Marc Chagall is one of my favourite painters. His distinct poetic style, dreamy landscapes, pastorals full of Eastern European and Jewish folklore and symbolism, always reminded me of the fairy tales I had been reading when I was a child. The expressive colours of Chagall’s canvases make me think of my own childhood art when I couldn’t get enough of my Panda oil pastels. It seems that Chagall kept his inner child alive. He is known as a great colourist and his magic colours are what first attracted me to his art. I also love his nostalgic imagery inspired by the memories of his native Vitebsk, which always makes me feel a bit sentimental, as I am an immigrant myself.
Chagall was a romantic and love remained the greatest motif in his whole artistic oeuvre. Henry Miller once described Marc Chagall as a “poet with the wings of a painter.” Chagall’s paintings are truly poems on canvas. Chagall painted lovers, flowers and fantasies on the theme of Paris and Vitebsk. His paintings are full of angels, people and animals, musicians, clowns and acrobats, animal/human hybrids floating in the air as if there was no gravity, co-existing in the universe. A bouquet of flowers is a recurring theme in Chagall’s art. You can find it in many of his painting, amongst which the famous “Nude over Vitebsk”, “The Birthday” and “Field of Mars”.
In 2015 I saw Chagall’s retrospective exhibition in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. It was amazing, and oh yes – I cried; an overload of beauty.
“In our life there is a single colour, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the colour of love.”
– Marc Chagall
My stuffed Portobello dish is inspired by “Newlyweds with Paris in the Background” with its prominent bouquet of red flowers on the foreground. I wanted to transfer the beauty and the vivid colours of these flowers into my dish.
This stuffed Portobello makes a fantastic starter and can be appreciated not only by its delicious taste but also by its wonderful looks. It’s meaty and juicy, with heavenly touch of melted mozzarella. It simply melts in your mouth!
Portobello mushrooms are fully matured brown Cremini mushrooms and are, because of their texture and rich flavour, a great replacement for meat.
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and gills removed
- 500g fresh spinach
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- 100g Mozzarella Cucina, cut into small cubes
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic, minced
- 15g pine nuts, roasted
- 3 tsp olive oil
- salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
Mix 1 spoon of olive oil with a little bit of minced garlic. Brush both sides of portobellos with the mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Wash the spinach and break the stalks off. Chop the mushroom stems. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and fry the shallot, garlic and stems until they start to brown. Add the spinach and cover the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes till wilted, stirring from time to time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
Preheat the oven to 180°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the mushrooms on it cap sides up. Bake for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain the juice.
In a bowl mix spinach, mozzarella cubes and roasted pine nuts. Divide the filling over the mushroom cups. Top with cherry tomatoes halves. Bake for another 10 minutes.