I was craving delicious, healthy, light, vegetable-loaded, and bread-free stuffed portobello mushrooms. Often thought of as a vegetable and added to non-starchy vegetables (or free veggies!) lists, mushrooms are technically a fungi. These beautiful creatures come in many varieties and are all loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. You’ll be surprised to know that one large portobello mushroom has 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and an excellent source of some B vitamins, potassium, selenium, and copper.
Mushrooms support the immune system and reduce inflammation, a contributor to chronic diseases like type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. Mushrooms are low in calories and high in nutrients, making them ideal for everyone, especially people trying to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, or manage their blood sugar.
To Buy and Store Mushrooms
Mushrooms pick up whatever is in the soil they grow in, so buying organic if possible may reduce the risk for pesticide, heavy metal, or any other contamination. Choose firm, clean, and unbruised mushrooms and store them in your fridge unwashed right away. If stored properly, they should last in the fridge for 3-6 days, but the sooner you use them, the more nutrients they offer and of course the better they taste. If you bought them in one of those jammed containers, remove and layer them in a glass dish or paper bag, alternating with paper towels. They stay more fresh when they don’t touch one another. If you leave them in room temperature (or worse, in your car or a cabinet), they will start losing their phytonutrient (antioxidant) content.
To Prepare Mushrooms
Since mushrooms are porous, they soak up water and become soggy and less flavorful if soaked in water for washing. Some chefs say you should never wash mushrooms and instead recommend wiping with a damp paper towel or using a soft brush. You can buy a special mushrooms brush, use a clean soft toothbrush, or just use a paper towel. If they’re really dirty, quickly rinse in cold water and gently pat dry. Cut the end of the stem. When stuffing, chop the stems and add them to your stuffing recipe so you waste nothing. Do not overcook, 7-10 minutes is all they need. Sautee with quality olive oil and add some herbs and spices and voila, your healthy side is done.
I was in the mood for something a bit more fancier than sauteed mushrooms. I didn’t want this recipe to be the typical cheese-loaded mushrooms you get for appetizers in restaurants. I wanted to keep it fresh and light. Most recipes call for breadcrumbs and eggs, and I decided to skip both. Did it hurt the taste? Absolutely not!
It’s always more fun to cook with a helper, and I have the cutest helper ever! If you have a child around, they’ll enjoy brushing the oil mixture, filling the mushroom, and of course sprinkling some cheese. He’s my super picky son, and sadly, as much as he enjoyed cooking with me, he didn’t try the mushroom. His older brother did and I got the thumbs up!
- 6 portobello mushrooms, wiped clean
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Sea or Pink Himalayan salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, mined
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cups packed spinach leaves, washed and chopped
- 2 tomatoes on the vine, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme (or oregano)
- Additional salt and pepper, about ¼ teaspoon each
- ¼ cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese (more flavor for less amount)
- Heat oven to 400 F.
- Remove mushroom stems. Chop and reserve to add to the stuffing mixture.
- Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and half the garlic in a small bowl. Brush the top and bottom of the mushrooms with the oil mix and place on a baking sheet with a rim (or baking dish). Bake for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the chopped mushroom stems, onion, remaining garlic, spinach, tomato, thyme, salt, and pepper. Fill mushroom caps with the stuffing then top with Parmesan cheese. Cook for 10 more minutes.