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Meatless Monday: Stuffed portobello mushrooms

March 28, 2011

Published in The Christian Science Monitor

In my short 22 years – all of them lived as a vegetarian – I’ve seen the culinary world evolve. But 10 years ago my options at restaurants rarely consisted of more than garden salads and grilled cheese sandwiches. At barbeques I’d pick at bland, chewy imitation meat patties grilled up by well-meaning hosts and dream of better meals.

Though veggie burgers have come a long way since then, I’d still rather have a juicy sautéed portobello mushroom cap (no need for the bun and ketchup).

Just because warm summer days and dusky backyard cookouts are still months away doesn’t mean that I can’t have portobello mushrooms now. Stuffed and baked, they can be enjoyed all year.

Like all of my favorite recipes, this one can be made in a multitude of variations. Any cheese or vegetable, and even meat, can go in a mushroom. Here I top a base of onions, garlic, and breadcrumbs with a two-cheese blend and basil pesto. If available, I always buy portobello mushrooms with the stems still attached. Chopped up and sautéed with everything else they add great additional flavor.

You may want to adjust the following ingredient amounts based on personal preferences, the size of your mushrooms, and how stuffed you’d like them. I like mine overflowing!

Stuffed portobello mushrooms
Serves 3 as an entrée or 6-8 as an appetizer

6 large portobello mushrooms, with stems
1 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup basil pesto
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice stems off mushrooms and set aside. Brush mushroom caps with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, and cook caps for about 3 minutes on each side. When done, move caps to a baking sheet, face up.

Coat skillet with olive oil, then sauté onions, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook mixture for another minute. Turn off heat and mix in half of the feta and mozzarella cheese.

Spoon stuffing into each mushroom cap. Top with remaining cheese and the pesto. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Serve warm – whole as an entrée, or sliced in halves or quarters if an appetizer.

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