Baked mushrooms with Italian flavours
More than just mushrooms
Mushrooms are wonderfully versatile and owing to their meaty texture, equally popular as a side dish or the base for a vegetarian or even vegan dish. The nutty flavour especially when roasted, pan-fried or grilled is delicious as mushrooms go with so many different flavours, making them even more interesting to use.
In this recipe Italian flavours are added to make a delicious side dish with a braai or serve them as a vegetarian meal – perfect for this time of year. The oil is seasoned with lemon and herbs and serves a double purpose to partly brush over the mushrooms and season the tomatoes with the rest. All of this is topped with cheese and roasted together – yum!
The very large mushrooms are often used as gluten-free pizza bases and roasted in a similar way to this recipe. The list of ingredients to use as toppings can be endless. Be creative according to your preference, whether you ‘build’ a pizza with more veggies, bacon, ham or other cold meat or season cream or cottage cheese with wholegrain mustard and fresh herbs to fill the mushroom with before roasting. Almost any cheese is good with mushrooms, from good old cheddar to mozzarella, pecorino, camembert, goat’s cheese and even blue cheese.
Two tips with mushrooms
Never wash mushrooms – they are literally like little sponges and will absorb a lot of water, only to push it out once they get into contact with heat. In a frying pan this becomes a struggle, as the mushrooms cook in the liquid and do not fry. Rather wipe them with a piece of kitchen towel as the growth medium they are planted in, is infact sterile and not ‘dirty’ and easy to wipe away. Mushrooms will last longer in a cloth or brown paper bag, as they sweat and deteriorate faster in plastic. This recipe is from the Muse magazine, a community magazine based in Cape Town, where I regurlarly contribute a recipe.
80 ml (⅓ cup) olive or avocado oil
45 ml (3 tbsp) chopped Italian parsley
finely grated rind of ½ a lemon
black pepper to taste
200 g cherry tomatoes, cut in wedges
125 ml (50 g) coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
125 ml (50 g) coarsely grated mature white cheddar cheese
45-60 ml (3-4 tbsp) basil pesto
handful fresh rocket leaves
1-2 avocados, when in season
1. Preheat oven to 200 °C and place mushrooms on a baking tray or shallow oven dish.
2. Mix oil, parsley, lemon rind and pepper together. Brush mushrooms with half of this mixture.
3. Add the tomatoes to the remaining oil mixture and spoon onto the mushrooms. Mix the two cheeses together and sprinkle on top.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted, turns slightly golden brown and the mushrooms are just cooked, still holding their structure.
5. Serve mushrooms with dollops of pesto and fresh rocket. When in season, slices of avocado are also delicious with the mushrooms.