Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cooking Diaries: Portabella Mushroom Dinner

I love to cook. Some nights, I will be in the kitchen roasting the perfect chicken or stirring a risotto for dinner...but some nights, I am not in any mood to perform any sort of labor over food.
Tonight is such a night.

I have a few trusty recipes for these lazy-bum nights, but I have also just peered into the fridge and thrown anything edible into a large pan. Mmm...frozen peas, tofu, and cabbage, anyone? Since we have been trying to eat vegetarian meals at least twice a week, for health and environmental reasons, I decided to make a meal out of the portabella mushrooms I had on hand. Everything else involved is pretty much staples in my pantry and freezer - they are always available and ready-to-use (love it).

Here is my Cheesy Portabella Mushroom Dinner (for 2). Be warned: this is the ultimate lazy-bum dinner, if you are a food snob looking for a pretty dinner, look away, because it will upset you. Though, I do promise that it is cheesy and delicious.

The Ingredients:
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 portabella mushrooms, caps removed (you can just gently pop it off)
Some marinara sauce (optional)
Some red pasta sauce of your choice
Some shredded mozarella
Pasta of your choice (something small and sturdy is best, e.g. campanelle, rotini, penne, etc.)
Frozen, chopped spinach
Asiago cheese (or whatever hard cheese you may have on hand, optional)
2 tablespoons butter

1) Bring a pot of water to boil - add salt and (a little) oil to the water. When the water boils, cook the pasta according to package instructions.

2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat (enough for sauteeing), and add the portabella mushrooms. You want to keep the heat as high as you can without burning the mushrooms, so they stay juicy. After about 2-3 minutes, flip the mushrooms and let them finish cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper the mushrooms to your taste.

3) Spread 3-4 tablespoons of marinara (or if you don't have marinara on hand, just use the red sauce you have ready) onto each mushroom. Sprinkle shredded mozarella on top of the mushrooms, about 1/4 cup each - depending on the size of the mushrooms. Divide/cut 1 tablespoon of butter into little pieces and put on top of the mozarella, toss the other tablespoon of butter into the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cover. If you cooked this in an iron skillet, you can also stick it in the oven at this point. Cover until the cheese is melted.

4) When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Add the amount of red sauce you like, and stir in about 1/2 cup of frozen, chopped spinach. Stir over low heat until everything is heated through. Serve with the cheesy mushrooms.

A nice mesclun salad would be great with this meal. I, unfortunately, did not have any salad on hand :-(
Because this is a lazy-bum recipe, my instructions are lazy-bum instructions. It is a simple dinner so just eye-ball the measurements.

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