Wednesday, April 18, 2007

S'more Spores - Grilled Portobello Caps

With its smooth, yet tatty domed roof, the Portobello mushroom looks like some prehistoric rock or succulent plant, stoic, hearty and self-sufficient. It needs no one and nothing but a bit of shade and damp, and would be perfectly fine living in a state of exile as the stillest of still life, affecting the perfect permanent pose throughout eternity, thank you. I, however, have other plans for it, shroom lover that I am. While I am certainly fond of its younger and smaller fungal self, the Crimini, there’s something captivating, indomitable and a little intimidating about the giant cap with the gorgeous gilled underbelly of spores arranged in perfect symmetry, dark, deep and dangerous. It’s no wonder I can feel myself shrinking to the size of a phantasmagorical 7-year old, half expecting an harrumphing and hookah-high caterpillar to stare me down from his high perch on the mushroom’s back. All the same, I will have to take the upper hand and grill its gills to the gills.

Illustration by Sir John Tenniel from
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Pan-Grilled Portobello Mushroom Caps


4 Portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean with damp cloth, the dry stem trimmed
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
1 clove minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper


Prepare an easy vinaigrette with all ingredients (or use your own recipe) except the mushrooms in a small bowl, then set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. Turn mushroom caps on their backs and pour the vinaigrette into the spores, allowing it to seep in. Let them stand for 30 minutes to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, place the mushroom caps spore side down (no need to grease the skillet; they will release enough moisture to prevent sticking). After approximately 3 minutes, turn mushroom caps over. Some of the marinade will have dripped out to flavor the other side as they cook. After another 3 minutes, turn them periodically to brown and shrink them to your desired preference. Don’t be afraid to scorch them a little; it will only improve the flavor. The longer you cook them, the firmer and meatier their texture will be. Serve as a side dish, add sliced to salad or let a whole cap be the star attraction as a vegetarian-inspired burger.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as an entrée. --

This post is being submitted to Kalyn's Kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging #79, hosted this week by Sher of What Did You Eat?


Lydia said...

Great recipe and luscious photos! I'm a big fan of portobello burgers cooked on the grill, spread with a bit of soft goat cheese, tomato, spinach. Yum.

Susan said...

Thanks, Lydia. Your version sounds just as delicious, even more so with the goat cheese - reminds me a bit of the makings of a veggie Napoleon.

Lucy said...

It is rather amazing that we can be on the other side of the world and both be cooking with the same things in mind.

I'll make these tonight and let you know how they go. The Artist isn't really a shroom fan, but I reckon that this will convert him.

Thank you!

Susan said...

What fun! I look forward to hearing all about it.

Christina said...

Mushrooms are one of the most perfect foods created--full of flavor, low in calories, able to complement just about everything. Thanks for sharing a great approach to fixing them.

I also love the "veggie napoleon" idea (Lydia, great meal; Susan, great name for the meal).

Susan said...

As I sit here with my coffee at 6:45 AM, I'm wishing I had some baby "bellos" to chop into a nice buttery omelette.

Freya and Paul said...

What a wonderful post! Beautiful pictures of the humble mushroom and the recipe sounds great!

Susan said...

Thanks, Freya and Paul. As you probably know, it takes about 25 shots to get one even remotely beautiful picture. Thank God for digital.

Sher said...

I am simply amazed at the beautiful pictures of the mushrooms. They are some of the best I've ever seen. And they do their job--I'm craving those mushrooms now! :):) Thanks for taking part in WHB this week!

Susan said...

Thanks so much, Sher. These events are great fun. I appreciate you hosting this one and look forward to everyone's posts on your round-up.

Lucy said...

Susan - they were delicious. Just what I wanted; juicy and dare I say it, meaty.

Will be made again. Thanks.

Susan said...

Hi, Lucy - Yes...meaty. The Portobello fakes it very well. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Helene said...

I love mushrooms and your are intriging. Thanks for sharing!! :)

Kalyn said...

Great photos! I love every type of mushrooms, and think portabellas are especially suited for grilling. Sounds like a wonderful recipe.

Susan said...

Thanks, Kalyn. I love mushrooms, too. They work in just about every dish.

Cynthia said...

Susan, this dish is on a list of must-eat things that I have :) Mushrooms like these are not readily available here in the Caribbean... I'll make a note of your recipe and try it when next I see these portobellos in the supermarket.

Susan said...

It's the same with so-called "exotic" ingredients in our supermarkets, Cynthia. The variety of available diverse goodies is growing slowly, as the neighborhoods become more diverse. I look forward to sampling even more as time goes on.

~Madeline~ said...

Your photos are fabulous! Looks so delicious.

Chuck said...

OMG, what a stunning photo. It looks delicious!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

These look amazing...I love portobello mushrooms!

Susan said...

Welcome, Madeline! Thanks for your kind words.
Hi, Chuck! Welcome! Thank you. Hope you try the recipe. It's very simple, yet very satisfying.
Thanks, Sweet and Saucy!