Thursday, May 31, 2012

Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

With the passing of Memorial Day last weekend, grilling season has officially commenced.  Oh, how long we've waited!  It's a time when the thoughts of long, warm summer nights and outdoor patios that danced in our heads all winter long finally become a reality.  I mean, is there really anything better than a cold beer in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other as you smell the delicious magic happening on the grill in front of you?  I think not.  Summer eating is an ultimate dining experience.  

We are often quick to think of all of the delicious cuts of meat we can doctor up to put on the grill during the summer.  Veggies, however, are the unsung hero of the grill.  Simply seasoned and tossed on the grates, vegetables can transform into a top notch summer grill-meal.

Portobello mushrooms are a great way to try out a veggie version of great grill contenders.  They can be just as savory and satisfying as a burger, or can be doctored up as a great side too.  Its bowl-like shape is practically asking to be filled up with as many things as possible to create an ultimate stuffed delight.  The possibilities are endless (my roommate has already asked my why I didn't put bacon in this recipe).  You could even think of it as a mini pizza - whatever topping you're in the mood for; blue cheese! arugula! walnuts! sausage! tomatoes! basil! asparagus! - throw it on, Grillmaster.

Merry Grill Season to all!

Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 


8 large Portobello mushroom caps
2 large yellow onions, sliced
3 large red bell peppers, sliced
1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Chopped fresh chives and a squeeze lemon juice to garnish (optional)


Remove the stem from the mushrooms and remove the dark brown ‘gills’ inside the cap by scooping them out with a spoon.  Remove any traces of dirt with a damp paper towel. 

Whisk together the olive oil, juice of the lemon, garlic, and thyme.  Season liberally with salt and cracked black pepper.  Pour marinade over mushrooms and rub the mushrooms with your hands to completely cover them with the marinade.  Ideally you could have these marinate for an hour before cooking them.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium low heat.   Add onions and slowly cook until they become very soft and caramel colored (about 30 minutes), stirring every few minutes to avoid burning at the bottom.  Season liberally with salt.  I like to add a splash of red wine if I’m drinking some while I’m cooking, or a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce if I have it to add that depth of savory flavor.   Set onions aside.

Cook the red bell peppers using the same method as the onions, but for less time.  Cook the peppers for about 10 minutes until they become soft with slightly caramelized edges, but still have some body (think the consistency and texture of a roasted bell pepper).  Set aside.

Defrost the spinach and squeeze out any excess water (it will have a lot).  Preheat the broiler in your oven to high or heat the grill to medium high heat.

Grill or broil your mushroom caps for about 6 minutes on each side.  Remove from oven or grill to build your mushrooms.

Divide the filling ingredients evenly between the mushroom caps following this stacking order:  spinach, feta cheese, caramelized onions, red pepper, parmesan cheese. 

Place the now stuffed ‘shrooms back in the oven or to the grill to heat through and slightly brown the parmesan cheese on top.  Garnish with chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired, and serve.  

Got leftovers? They are excellent the next day on top of a green salad and topped with fresh chopped chives.