when i started making these mushrooms, i was a bit nervous. you see, this was not exactly my first attempt at making stuffed mushrooms. past attempts, which involved white button mushrooms, usually ended up in a soggy mess that didn’t really measure up to taste as well. so i got frustrated and shelved the thought of stuffed mushrooms – until i came upon a box of mini portobello mushrooms during one of my grocery store visits. i have never really used portobello mushrooms before and was looking up recipes online on how best to use them. the suggestion to maked them as stuffed mushrooms kept coming up – and i decided to give it one more try. logically reasoning that anything made with paneer (cottage cheese) just can’t go wrong, i used it as main ingredient, adding in tomatoes and topping it all off with cheddar cheese – the more the cheese, the better! 🙂 and to give it a bit of flavour, i used olive oil seasoned with garlic and chilli flakes. the real work came in when i prepped the mushrooms. following popular advice on the internet, i decided to remove the gills of the mushrooms – and this turned out to be far more difficult than i expected, especially since the mushrooms were prone to break easily. this alone took me the better part of half-an-hour (with just 9 or 10 mushrooms) – definitely not for those evenings when you need to put something together in say, 10 minutes.
once the mushrooms were done, i waited for them to cool a bit and then took a bite – with the flavours of the mushroom and cheese coming together, i felt like i was eating a mini shrooms pizza (without the dough)! 🙂 the natural flavour of mushrooms is enhanced in this dish and is complemented rather than submerged by the cheese stuffing – if you like mushrooms, you gotta love it 🙂 i was happy – this was the first time an attempt at making stuffed mushrooms came out looking ok and tasting better than ok 🙂 and these little morsels can double up as fancy appetizers. so, get your mushroom-loving friends together and serve these up. or even better, ask them to help you with prepping the mushrooms (esp when it comes to removing the gills) – i am sure they will be happy to do you the favour considering what they stand to gain at the end of it all 🙂
9 or 10 mini Portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup crumbled Paneer
1/4 Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 big tomato, minced finely (*i removed the seeds before mincing them)
1/2 small Onion, minced finely
5 tbsp Olive oil
1 heaped tsp Chilli flakes (* just dry-grind some dried red chillis)
Salt, to taste
Making the Stuffed Baked Portobello Mushrooms:
Wash your mushrooms and pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Remove the stems and keep aside if you want to use them in the stuffing or just discard them (I discarded the stems). Using a rounded teaspoon, gently remove the gills from the cap and discard them. Keep aside. Heat half the olive oil on a low flame, add in the garlic and keep for a few minutes and then add in the chilli flakes. the idea is to allow the flavours to get absorbed slowly, so don’t crank up the heat. When the garlic starts to get a bit brown, turn off the heat and take the pot off the stove. Add in the rest of the oil and mix well.
Preheat your oven to 200 deg C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, coat each mushroom with a bit of the oil from the heated mixture (on the top and bottom) and then place gill-side up on the parchment paper. Mix the crumbled paneer, minced tomato and onion well, adding salt while mixing them up. Once its well mixed, put the mixure into the remaining garlic-chilli-olive oil and mix well. Stuff each mushroom with about a spoonful of this mixture (or more if you are able to balance it), top with the grated cheddar and then put them into the oven to bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheddar cheese turns golden brown in colour. Serve immediately as these taste best when they are warm. (*When I baked these mushrooms, i noticed water seeping out after a while – in that case, just keep the mushrooms for a while in the oven even after you turn it off. The water will evaporate with the heat.)