As a child, I hated mushrooms. There was something about the texture that I simply couldn’t stand. Thank God, many things have changed since those years when my breakfast consisted of a strawberry Pop Tart and my after-school snack was a box of Kraft Dinner shared with my sisters.
I’ve learned to not only appreciate food for their nutritious value and the incredible effect they have on my body, but I’ve also learned to appreciate their taste, sometimes after many trials and lots of perseverance.
Liking mushrooms or not has a lot to do with the way they are prepared. Slightly firm, crispy and undercooked mushrooms are so much better than the really soft, overcooked ones (which for some reason seemed to be the standard back in the 90’s).
Today, whenever I see mushrooms on a menu, I know it’s going to be a great dish. There’s an incredible uniqueness to the earthy, grounding flavour of mushrooms that gives character to any dish.
Portobellos are part of the button mushrooms family (which also include cremini and white mushrooms, the ones we most commonly see in grocery stores).
Portobellos are in fact crimini mushrooms that have been allowed to grow to full maturity. Easily the largest of the cultivated mushrooms, the portobello can measure up to 8 inches across.
Ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms to possess the keys to immortality and therefore only the pharaohs were allowed to enjoy them. A common person was not allowed to eat or even touch the prized fungus. Ancient Romans often called the mushroom a food of the gods, and during this time, many nations conferred mushrooms superhuman powers.
Yes, mushrooms do have lots of powers. Nutritional powers that is.
Mushrooms from the button family are all incredibly rich in many minerals, including selenium, copper, potassium and zinc. In addition, criminis and portobellos are very good sources of the B vitamins.
A single portobello contains more potassium than a banana (about 500 to 600 mg per serving!) which helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm and blood pressure.
They are also incredibly rich in selenium, which is essential to the health of the male reproductive system and to proper function of the thyroid gland. Adequate consumption of selenium-rich foods may be helpful in treating hypothyroidism.
This dish is a wonderful way to enjoy portobellos. It’s not the prettiest looking dish but don’t be fooled by the looks, it tastes delicious! The light and fragrant flavours of the herbs and lemon perfectly balance out the deep and earthy taste of the mushroom and wild rice.
Since it’s BBQ season, I recommend grilling the portobellos to obtain maximum flavour, although cooking them in the oven works perfectly well too. You can serve one of these as a side dish or a couple as a full meal.
- 1 cup wild rice
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ½ cup fresh mint
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Juice of ½ lemon + zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp honey (or maple syrup if vegan), optional
- ¾ cup pecans
- Knob of coconut oil or ghee
- 5-6 large portobello mushrooms
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place the wild rice in a fine mesh strainer and rince well under running water. Drain. Place in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups fresh water. Add a pinch of sea salt. Close the lid and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once it has boiled, reduce the heat to simmer while keeping the pot covered. Cook until the rice is chewy, about 45-50 minutes. The rice should be tender and some of the grains should start to open up. Once tender, drain off any remaining liquid and set aside in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven at 375F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and cook for 7-8 minutes, until they become slightly golden and fragrant. Let cool and chop with a knife.
- Place the basil, mint, parsley, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, honey, lemon zest (keep some zest to garnish) and a pinch of sea salt in your food processor and pulse. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- With a damp cloth or damp paper towel, wash the portobellos and remove any dirt. Remove the stems and brush both sides with some ghee or coconut oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.
- Place on the upper grill of your BBQ over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes (with the lid on). Flip and repeat on the other side.
- Alternatively, place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 375F for 8-9 minutes.
- Add the herb pesto to the wild rice and combine. Fold in the toasted pecans (keep some for topping). Add a generous portion of the rice mixture into each portobello. Garnish with the remaining pecans and some extra lemon zest.
Life is about moments, don’t wait for them, create them.