I remember this moment as if it were yesterday. My brother and I were starving. It had been a long day of sightseeing and we had just pulled up to a “burger” shack as recommended by some relatives who were showing us around. Sure, burgers were just the thing. But, we did notice that it actually said “mushroom burger” on the sign. We assumed that they were regular burgers piled high with mushrooms.
Well, we took a bite and looked at each other the way only brothers do when no one is looking and smiled to those around us while we continued to chew. What the heck was this? Where was the beef? It looked like a burger – it had the bun, but instead of the beef patty, it had a giant mushroom in the center. It was really a mushroom burger. This wasn’t what two growing boys were expecting at all. We wanted beef!
Looking back, I’ll be the first to admit that I needed to be more open with my food. I was set in my ways. Years later, I can look back and realize how progressive that mushroom burger really was. I bet if you opened up a restaurant with that featured dish today in some big city, it would make a killing — giant mushrooms aren’t cheap
Flash forward to a recent trip to the grocery store — it was one of those shopping trips where I was wandering around letting the food speak to me. If it spoke loud enough, then it would end up in my cart. I got to the mushroom section and I noticed a package of giant Portobello mushroom caps. It actually made me smile as I stood there thinking back on the mushroom burger I had many years ago. I was inspired at that moment to do something creative, but in all honesty, I wasn’t going to make a mushroom burger. I still like beef in my burgers!
Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps
- 5 large Portobello Mushroom Caps (stems removed)
- 4 ounces Pancetta – coarsely chopped
- 1 cup Spinach – chopped
- 2 cups cooked Couscous
- 2 cups Parmesan Cheese – shredded
- 2 Cloves Garlic – chopped
- Olive Oil
- Black Pepper
- Frying pan, baking sheet lined with foil and large mixing bowl
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection.
- Prepare couscous according to package directions and set aside.
- Drizzle olive oil into a pan over medium heat.
- Once oil is hot, sauté garlic and then add in pancetta and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes until lightly browned.
- In a large bowl, combine pancetta, spinach, couscous and parmesan cheese — mix well.
- Drizzle olive oil on foil-lined baking sheet and place mushrooms caps, curved side down.
- Evenly divide couscous mixture among the mushrooms caps, forming a mound on each one.
- Drizzle olive oil on each mushroom cap and then top with freshly ground pepper.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
This is an amazing dish to either serve as a hearty appetizer or as an actual meal which I enjoyed for dinner. The mushroom is meaty and topped with a wonderful combination of textures, flavors and bits of salty pancetta and parmesan cheese melted throughout. For those of you who want to go meatless, just skip the pancetta. And as long as you have the couscous and cheese as the base/binder combination, get creative and add in what your taste buds desire or based on what you have sitting in the fridge. This is such a versatile, stuffed mushroom cap that anyone can enjoy — as long as you like mushrooms! :)
Danny – Danny’s Kitchen
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