01 August 2013

Mushroom Mezze - I Heart Cooking Club

Mezze - A spread of various vegetable and meat dishes that commonly act as a starter to a larger feast in Middle Eastern countries ... reminiscent of Spanish tapas or French hors d'oeurves. 

This evening was just such a nice, cozy affair ... it rained and got cool and drafty. SB and I were beat from spending the afternoon in a blackberry patch, picking berries for jams and a few nice desserts. By the time we were headed for home, the rain had started and we just wanted an easy vegetarian supper and some candlelight and wine. We had all these gorgeous vegetables sitting on the kitchen counters. I was hot to make these Ottolenghi portobella mushrooms, but I didn't want great big flying saucer-types, so we stopped at the market and found smaller 'baby bellas' to stuff with this wonderful vegetable and herb combo that Yotam Ottolenghi lists in his cookbook called Plenty.

Sweet onion, celery and celery leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, tarragon, and basil ... softened and melded with a bit of light olive oil and salt and black pepper. Tossed with some grated Parmesan and left to cool down and develop into a gooey filling. Baby portobella mushrooms rubbed up with a bit of olive oil and then turned cap up and roasted for about five minutes in a hot oven ... flipped and stuffed with the filling and baked with a slab of Fontina atop. Mmmm-mmmm good!

The beauty of this dish is that one can start the filling and while it cools down, make a quick salad or work on another mezze plate - awesome strategy if one is cooking for a little party of snackers. Making the dish with smaller mushrooms makes for a sizable platter of small bites for party folk. I halved the recipe and we opted for a nice green salad of vegetables ( Yay!  Use those tomatoes and cukes !) from the garden and a side of summer squashes sauteed with onions, herbs and pine nuts. This time of year? It's ALL about the vegetables!

This dish brings me back to The I Heart Cooking Club and the weekly posts that honor the work of Yotam Ottolenghi. I have been so busy in my everyday world that my IHCC posts have fallen by the wayside, but this week, it just seemed a perfect time to return to the fold. Check out what other participants are making to contribute to Mezze Madness ...

Stuffed Portobellas with Melting Fontina (or Taleggio)
a slightly adapted Ottolenghi recipe


4 very large (or 20 two bite-sized Baby Bellas) portobella mushrooms
4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 small sweet white onion, tiny dice
1 large celery stalk with leaves, tiny dice
2 c. sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh minced tarragon leaves
4 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, minced
3 ½ oz. Fontina or Taleggio cheese, cut into slabs to cover the filled mushrooms

Making the Dish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray an ovenproof platter with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and rub them clean with your fingers or a paper towel. Set them cap side up on the prepped baking pan.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan and add the onions, celery, tomatoes, and garlic. Sauté gently until the onions and celery glisten and the tomatoes have softened – about five minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the tarragon leaves and basil on a cutting board and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over top. Chop to create a fine cheese and herb mixture.
  5. Toss the cheese and herbs over the vegetables and remove from the heat. Toss to combine and let the cheese melt and the mixture cool.
  6. Brush the mushroom caps with some olive oil OR spritz them with the olive oil cooking spray. Roast them for five minutes in the preheated oven.
  7. Remove the mushrooms after the five minutes, flip them over and fill them with the vegetable mixture. Top each mushroom with a slab of the Fontina cheese and return them to the oven to roast for ten minutes or until the cheese is melting and gooey.
  8. Garnish the mushrooms with a bit more chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve piping hot.


  1. I love portobellas and these looks good! Though I have never tried fontina cheese before, I guess it will be good with any other cheese! Great pick!

    1. Smile ... yeah! Joyce, there's a story about that Fontina. SB and I were too tired to head to the cheesemonger to buy the taleggio cheese that Ottolenghi recommends for this recipe. Well, SB was too tired, so he insisted we could find it at the supermarket. Epic fail there ... and he heard about it allllll the way back to the grey cottage! It's a good thing the Fontina worked or he'd STILL be hearing about it! Smile ... yeah!

  2. These are so cute and cheesy...Such a perfect dish.

  3. These do sound good. I love small plate dining and this would be a hit at my table. Have a great weekend, Susan. Blessings...Mary

  4. Lovely appetizer, could go before our grilled dinner this evening!

  5. I almost went with these mushrooms for this round. After seeing your pictures, I'm a little sorry I didn't! It was the fancy cheese...I also didn't feel like making a special trip just for cheese. Your dish looks so fantastic, Susan! Really excited about this one!

  6. Your dish looks beautiful! I really like the idea of the sun dried tomatoes in the stuffing....they must have added huge flavour.

  7. I love "mushroom - anything". This sounds like one to try. Thanks Susan

  8. My children and I love to go berry picking! We always laugh because we feel compelled to pick all the berries. It's so hard to stop.

    I actually love that you used the baby bellas for this recipe. The size of the baby bellas makes them much easier to eat and serve. They look incredibly delicious with all that yummy melting cheese. Sounds like you all had a tasty dinner that night!

  9. It sounds like such a wonderful day and a perfect meal to end up on. Baby Bellas are the perfect choice for these--I like the flavor and texture much more than the larger ones. Yum!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous dish! I love mushroom and can virtually live on them. I am always keen to find new ways to cook and serve it. Thanks for sharing this..will try it very soon. :-)

  11. Oh yes please! Just delightful little bites! I really must make these sometime very soon!

  12. These "baby bella's" have me drooling, and what a perfect way to end a day out berry picking. Love your story about the cheese. Both Fontina and Taleggio can be hard to get in my part of the world, so I would probably opt for a combo of mozzarella (for the goo) and parmesan (for the flavour). Definitely need to make these.


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back.