When I was a vegetarian in high school, I got so sick of poorly prepared portobello mushrooms! Watery stuffed portobellos, stringy grilled portobellos, dry portobello sandwiches, spongy portobello salads. I avoided them for a while, not realizing how good they could be.
The portobello is a simple old brown mushroom, but is harvested a little later than a regular cremini. It is older, riper, slightly more intense in taste and much larger. And the thick, crispy plate it becomes is ideal for certain cooking methods.
Hetty McKinnon’s mushroom parm is the perfect combination of mushroom and technique – each filled with tomato sauce, toasted with plenty of olive oil and topped with a layer of bubbly golden cheese and breadcrumbs.
The mushrooms don’t get watery because the oven temperature is high (425 degrees) and the surface of the baking pan gives them room to really simmer and cook until tender. Bonus: If you’re making more tomato sauce than you need – and I think you should always make more tomato sauce than you need – then you can get a few more snacks or meals out of it.
Polenta + white beans stewed in tomato sauce + soft herbs + shower of grated cheese
Fried serranos and onion + tomato sauce + tortilla chips + a fried egg
Baguette cut lengthwise, toasted, rubbed with garlic clove + tomato sauce + cheese
All I want now are cozy mushroom dishes, and next on my list are Kay Chun’s mushrooms and dumplings, covered in dollops of buttery, biscuit-like dough that gets crispy on top but stays wonderfully moist and soggy on the bottom.
The stew itself is built on leeks softened in butter – one of my best winter kitchen scents! – and plenty of mushrooms (both fresh and dried) and vegetables simmered in broth. It’s simple, but you could make it a little more complicated if you’re cleaning out the fridge or just adding even more veggies: a bunch of chopped turnip greens, ribbed chard (save the stems), kale, or maybe even a can of beans or chickpeas.
If you’re looking for something equally delicious, but vegan, Bryant Terry and Rahanna Bisseret Martinez have a wonderful recipe for mushroom and chard grits (including the stalks!) that uses oat milk instead of dairy to create a beautiful, to get a creamy texture. They call for maitakes, or hen of the woods, which are absolutely delicious if you can find them.
And if you can’t, guess what? Some sliced portobellos would also be very, very good.
Creamy Grits With Mushrooms And Chard
Go to the recipe.
One more thing!
I was in Washington State for Christmas a few weeks ago, and my parents pulled out a pound of frozen blueberries they’d been storing—deep purple, incredibly sweet, little things. We weren’t sure what to do with it, but we were inspired by Melissa Clark’s crumble tip and reached for an already baked topping (my dad’s homemade granola!).
It was crumbly and flavorful and super crunchy, and now I want to bake a bunch of winter fruit exactly the same way — pears, persimmons, apples with some cranberries — and have it for breakfast. Thanks for reading The Veggie, see you next week!