I am so very amused by this recipe title, but really, what else could I call it? If I called it ‘Mushroom Pizza’, that would sound as though I was talking about pizza with mushrooms on it. Whereas this, my friends, is mushrooms with pizza on it, which I think you will agree is far more exciting!
It started like this:
That’s more than 300g of mushroom in one fine, fungal package there. I think we can all agree that this is a mushroom that has made an effort. A mushroom that knows what it wants. A mushroom that deserves respect.
It is certainly not a mushroom that should be chopped or sliced and braised in a stew or sauté with other vegetables. That, I am sure, would be wasteful. No, this sort of mushroom deserves to be served whole, in all its fungal fabulousness.
Thus the advent of the mushroom as pizza base. I’ve made mushrooms stuffed with pesto before, so that seemed like the place to start with my pizza, but I also couldn’t resist making one in the configuration of the pita bread pizzas I used to make under the grill as a child.
They didn’t look quite as pretty as I’d hoped once they were done, but they tasted *amazing*. Oddly, I’m not the biggest mushroom fan (just a fan of the biggest mushrooms), but these had just the right amount of mushroominess – they were meaty and satisfying and not even a little bit slimy. (Where does the sliminess come from, I wonder? I had slimy mushrooms when I ate out recently, but I’ve never produced them myself – there is clearly a technique to it. One I wish to avoid.)
These pizzas – pizzettas? funghizzettas? – still fall into the ‘light meal’ category, but they would certainly work for lunch, or for dinner with a reasonably substantial dessert. Which reminds me that I do have a recipe for risotto with strawberries and champagne somewhere…
Your Shopping List2 enormous mushrooms, or 4-6 portobello mushrooms of more moderate size. You want about 650 g mushrooms overall. olive oil spray salt, pepper 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes 250 g bocconcini, or a small ball of mozzarella tomato paste oregano 1 roasted pepper For the Cheat’s Pesto 50 g pinenuts 1 tube of Gourmet Garden fresh basil in a tube 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1 clove garlic salt, pepper
Now what will you do with it?
Peel the mushrooms if desired, and remove the stems. You can use them chopped up for mushroom mince or a stuffing elsewhere, but you don’t need them today.
Put the mushrooms gill-side-up on an oven tray and spray with olive oil.
Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (and maybe a little chilli and fennel seed) and put in the oven for about 8 minutes at 180°C.
Turn the mushrooms over, spray and sprinkle as before (and now I have this terrible tomcat image in my head, so let’s be clear that we are talking about olive oil and seasonings and nothing else), and bake for another 8 minutes.
While the mushrooms are roasting, prepare your toppings.
For the cheat’s pesto, start by toasting your pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden.
Pour them into a bowl or a mortar and pestle, and smash them up (the end of a rolling pin works well for this). Squeeze in the basil and mix through.
Add salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and one clove of crushed garlic. Mix everything together until well combined.
Slice up your roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.
When the mushrooms are ready, set them gill-side-up again and spread one thickly with the pesto (if you are using smaller mushrooms, assume you have pesto to cover about half your mushroomage).
Top with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.
Spread the other mushroom lightly with tomato paste, sprinkle with dried oregano and scatter the sliced roasted pepper over the top. Top with more mozzarella.
Bake or grill everything for about five minutes, or until the cheese is melty and beginning to colour.
This recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian, and egg-free. I suspect it may also be low-GI, on the grounds that there is very little carbohydrate of any kind involved, though I have my suspicions about that pesto. It can easily be veganised by either skipping the cheese entirely or by using a vegan cheeze. A nut-free version could be made using sunflower seeds, or perhaps breadcrumbs to thicken the basil? I’m less sure of this. My brain isn’t working very well right now.
One variation that springs instantly to mind is that in the height of summer, it would be lovely to skip the final grilling step with the pesto mushrooms, and serve them as they are, with roasted mushroom and fresh pesto, tomatoes and bocconcini. Yum.
You could also have fun with different kinds of pesto – I do think pistachios might be a fun pesto addition.
The other variation that springs to mind is every single pizza topping you could ever imagine – seriously, just treat these mushrooms as a template for a gluten-free and tasty pizza base of the somewhat low-carb variety, and go for your life. I really can’t over-state how surprisingly awesome they are.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Recipe: Oaty Choc-Chip Cranberry Biscuits Two years ago: Recipe: Macaroni Cheese with Chipotle Peppers, Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables