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If you know me – or read many of my recipes – you already know that we eat a LOT of mushrooms.
In fact, mushrooms are a staple in our home for side dishes and stuffings and meals alike. They often play a starring role in our meatless mains.
Which means I have to keep finding ways to reinvent them into tasty new meals.
Quinoa is another frequent flier here, because it’s more than a filler carb. In fact, it’s the only grain that is a complete protein. What’s that mean, you ask? Quinoa contains those necessary amino acids that we humans cannot produce ourselves – all nine of ’em! In short, its protein and nutrient-rich punch more than offsets its carb content.
So what’s a frugal femme to do to whip up something less-than-bland with those two ingredients?
Enter the garden bounty. We have tomatoes and basil out the wazoo thanks to an above average growing season. FUN FACT: my tomato plants this year were taller than I! 🙂
Anyway, the hubs suggested some homemade pizza sauce, and I got to thinking….why not mix it into some quinoa?
Stuff it into some roasted mushroom caps, top it with fresh basil and mozzarella, and voila! Pizza margherita quinoa portabella caps became a thing.
I used up a lot of tomatoes with this pizza sauce recipe from those great cooks over at Make Your Meals. And since it uses the Instant Pot, it really couldn’t have been much easier. One batch of this yielded me six quart-size freezer bags of sauce with about 2 cups of sauce per bag.
Start Prepping Your Caps
Begin by gently wiping loose debris off the caps with a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel.
If you’re not sure why to wipe instead of rinse, it’s because rinsing introduces a lot of moisture into the mushroom. The moisture can take a lot of the earthy, natural flavors of the mushroom away, leaving them rather tasteless. Worse, it can toughen them up, and no one wants to eat a ‘shroom with a texture like a pencil eraser!
After cleaning, remove the stems – if they are attached – and gently scrape out the gills with a spoon. Feel free to save the stems, we often use them to help flavor stock. Or you can chop them finely, sauté them, and add them to the quinoa. You can even discard them or compost them, no judgment here!
Preheat your oven to a good roasting temperature, 425 degrees F, and place the caps on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. The paper will help keep your baking sheet clean and absorb some of the moisture the caps throw off during roasting.
Rub the caps with olive oil and season with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper before adding them to the preheated oven.
Roast them for 15-20 minutes until tender and nicely browned. They should have a little softness to them when pressed with your finger but spring back into shape.
Make Your Quinoa and Get that Basil Ready
While the mushrooms roast, bring 2 cups of liquid to a boil over high heat. Notice I said liquid, because we prefer to cook ours in stock for extra flavor. I used chicken broth, but beef or vegetable would also work. And water is perfectly fine, too.
Once boiling, add 1 cup of quinoa and turn heat back to medium. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by this point.
Remove the quinoa from the heat, uncover and allow to stand about 3 minutes to soak up any remaining liquids.
As the quinoa cooks, coarsely chop most of the basil or slice it into thin ribbons, reserving some of the smaller leaves for garnish.
Stir the basil into the quinoa with about 1/2 cup of your pizza sauce of choice. You want just enough sauce to bind the quinoa together, so if it needs more, add it in small increments to avoid it getting too runny.
Stuffing the ‘Shroom Caps
After your caps are nicely roasted and tender, remove the excess liquids from the inner parts of the caps with dry paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
I transferred mine at this point to oven-safe serving dishes. I didn’t want to roast them in the dishes because of all the accumulated juices underneath possibly making the bottom mushy. Plus, I was too lazy to cut the parchment paper to size. 😉
Place about a 1/2 cup of the pizza quinoa mix into the cap, evening it out with the back of the spoon. Top each cap with 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella from a pre-sliced log – enough to cover most of the surface.
Return the caps to the oven and bake 5-7 minutes longer until the cheese has melted.
Top the caps with the reserved basil to garnish and serve immediately.
We paired ours with a tossed green salad to round out the meal.
You could also put these under the broiler to brown the tops of the cheese – I might try that next time, that sounds so good.
Let me know what you’re making with all the goodies from your end-of-summer garden this year!
Comments or questions? Please reach out to me below, and watch for our next post, Zesty Ranch Chicken Bacon Broccoli Bake, coming soon….
Pizza Margherita Quinoa Stuffed Portabella 'Shroom Caps
A tasty new twist on pizza for a meatless main!
- 3/4 C quinoa
- 2 C water or stock for cooking quinoa
- A few sprigs of fresh basil, coarsely chopped, small leaves reserved for garnish
- 4 large poratbella mushroom caps, stems removed and gills scraped
- 1/2 C pizza sauce of choice
- Pre-sliced log of fresh mozzarella cheese (2 or 3 slices per cap)
- Bring water or stock to a boil on high heat. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- While water boils and oven preheats, prepare mushroom caps by wiping them clean, removing stems, and scraping gills.
- Place caps onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Coat with olive oil and season with garlic salt and pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown and tender.
- Add quinoa to boiling liquid, turn heat back to medium, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While quinoa cooks and mushrooms roast, coarsely chop basil, reserving some smaller leaves for garnish.
- Remove quinoa from heat, uncover and allow remaining liquid to absorb, about 3 minutes. Once absorbed, stir in chopped basil and pizza sauce.
- Pat mushrooms dry with clean paper towels or kitchen towels and transfer to individual oven-safe serving dishes. Top each with about 1/2 cup of the quinoa mixture and 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella.
- Return to oven and continue baking until cheese melts, about 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, you can broil the cheese until melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.