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A&E >  Food

Portobello’s Just As Big As They Are Delicious

By Charlotte Balcomb Lane Knight-Ridder/Tribune

Portobello mushrooms are easy to spot in supermarkets because they look like alien vegetables straight out of a 1950s science fiction movie. These brown giants are several times larger than normal button mushrooms, but fortunately for consumers, they are as delicious as they are big.

Their flavor is robust, juicy and earthy and the texture is similar to meat, so they make an excellent, low-fat and low-calorie substitute for beef or chicken. Portobellos grow up to 6 inches in diameter, but the most practical size for a meal is about 3 to 4 inches across.

In this recipe for Mediterranean Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, the favorite herbs of the Middle East combine with spinach, matzo crumbs and feta cheese to create a delicious, low-fat stuffing. Plus, they can be stuffed and baked in advance.

If you can’t find portobellos, or the price tag is too high, use the stuffing to fill large domestic mushroom caps as appetizers. The recipe will make about 48 individual appetizers.

Mediterranean Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

2 (5-inch) square matzo crackers, crushed into crumbs, or 1/2 cup matzo crumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried mint leaves or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint leaves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

2 egg whites

6 portobello mushroom caps, each about 4 inches in diameter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If using whole matzos, crush into crumbs and set aside in a large bowl.

In a nonstick skillet, combine the olive oil, green onions, garlic and tomatoes and cook over low heat 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant.

Add the spinach, salt, basil, mint, nutmeg and black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the spinach mixture to the matzo crumbs. Stir in the feta cheese and egg whites.

Wash the smooth tops of the mushrooms to remove any dirt, being careful not to let water into the gills. Place the mushrooms, gill side up, in a baking dish and divide the spinach mixture evenly among them, patting the filling over each cap. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft. Serve at once or allow to rest at room temperature for up to 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 main-course servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 124 calories, 4.7 grams fat (34 percent fat calories), 9 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrate, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 832 milligrams sodium.

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = RECIPE, COLUMN - On the Light Side

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