My local supermarket surprised me this week with a half-price deal on giant portobello mushrooms–4 huge caps for $3, so of course I decided to get double that and just find odd spaces to tuck them all into the fridge. I love mushrooms but I haven’t bought them much in the past few years because they’ve gotten pricey and because my daughter didn’t start liking them until this year. Why make the kid the arbiter? No great reason, really, but it seems like a waste to make an expensive but not particularly nutritious treat as part of dinner and then have your kid turn her nose up at it. If I had to choose, broccoli or cauliflower or tomatoes were usually going to win out.
But this year my daughter’s finally old enough to appreciate mushrooms (and of course, so’s my husband). So when they came home for dinner after sunset at the end of Yom Kippur services, I took a pair of these hubcaps and threw together a quick appetizer–something I almost never bother with just for us, but I might be tempted to do it more often now, because it’s too simple to be so good.
Half a giant portobello cap should be a decent appetizer serving if you have to split, or serve a whole one per person as a side dish if you have enough. Smaller mushrooms would work too, but the big ones are meaty and impressive-looking. The grater gets a workout on this one unless you already have some pesto handy, but it’s still only about a minute’s worth of work.
Broiled Portobello Caps
- 2-3 giant (or any sized) portobello mushroom caps, stem end trimmed, rinsed lightly all over to get any dirt off without peeling the skin or losing any gills
- clove of garlic (or more, if you need to scale up)
- 1/8 or so red or yellow onion
- ~1 t. butter
- pinches of shredded fresh or crumbled dry Italian herbs–basil or thyme for preference, dill or marjoram or sage are ok too
- ~1 oz. mozzarella or baby swiss cheese
- grating or pinch of nutmeg
EASY OPTION: the mushrooms plus pesto plus the cheese and nutmeg
Wash and trim the mushroom caps and place them gill-side up on foil-lined tray (toaster oven works for this if you have only 2-3 caps). If you have the stems and want to do something with them, trim a thin slice off the cut end and either broil them alongside or chop them with some of the onion, then fry or nuke the mixture half a minute and add it to the caps before the cheese.
In a small bowl or saucer grate the garlic and about a spoonful of onion on the fine holes of a grater. Grate a spoonful or so of butter on top, add the herbs and mash together. Smear some of the mixture (or the pesto, if you’re using that) on the gills of each mushroom cap, then grate the cheese over each and finally sprinkle or grate a little pinch of nutmeg on each one (don’t overdo this, but a little is really good). Broil in a toaster oven or bake in a regular oven at about 350 for 10-15 minutes or until the caps are cooked through and rendering liquid.
* * * * *
There’s one other incredibly quick and simple thing to do with a big portobello mushroom–it makes a surprisingly good microwave soup-for-one with nothing but the sliced-up mushroom nuked for a minute in a bowl or mug to catch the juices, then some milk added to it and heated again. A scraping of nutmeg and garlic is worthwhile, so’s a tiny crumble of sage or marjoram.
But the mushrooms and milk are flavorful enough on their own, too, especially when it’s just you and you’re in the mood for simplicity and have decided you’ve earned it. It’s been a week like that, so I can only hope the supermarket special is still on.