It was not until the 1990s that the Portobello (sometimes called Portabella) mushroom became so fashionable. The Portobello is actually an overgrown Crimini mushroom which in the process of growing acquires a very large and meaty cap. Fashionable or not, I love them because they are so big on flavor, especially when roasted, grilled or sautéed at high temperature.
Another reason to love them is that they are now available year-round: not only can they be found in just about every supermarket, they are also popping up at farmers’ markets… That is a real treat, because, in my book, there’s nothing better than a fresh mushroom.
Speaking of freshness, there are a few rules to observe when selecting mushrooms. First, avoid the prepackaged ones: especially when they are wrapped in plastic with no breathing holes. Mushrooms are alive! They will spoil very quickly when packaged this way, and acquire a very unpleasant smell and flavor. The best is to pick loose mushrooms with pale gills (the darker the gills, the older the mushroom).
Second, store them in the refrigerator, in a brown paper bag or in a dry bowl covered with a damp paper towel.
Another rule: do not wash or soak mushrooms in water. These fungi are like sponges; they will absorb liquid very quickly—and then, when you cook them, they will release this liquid and become rubbery… A paper towel or a mushroom brush is all that’s needed to brush off any particles found on them. (And by the way, those particles are not dirt, they are simply sterilized peat moss.)
Today’s recipe makes the best use of the deep and earthy flavor of these gorgeous mushrooms. Try to find hand-made mozzarella if you can… it’ll make these flatbread pizzas an even more irresistible treat!
Flatbread Pizza with Mozzarella, Baby Portobello Mushrooms and Fresh Herbs
active time: 30 min
For the flatbreads
- 4 — 10″ flour or whole wheat tortillas
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
For the baby Portobellos
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs – leaves removed from stems
- 6 thyme sprigs – leaves removed from stems
- 4 oregano sprigs – leaves removed from stems
- 8 large sage leaves – leaves removed from stems
- 6 parsley sprigs – stems removed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 lbs (567g) baby Portobello mushrooms (or regular Portobellos) – stems removed at the base and cut in 1/2” cubes
- 4 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 12 oz (340g) fresh mozzarella – cut in 1 1/2” x 1/4” slices
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Reggiano parmesan
- 12 large basil leaves cut en chiffonade ( 1/16” strips) or a handful of tinny basil leaves
- 2 large jellyroll pans – ungreased
- Step 1: Place rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley leaves on a board and finely chop. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Step 2: Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, butter and Portobello cubes, toss well and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until golden, tossing from time to time. Add garlic, chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste and continue sautéing for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Step 3: Preheat oven to 450°F. Lay 2 tortillas side by side on each pan and brush top side of each tortilla with olive oil. Top with the mozzarella slices and the mushrooms. Sprinkle the parmesan and extra salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 4: Bake until edges are golden brown and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer each pizza to a large plate, sprinkle with the basil en chiffonade or the tinny basil leaves, cut in 4 slices and serve immediately.
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Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.