Mushrooms are a mainstay of many a vegetarian's diet, as they are substantial, have great texture, and provide that elusive and desirable umami flavor we all crave — especially when meat isn't part of the program.
Maybe you haven't cooked with mushrooms much, or thought about them as a main course, but you should — mushrooms are a great food to love, and a pretty important one if you are looking for hearty, meatless meals. Turning them into pizza isn't a bad place to start.
Also, make sure to try the mini mushroom version (see Recipe Note). A selection of little darling creminis might be just the ticket to getting the family to dip its collective toe into the brilliant world of mushrooms. (And they would make cheery little appetizers as well).
Cheesy, Crispy Pizza Portobello Mushrooms
Vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray, for oiling the baking sheet
large portobello mushrooms (about 5 inches), stemmed (see Recipe Notes for mini substitutes)
extra-virgin olive oil
finely minced garlic
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
shredded mozzarella cheese
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
dried oregano, or 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
jarred or homemade pasta sauce
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Scrape the gills (soft ridgey parts) out of the mushrooms.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush this marinade over both sides of the mushrooms and arrange them, cap-side down, on the baking sheet.
Mix together the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, panko, mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano and thyme in another small bowl. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the cheese-and-panko mixture and toss well. Scoop some of the mixture into each mushroom cap, pressing it down slightly into the hollows and making sure it doesn’t fall over the edges.
Bake the mushrooms until the cheese mixture is melted and browned and the mushrooms are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let sit for a minute or two before serving. Drizzle each with some of the tomato sauce, or pass the sauce for people to serve themselves.
Cute-as-a-button mushroom pizzas: A mushroom the size of a hubcap might be intimidating to some kids, or even grownups. It’s easy to turn this recipe into a bunch of smaller, and more adorable, mini pizza mushrooms. Just use 2 pounds of good-sized button or cremini mushrooms (sometimes labeled “stuffing mushrooms”). Use a small teaspoon to scrape out the gills and divide the mixture among the smaller mushrooms. You should still be able to cook them all on one baking sheet, and they will be done in 10 to 12 minutes.
What the kids can do: Scrape out the mushroom gills with a spoon, measure the ingredients, brush on the marinade, mix the filling, stuff the mushrooms, drizzle the sauce. This is a very good kid-involved recipe.
Make ahead: You can bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes, and then cool, cover, and refrigerate them. They’ll keep for 2 days. Reheat them in a 450°F oven for 5 to 8 minutes until hot throughout.
Reprinted with permission from Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You! by Katie Workman, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Workman Publishing Company.