What Lies Within

We host a weekly gathering of nerds at my home. When there is a new episode of Doctor Who available, we watch that (otherwise, we play board games, watch other nerdy sci-fi, and otherwise entertain ourselves in proper nerdy fashion). Thus the event has long been known as Who Night. Sometimes, it can become a culinary challenge and that's where one of my nerdy passions comes into play. I tend to take on the role as kitchen goddess and will craft culinary themes and attempt to make sure my own offerings (it's a potluck event, so we get lots of variety every week) include gluten free and vegetarian items to cater to a couple of attendees with dietary preferences. Sometimes, those can present interesting challenges. We've had hashbrown-crusted quiches and veggie and grain-infused chilis. We almost always have more than one dish to allow for meat and gluten to find their way into some of the dishes. That said, I don't want anyone going hungry.

But then there are the times when a dish just presents itself to me and I don't have much to do in the way of prep or even planning. Sometimes, something like this just begs to be made:

Stuffing a portabella mushroom with the makings of a caprese salad (you could add chopped basil to the filling easily - I just happened to skip it), sprinkling buttery seasoned crumbs over the top, and baking it until perfect means a special treat for carnivores and vegetarians alike. You could even use gluten free bread crumbs and have it fit that category too, although I opted to just use Panko bread crumbs because I had them on hand and am planning on preparing a variety of stuffed mushrooms for the upcoming evening, as a fungi-centric theme seems like a great focus for fall. And who is going to complain when this is one of the offerings:

It's a beautiful blend of summer and fall in one perfect package. And it took next to no effort to make or even plan. I just looked at what I had on hand and made that happen. Sometimes life hands us challenges and it's such a treat when meeting them is easy.

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oz. fresh mozzarella, pulled into shreds
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 large portabella mushrooms, cleaned & stems removed
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 1 c. Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 T. granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the garlic, mozzarella, and chopped tomato. Toss lightly with the balsamic vinegar to make sure it is evenly coated.

Place the mushrooms, hollows up, on a baking sheet. Carefully spoon the mixture into the hollows of the mushrooms, distributing it evenly.

Toss the butter, Panko, granulated garlic, and salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture carefully over the top of the mushrooms, mounding it slightly in the center of each mushroom.

Bake the mushrooms in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the crumbs are slightly golden and toasted and a skewer placed near the center of a mushroom pierces it easily. Allow the mushrooms to rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes