- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Portobello mushrooms are perfect little containers for vegetables and cheese. If you’re eating breakfast on the run, keep in mind that these fit perfectly onto toasted English muffins, and can thus become a sandwich. Also, if you pack a lunch, these are a great choice.

The finished, cooked pizzas pack up — and reheat — beautifully. Store them in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before reheating in a 300-degree oven or a microwave.

The first paragraph of the instructions below offers a guide to cooking portobellos that greatly firms them up and condenses their flavor. Mushrooms prepared in this manner can be used in many ways beyond portobello pizzas.

Keep prepared mushrooms in your refrigerator (for up to a week) for a great convenience food that can perform double duty as both something to eat and something to hold other food, like scrambled eggs, cooked grains, potatoes, or beans — or any kind of leftovers. This can greatly expand your repertoire.

Portobello pizzas

4 medium (4-inch) firm portobello mushrooms, caps intact

Up to 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium tomato (8 ounces), not too ripe

Half a medium yellow or green bell pepper

Fresh spinach leaves, clean and dry (about a handful)

Dried thyme

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

About 6 ounces mozzarella cheese

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Remove the mushroom stems, and wipe the caps clean with a damp paper towel. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add a little olive oil, wait about 30 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan.

Place the mushrooms cap-side down in the hot oil, and let them cook undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Turn them over and cook on the other side for 10 minutes, then flip them over one more time, to cook for about 5 to 10 more minutes on their cap side once again.

Core the tomato and gently squeeze out the seeds through the opening. Cut the tomato and the bell pepper into very thin slices.

Soon before serving, heat the broiler. While it is heating, place the mushrooms cap-side down in a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish. Top each mushroom with a few spinach leaves, some slices of tomato and bell pepper, pinches of dried thyme, salt and pepper. Take your time covering the top with grated cheese, tucking it into every crevice and cavity, trying to cover everything (including the edges of the mushroom, so they won’t burn under the broiler).

Broil until the cheese melts and is turning golden. Watch carefully, as this will only take about 5 minutes or less. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 2 servings (2 small pizzas per person).

Mollie Katzen is the author of “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press). To contact her, go to www.molliekatzen.com.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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