On our honeymoon, Joey and I visited a great Italian restaurant in New York City. It was the most expensive meal of our vacation, with us spending a generous gift from a family member that was earmarked for just that purpose.
The place wasn’t all that fancy to look at, but when your waiter is so quintessentially Italian that he’s singing along with the opera music playing in the background, you know you’re about to experience something authentic.
We ordered a bottle of wine, and our waiter suggested an appetizer of some fresh mozzarella that was flown in from Italy the day before, so we decided to go for it.
He plopped a plate in front of us with a giant mound of mozzarella, garnished with fresh basil and tomatoes—and we had no idea how to eat it.
This week, we again enjoyed that flavor combination with a slightly less intimidating side dish, and it was delicious. I will admit this is on the pricier end of recipes from what I normally suggest, but if you’re looking for something special—or you find a good sale—keep this one in your recipe box.
This recipe comes from the blog “Fat Girl Happy.” You can find it at https://www.fatgirlhappy.com/caprese-portabella-mushroom-recipe/. The only difference we made was leaving out the suggestion of balsamic vinegar, and I put amounts to the ingredients.
Caprese Portabella Mushrooms
- 5-6 portabella mushroom caps about two-inches in diameter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella
- about 5 ounces grape tomatoes
- about 1/2-ounce fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup and lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Scoop out the insides of each mushroom cap and arrange them, with the insides facing up, on the cooking sheet.
- Lightly drizzle the mushroom caps with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.
- Slice the mozzarella into equal slices—one slice for each mushroom cap—and place one slice into each.
- Slice the grape tomatoes in half and place four to five halves on top of the cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes. (You may want to drain the sheet pan if there’s too much liquid on the pan, but we didn’t bother draining ours, and they were fine.)
- Turn the broiler on high for one to three minutes or until the cheese starts to brown slightly.
- Remove from the oven and top with the fresh basil and a little more olive oil and salt and pepper and serve while they’re nice and hot.
These were heavenly. We ate them as a side dish to some expertly prepared chicken breasts Joey made for us. It was a great dinner.
As for our Italian meal in New York, Joey and I discreetly glanced around at neighboring tables to see how we should dig into our mozzarella appetizer. Everyone else had opted to dive in with forks, so we did, too.
It was really good, although it was way more fresh cheese than the two of us could handle in one sitting, with entrees on the way as well.
That restaurant was one of the highlights of our trip, and we reminisced about it while we enjoyed our portabellas the other night. We’re no substitute for an Italian chef, but we certainly didn’t go hungry.
This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 24, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.