Capping Dinner

Mushrooms seem like a quintessentially springtime ingredient. Maybe it's the elegant morels showing up in farmers' markets and fancy restaurant dishes in my neck of the woods right about now. Now, I don't have a secret morel haven (and if I did, I wouldn't be posting about it here!), but I am also a big fan of portabella mushrooms. These large-capped mushrooms make the transition from delicious sides to inspired main courses easy.

My favorite way to make them the star of the show is stuffing them with a creamy pasta or rice mixture, adding some seasoned crumbs, and baking them until tender. Pop them alongside the pretties spring salad you can manage, pour yourself a glass of chilled white wine, and dinner is served! If you are needing something meaty in this mix, feel free to add a bit of crumbled bacon into the pasta mix. That said, this is an excellent way to embrace a meatless meal. Trust me, you won't even miss it!

If you happened to have some tender, fresh asparagus, baby peas, or even some ramps on hand, feel free to play the substitution game. Just make sure they are sliced into small pieces to keep the texture about the same. Besides, with all those glorious garlic-butter bread crumbs on the crown, big pieces of anything are likely to be an unpleasant surprise to a diner. But if you happen to have your favorite springtime vegetables on hand, I endorse the idea of playing that up a bit with this dish!

Cheesy Orzo Stuffed Portabellas

  • 8 oz. orzo pasta
  • 2 T. butter, divided
  • 5 large portabella mushrooms
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella or romano cheese
  • 2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ c. panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. granulated garlic

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the orzo according to the package directions.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a nonstick, ovenproof skillet. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely. Sauté the mushroom stems and green onions until tender and fragrant. Set aside.

Carefully drain the orzo when it is tender and return to the pot in which it was prepared. Add the cooked mushroom stems and green onions, as well as the cheese. Stir well to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of milk or cream to help give it a creamy consistency. Set aside.

Arrange the mushroom caps evenly in the skillet you used to sauté the mushroom stems and green onions. Fill each mushroom with a generous scoop of the cheesy pasta mixture.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small dish and stir the panko bread crumbs and granulated garlic with the melted butter until well combined. Sprinkle the seasoned crumb mixture evenly over the top of the mushrooms.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or just until the topping starts to turn golden and the mushrooms are tender. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes