Truth is Portobellos probably aren’t the belle of the mushroom world. It’s the wild ones, delicate, exotically shaped and rare to find, that are treasured – they also happen to be delectable. Morels, Chanterelle, Porcini, Shiitake. Portobellos, on the other hand, are an ordinary Crimini mushroom grown up, substantial in character and size, locally grown, available year-round therefore reliable, succulent morsels when roasted, and they’re not meat, which whenever we non-vegetarians want to go there, makes for a fantastic meal. Plus, you don’t have to clean twenty-five of them to have a feast, three or four will do.
I hated mushrooms when I was a child and once had a showdown with mushroom soup. A parental figure, shall we say, not my mother or father, attempted to force me and my brother to eat a bowl of it, meaning sit at the table until it’s finished. We sat at that table a very, very long time while the soup became cold and gelatinous like when it first came out of its can. We negotiated a truce by stubbornly holding our ground, that and, I think, the adult came to his senses. Anyway, we left mushroom soup in the dust and in the years after took great pleasure in regaling its nastiness every chance we got. Food horror stories from childhood, we all have them. An unpleasant introduction, but now a bowl of homemade mushroom soup is a favorite.
You can do a lot with a pile of roasted Portobellos: with roasted onions for a savory winter sandwich; chopped and added to cooked rice or farro along with bits of roasted squash; puréed with chicken or vegetable stock and then reheated with cream or milk for soup.
So the deal is that when you roast a pan full of Portobellos you have the main ingredient for several instant meals, good food and fast.
Basic Roasted Portobello Recipe
Cut 3 or 4 Portobello mushrooms into 1/2″ slices across their width. Mushrooms shrink a lot during cooking so plan accordingly. Finely chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. For some recipes, you can roast thinly sliced onion along with the mushrooms. Place together in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with olive oil ( 1/3 C give or take), salt & pepper and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar (optional). Add sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary if you have it. With clean hands or a pair of large spoons, toss it all until everything is coated, spread out on a parchment lined shallow pan. Roast in a 400º oven for 10 minutes and stir. Roast for about 10 minutes more or until mushrooms have browned, given up and then reduced some, but not all, of their own juices. Remove from the oven. Roasted, you’ll have 3 – 4 cups of mushrooms.
Serve warm with crostini and goat cheese for a meal or an appetizer. Make a sandwich. Make soup or a warm rice salad.
The Portobello Sandwich: In summer almost every imaginable vegetable is a candidate for roasting and a layer in this sandwich, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, artichokes. In the wintertime just the Portobello and onion are wonderful. Roast one thinly sliced onion along with the mushrooms following instructions for the basic roast. Because onions are sliced thinly, they will cook enough in the same 20 minutes as the Portobellos. Or if needed, remove mushrooms and let the onions roast for another 10 or 15 minutes at lower heat.
Spread goat cheese on bread or a sandwich roll and top with still warm/hot roasted veggies. This will at least partly melt the cheese. Use any cheese you like, thin slices will melt more readily. I added a few of last summer’s sun dried tomatoes. If I get lazy in late summer and don’t want to bother with the drying I remember how we appreciate them mid-winter and get on with it.
Soup with roasted Portobellos
Place 4 cups roasted mushrooms along with roasted onion (or shallots) in a blender or food processor. Add 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock and blend to desired consistency, very smooth or not. Place it all in a large pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1/2 – 1 C cream and a cup of cooked rice or farro if you have it. Reheat, but do not boil.
If you have dried wild mushrooms hanging around, by all means rehydrate a handful in 2 cups of boiling water and add to the blender mix. Reduce amount of stock accordingly.
Another MixedGreens mushroom soup from February 2009, Wild Mushroom Soup with Farro Recipe
Portobellos with rice or farro
Dress 4 C cooked rice or farro with 2 t sesame oil, 3 T peanut or olive oil, 3 T rice vinegar and a splash of soy. Toss with rice, make a little more dressing if needed. Coarsely chop and add roasted onion (or shallots), Portobello, and squash, if you have it, to the rice. Top with chopped green onion and parsley.