Sometimes you need a lot of discussion, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes all you really need is a delicious and healthy dinner within 30 minutes of walking in the door after work. Sometimes you have arugula pesto in the freezer. And sometimes you want tomatoes in March.
Sadly, tomatoes in March are generally not allowed, so I’ll encourage you to whip this recipe out again in August, when you have a big, juicy beefsteak and have already had one-too-many tomato salads. That said, my fresh tomato refuge in winter is grape tomatoes, which somehow manage to be red and juicy most of the time. While they certainly aren’t local this time of year, they are passable until we start getting our farm box bounty (this week! Fashizzle!).
This recipe has you smear portabella caps with pesto and toss them in the oven. Once they’re almost cooked through, you top them with a simple conglomeration of halved grape tomatoes and goat cheese. And once that’s pretty much warm, you top it all with fresh mozzarella and cook until melty. A little salt and pepper, serve with a salad and some simple pasta or rice, and voila: delicious weeknight dinner.
While I made this with homemade arugula pesto, it would be just as delicious with basil pesto (homemade or not). If you’re using the storebought kind that comes in a jar, you may want to drain off some of the oil, as you’re looking for more of a paste than a sauce. Home Hydroponics in the Strip has delicious prepared basil pesto throughout the year.
Roasted Pesto Portabellas
A Burghilicious Original
As for scraping the gills out of portabellas: In a little research, I discovered that the main reason to scrape the gills out of your portabellas is that they might turn what you are cooking brown or grey, which, depending on what it is, might not be pretty. Therefore, in this dish, no need to scrape them out – and in fact, they are brilliant for holding on to pesto! So I say, don’t bother.
Olive oil for drizzling
4 large portabella mushroom caps, wiped clean and degilled if you like
1/4 cup pesto (or more)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
4 slices fresh mozzarella
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place portabella caps gill side up on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Smear at least 1 tablespoon pesto onto each mushroom, getting the pesto down into the gills. Transfer to oven and roast 10 minutes.
While mushrooms are roasting, combine tomatoes and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. After 10 minutes, top each portabella with the tomato-cheese mixture, then return for 5 minutes more. Finally, top each mushroom with fresh mozzarella and roast until the cheese is melted. Top with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and enjoy!