It’s the month for mushrooms

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The humble mushroom can be unassuming. Yes, it does have a great flavor on its own. Depending on the variety, it can be mellow, earthy or very robust. One of the most unique qualities mushrooms possess is the ability to take on the flavor of the medium it is cooked in or method in which it is cooked. Since September is “National Mushroom Month,” it seems appropriate to feature mushrooms in this week’s column with a recipe “borrowed” from a local mushroom grower.
I was fortunate to be invited to the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau’s Annual Summer Barbecue dinner in July. As you would expect, many of the items served were grown in the South Valley and immediate surrounding areas. I knew chicken and beef were on the menu, but one item that took me by surprise was the grilled mushrooms.
OK. I shouldn’t have been too surprised that mushrooms were to be part of the meal as the head of the cooking crew was local mushroom grower Don Hordness of Royal Oaks Mushroom. What did surprise me were the unique ingredients used to serve the mushrooms as an appetizer. After the mushrooms had spent a little time on the grill, some mushroom caps received marinara-style sauce, while others received a dose of pesto sauce. If that doesn’t already sound wonderful, the sauces were followed by Mozzarella cheese in some and colby Jack cheese in others. The sauce warmed and bubbled as the cheese melted while the mushrooms finished cooking throughout.
I feature crimini mushroom as an individual appetizer. The mature portobello mushroom may be used in its place as a main meal. With portobello mushrooms, add a little more filling and increase the grilling time until the mushrooms are tender. This recipe is for the pesto sauce and mozzarella combination. Also, try the marinara and colby Jack cheese variation with the same cooking method and quantities. Purchased sauces may be used in place of homemade versions. Also, consider your own similar version of grilled stuffed mushrooms with different sauces or your favorite soft cheese.
Grilled Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms
30 portions
Ingredients
30 crimini mushrooms
Olive oil (for the mushrooms and grill)
8 ounces pesto sauce, at room temperature
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Using a soft cloth, brush any loose matter from the tops of the mushrooms. Prepare the mushrooms by removing the stem and reserving it for use in another dish such as a salad, sauce or casserole. Using a small spoon, scoop out the dark gills of the mushroom and discard. It is OK if a little remains. Brush the inside and outside of the mushrooms with a little olive oil and small dash of salt and pepper.
Step 2: After the grill is heated to about a medium high, brush the grate with a little olive oil to prevent the mushrooms from sticking. Place the open “cupped side” of the mushrooms down on the grill for about four minutes. Turn the mushrooms so the “cup side” is now facing up. Grill for about three minutes.
Step 3: Remove the mushrooms from the heat and place about a teaspoon size portion of pesto in the mushroom cap followed by about a tablespoon of the mozzarella cheese. Return the mushrooms to the grill and cover the grill with its lid. Continue to grill the mushrooms an additional three to four minutes until the sauce is bubbling, cheese is melted and the mushrooms are tender.
Mitch L. Mariani II is a self-taught amateur chef. Reach him at [email protected]

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