Thursday, July 19, 2007

Portobello Stackers

Some sources suggest that the protein complexes found in cooked mushrooms may be as near complete alone as those found in conventional meats. An ex of mine who had worked on a mushroom farm (not the psychedelic variety) once said that mushrooms were as near to meat as anything in the vegetable kingdom ever got. Whereas most vegetarian dinners require combinations of foods to achieve a complete protein (e.g. nuts, seeds or grains with dairy; rice and beans) this is not considered necessary when serving mushrooms.

1 large portobello mushroom cleaned and stemmed
2 large carrots cleaned and peeled
1 young red onion
1 small tomato, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 "handful" (subjective, would suggest approximately 2 tbsps) fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 "handful" fresh basil
1 "handful" greens - escarole, watercress, spinach, frisée, radicchio
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsps dry sherry
black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Use tablespoon olive oil to coat bottom of glass baking dish and bake portobello for approximately 10 minutes, alone. Dice red onion, smash garlic cloves with flat blade of knife, chop parsley finely. Add red onion and garlic to baking dish. Using tongs, tip portobello to drain accumulated juices, return to dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with chopped parsley.

Using vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons of carrot- which can be done directly into small sauté pan. Turn heat to medium and add dry sherry, basil and black pepper to taste. Cook on medium until pan is dry, reduce heat to low and toss to dry out a bit.

When finished with carrots, remove baking dish from oven. Toss cooked red onions with carrot ribbons and chop caramelized garlic finely.


First, evenly distribute finely chopped garlic on top of portobello. Then add cold sliced tomato, top with carrot ribbons and onions. Finally, add handful hand-torn greens.

Result: Very, tasty and quite refreshing. Carrots take on a much emphasized sweetness which is balanced with the hot crunch of fresh-ground black pepper. Portobellos seem to take on a slightly creamy flavor when roasted with a high-quality balsamic. I used escarole to top my stacker, which has a nice nutty flavor to it that works well with the earthiness of the mushroom. I suggest serving the tomatoes cold as the hot item/cold item balance is quite nice.

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