Portobello Parmesan

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I always get a kick out of Crimini mushrooms labeled as “baby portobellos” to make an extra buck. It’s true, that’s what Crimini mushrooms are — young portobellos — but young mushrooms should actually cost less money, not more, because they took less time to grow. Portobellos, large and small, are a very hearty mushroom capable of being a reasonable meat substitute. This is how I have substituted them for chicken in this dish without fault.

Often chicken will be dredged in a crispy batter coating prior to being adorned with its tomato and cheese accompaniments for such a dish, but not only do mushrooms not fare so well with breading because of their high moisture content, but breading things that are going to be covered in sauce always seems like a strange practice to me. Of course, this whole process could be hurried by buying a jar of sauce and baking it along with the mushrooms, but the flavors are more concentrated and the meal less runny when things are done separately.

Few things trump a good tomato sauce and gooey cheese dish. I dare say you could put anything under there and still make mouths happy. I think I hear an eggplant calling my name…

Portobello Parmesan


  • 19 ounce can plum tomatoes
  • sugar, salt and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, stems and gills removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • (optional) 4 slices of Genoa salami
  • 6 ounces mozzarella or provolone cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated


Pour the tomatoes into a pot and cook over medium heat until the liquid has nearly entirely evaporated and the tomatoes are falling apart. Break apart with a spoon and season to taste with salt, sugar, and red pepper flakes to make a very basic tomato sauce.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place the portobellos in a high-high resistant dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, pat dry and preheat the broiler to high.

Put a slice of salami in each mushroom cap, top with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Make the cheese bubble up to golden gooey deliciousness about 6″ away from the broiler. You may need to prop the oven door open an inch to keep the broiler from shutting off. Allow to cool slightly before serving or risk scalding via mushroom juices.

The mushroom stems can be roasted along with the caps and eating as is, or chopped up and adding to whatever dish mushrooms are deemed appropriate. These were served with simply boiled broccoli dressed with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of a basil and garlic oil I had leftover from a roasted red pepper dish.

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