Portobello mushrooms are a natural fit for stuffing due to their size and shape. They are like little veggie plates. Some recipes for stuffed mushrooms are rich and decadent, while others are light and full of various chopped vegetables. I wanted to make a stuffed portobello that lived somewhere in the middle and could be served as a main course entree. This recipe could use any kind of sausage as the flavors really come from the spices in the sausage as well as the tomato based sauce. I used turkey sausage because it is lighter than pork and there was absolutely no sacrifice in flavor.
A few things really helped make this dish a success. First, the base of the sauce is tomato sauce and a dry white wine. Many people like to use red wine with tomato based recipes, but I have found that using white leads to a brighter, lighter and very flavorful base. Second, I precooked the mushrooms. This allowed me to fully cook the stuffing and put the assembled mushrooms under the broiler for a short amount of time to melt and brown the cheese.
The stuffing was quick to prepare. Once the onion and sausage were nearly cooked, I added the liquids and brought to a simmer. I included additional vegetables, zucchini and spinach, for color and nutritional value and intentionally cooked those a short time to retain some firmness. There was quite a bit of extra stuffing, which was basically a very thick sauce, and we ate that over rice.
This recipe could also work with small button mushrooms and served as an appetizer. The flavors were really wonderful and it was nice to achieve that without loads of butter and cheese.
The wine that I served with this meal was wonderful. I got it recently as a local wine shop that is moving so they had a limited selection and there was this lone 1999 Nebbiolo from Italy that was begging for a new home.
The wine had a wonderfully perfumed aroma that I savored for ages before even taking a sip. The wine, which was not a Barolo but was made in the same area and from the same grape, had a dark color but was light in body (the wine was actually 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Barbera). The rich and elegant flavors were subtle yet confident. I really loved this wine. An essence of earthiness, dark cherries and herbal notes helped this wine sing in the glass. Of course, this has to be my favorite wine in a while because I have no idea where to get more. Sigh.
4 large portobello mushroom caps
4-5 Italian sausages, hot or sweet (pork, turkey or vegetarian), casings removed
1 small onion, diced
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
4 cloves garlic
8 oz tomato sauce
4 oz dry white wine
1 t oregano
1 t dried parsley
2 handfuls spinach
2 small zucchini, diced
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Remove any stem from the portobello and roast gills down on a foil lined pan for 15 minutes.
2. In 1 T olive oil, brown onion and sausage until nearly cooked. Add thyme and garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add tomato sauce, oregano, parsley and wine. Simmer 15 minutes until reduced. Add zucchini. Cook 5 more minutes. Add spinach and romano and stir until spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool slightly.
4. Top mushrooms with sausage mixture and mozzarella cheese. Broil 5 minutes until cheese is melted.