Button mushrooms grow up to become baby bellas, (Criminis), and finally Portobellos.
Recently we camped and hiked in the Lake O’Hara region of the Canadian Rockies where we wanted to concoct appealing but practical meals at the end of a day’s hiking. The most memorable of those meals involved Portobellos, garlic, grated cheese, and dried pasta which were a snap to carry in a backpack and prepare on our single burner camp stove. We vowed to have it again on the supper table at home where we also appreciate quick and delicious. A great vegetarian supper with a little bread, a little wine. Domesticated? Yes. Tame? Not so much.
We appreciate the Portobello’s ‘meatiness’, but its versatility is worth applauding too. Mushrooms in the pantry and there are myriad possibilities for an interesting meal – with toasty bread, pasta, rice, risotto, pizza, salad, eggs, with a piece of meat, or stuffed and baked. Not a prized wild variety, Portobellos are widely cultivated and readily attainable year-round in the Pacific Northwest. They’re a delectable choice for a local meal if you like mushrooms. A few in my family don’t – this is for those of us who appreciate a good fungus now and then.
Roast Portobellos in a hot oven or saute’ over high heat. ‘Recipe’ is flexible. I used the three medium-sized Portobellos I had on hand.
Clean mushrooms, trim stems if needed and chop into large or small pieces – whatever suits your intended use. Over high heat, melt four tablespoons of butter with a tablespoon of olive oil (or more oil, less butter is fine too). When oil is piping hot, but not burned, toss in the chopped mushrooms along with finely chopped garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme to taste. Salt & pepper. Allow to brown, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and have your way with these puppies.
Doesn’t hurt at all to splash a little cognac or wine into the mushroom pan near the very end; and I tossed piping hot pasta with a little cream and grated Vache de Vashon cheese from Sea Breeze Farms along with some toasted, crushed hazelnuts. A little something more than the camping meal, this is a good one for vegetarians and omnivores alike.