Mushrooms have been grown and used in Japan for 2,000 years. But settlers here in North America were much later in discovering the use and goodness of mushrooms. We are making up for that now and the variety of fresh mushrooms available in supermarkets has been steadily on the upswing, especially in the last 15 years. Presently, our produce sections routinely offer portobellos, “baby bellas” or cremini, and shiitake along with our domestic white button mushrooms.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s button mushrooms were used in sauces and gravies, sautéed with onions and peppers, and found in many a casserole and meatloaf.
It was only eight years ago that I discovered the goodness of the “Portabello Burger,” a marinated and grilled Portobello cap topped with melted cheese, lettuce, red onion and tomato and served on a bun. At that time I served them at a family reunion as a vegetarian choice, but they were more requested than the cheeseburger.
Slowly, I am discovering how to use shiitake and cremini in different recipes, such as in the second recipe below.
Mushrooms really do provide good flavor and if you are not familiar with them, I have included below some basic information about how and when to use.
I like these Portobellos as a main dish along with a salad. For a more substantial meal, use as a side dish alongside chicken or steak tips.
Roasted Portobello Caps
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs* (see below to make your own)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place mushroom caps, gill-side up, on the pan. Sprinkle with one-eighth teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.