Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Double Mushroom Portobello Pizzas

Though the title strikes me as redundant, I'm going with it anyway. I came up with the idea for these pizzas after C and I decided to back up off of flour for a little while. I still had some pizza sauce left over from when I made the phyllo dough pizza pockets, and I abhor waste. Abhor it. I knew I wanted to make pizzas and tried to think of what could serve for the base of one in the absence of the traditional, doughy goodness.

Of course, putting portobellos to this kind of use is hardly new. C and I were just the other day bemoaning how humdrum they've become. Many restaurants that are totally not veg-friendly at all will (in order to appear to be) put the same two items on the menu as every other place that wants to be able to claim that they are veg-friendly without actually being veg-friendly. If you yourself are veg-friendly, you likely know that these two items are 1) pasta of some description, probably with marinara or, more rarely, sauteed vegetables; and 2) the ubiquitous portobello burger. The latter of these is the commonest and easiest to veganize by leaving off the cheese (and you just know it comes with cheese). Then you end up paying $10 for a poorly cooked and seasoned mushroom cap on a dry bun with some anemic onions. Lame lame lame. 

In the face of these popular abuses, I decided to try to redeem the maligned portobello. I marinated them in Italian-inspired seasonings before lightly roasting. I didn't want them to get over-cooked (see description above). We both like our food to have some integrity, even after cooking. Then I filled the caps with crimini-laced pizza sauce, topped generously with Daiyya cheese, and baked again until hot and melty. The recipe follows. If I had one thing to do over about these, I'd make sure the mushrooms dried out just a bit more. Mushrooms have so much water that trying to dry them out can feel sort of sisyphusian, but you can certainly get close enough for these purposes. The resulting pizzas are toothsome, flavorful, and light.

Double Mushroom Portobello Pizzas

1 recipe pizza sauce (recipe follows)
1 recipe Italian marinade (recipe follows)
4 large portobello caps
1/2 c Daiyya Italian-style vegan cheese

Place portobellos in a shallow baking dish and cover with marinade. Let them sit for an hour or more, then flip and repeat. Preheat oven to 350. Place portobellos, gills down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip and roast 20 minutes more. When they are almost as tender as you want them to be, cover the tops with pizza sauce and then sprinkle with the cheese. You want to leave a narrow border between the edge of the cheese and the edge of the mushroom to reduce spillage and loss of melty, delicious, and expensive cheese. Let them cool for ten minutes before serving. Because we're lucky, we still had a bit of pepperoni crumbles, so we sprinkled those on top. You could, too. I'm just saying.  
Pizza Sauce

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 c chopped criminis (of more, if you really like them)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1 t salt

Saute garlic and onion just until translucent. Add criminis and cook 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Portobello Marinade

2 cups vegetable broth
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T thyme
1 T oregano
2 t garlic granules

Combine all ingredients.

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