When I saw these portabella mushrooms at a local grocery store, I swooned and my head filled with images of meaty roasted portabellas on a salad. Everything else I had imagined cooking vanished (I had really planned to stuff mushrooms with St. Patrick’s Day leftovers). I just wanted my warm portabellas and cool salad. We’re mushroom fans here. Through and through. On a recent evening, I browned cremini mushrooms in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and then swirled in a little red wine to finish them off. They were meaty, rich and tender. Then I spooned them over medium-rare sirloin steak served alongside some cheesy tortellini. Guess what the kids dug into first? We eat mushrooms fairly often since the kids and I really love them. They are perfect for roasting alongside bell peppers, Brussels sprouts and other vegetable favorites to be spooned over rice or mixed into pasta with cheese and a little olive oil. They are sliced on salads and stuffed for appetizers. Sometimes, I will saute them and just eat them like that. And no matter how I cook them, they are always greeted with “Oooh! Mushrooms!” by my kids. Selfishly, I wish they didn’t love them this much — there would be more for me! I was recently asked to partake in the National Nutrition Month blog tour sponsored by The Mushroom Channel (aka the Mushroom Council, an organization of fresh-market mushroom producers and importers whose mission is to encourage the eating of mushrooms in a variety of meals), sharing how my family add mushrooms to our menu in a way that suits our family’s tastes and health goals. March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” For us — well, the kids and I, at least — mushrooms aren’t just a great meat alternative, but they are also a versatile addition to a variety of dinners … and lunches too. And from a health standpoint, mushrooms also have a lot to offer — they are rich in antioxidants and have a healthy dose of vitamins B and D.
Now, let’s talk about this bodacious meal. I don’t think I have ever used the word ‘bodacious’ before, but I think it’s fitting here. Because it totally is. Bodacious, I mean. Anyway … This salad is perfect for a light lunch. Meaty portabella mushrooms are roasted until tender and then topped with breadcrumbs and cheese and roasted a little more. Then, they are served on a cool, creamy Caesar salad. It takes a good 40 minutes to make — but most of it is hands off as the portabellas roast. It’s a little longer than I like to spend making lunch on a weekday, but it’s so worth it. Just don’t tell the kids that I’ve been indulging in this without them.
One More Thing …If you love talking mushrooms, be sure to tweet away with the Mushroom Council at their Twitter Party on Wednesday, March 20th 8-9 PM EST. The hashtag for the party will be #MushroomDish. The party will serve as a discussion for everything mushrooms, from their versatile nature to their flavorful umami qualities.
- 4 Portabella mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 tsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, divided
- 8 tsp shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
- 4 cups lettuce
- Caesar dressing, to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped red peppers
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wipe the Portobello mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and basil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until soft.
- Sprinkle each mushroom with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons cheese. Return to the oven for five minutes.
- Stir together the lettuce and dressing and divide evenly among four plates. Top each with a mushroom and sprinkle with red peppers.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.