A scrumptious vegetarian or vegan alternative to chicken parm!
I often turn to Portobellos for meatless meals; their rich flavour and firm texture make them a delicious and satisfying ingredient in many dishes, like this grilled Portobello dish. Even my meat-loving husband is very content when there’s a Portobello on his plate. In this case, breaded Portobellos are layered with a simple tomato sauce and topped with a mixture of Parmesan and mozzarella for a flavourful and appealing meal. If possible, select flatter, rather than bowl-shaped Portobellos as they will be easier to bread. If you prefer, you can also make this dish gluten-free or vegan (see substitutions below). I like to serve the cooked Portobellos on top of hot pasta, but they’re equally delicious on their own or tucked in a toasted bun with some crisp lettuce.
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 jar (680 mL/23 oz) Passata (crushed, strained tomatoes)
- Pinch baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) each dried oregano and basil
- Few dashes hot sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the mushrooms:
- 4 Portobello mushrooms
- 1/4 cup (30 g) flour (regular all-purpose or gluten-free)
- 1 egg (omit for vegan version)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) heavy cream (use 6 tablespoons/90 mL coconut milk or aquafaba for vegan version)
- 1 cup (50 g) Panko or other dry breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if preferred)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) each dried oregano, basil
- Few grinds salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
- 1 cup (114 grams) grated mozzarella (or vegan alternative)
- 1/2 cup (50 g) grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)
- Hot, cooked pasta (regular or gluten-free), to serve
- Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
- Make the tomato sauce up to 48 hours ahead of time by heating the olive oil in a medium saucepan placed over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 3 – 4 minutes, until translucent and softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Stir in the Passata, baking soda, oregano, basil, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Let the mixture come to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside if using within 2 hours; otherwise transfer to a clean jar or food storage container and refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with parchment and set aside.
- Brush any debris off the Portobellos with a soft, dry brush or cloth and remove the stems.
- Put the flour in a broad shallow bowl; add a few grinds of salt and pepper. Whisk together the egg and cream in a second broad shallow bowl (or whisk the coconut milk if using). Combine the panko, oregano, basil, salt and pepper in a third broad shallow bowl.
- Working with one mushroom at a time, dip the top side in the flour and brush the flour evenly across the surface of the mushroom with your fingertips. Next dip it in the egg mixture, tilting the bowl if needed, and brushing the mixture with your fingertips so it evenly coats the surface. Press the mushroom into the breadcrumbs then place it coated side up on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs to cover any uncoated spots, if needed. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.
- Spray or drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) of olive oil over each mushroom then put the tray in the oven and bake the breaded mushrooms for 15 minutes, to crisp the coating.
- While the mushrooms are baking, combine the mozzarella and Parmesan in a small bowl and set aside.
- Drizzle about 2/3 cup (160 mL) of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to hold the four Portobellos. Tilt the dish so the tomato sauce spreads out in an even layer, adding a bit more sauce if needed to coat the bottom of the pan.
- When the breadcrumb topping on the mushrooms is golden brown, remove the tray from the oven and carefully transfer the Portobellos, one at a time, to the baking dish with the tomato sauce in the bottom. Spoon 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the tomato sauce over each mushroom and return them to the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven and divide the cheese mixture evenly over the four mushrooms. Return to the oven and bake about 10 minutes longer, until cheese has melted and is just beginning to turn golden brown on top.
- While cheese is melting, cook pasta and drain. Return to pot and drizzle remaining tomato sauce over the cooked noodles and stir to combine. Divide the sauced pasta among four serving dishes then top each one with a cooked Portobello plus some fresh basil. Serve hot.