Foods of Summer: A World in Flames (May, 1999)

  Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

The Chef

Serves six.

6 medium portobello-mushroom caps
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 1/4-inch-thick fresh-mozzarella slices
6 ripe beefsteak-tomato slices, cut 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup pesto

Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups.
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt

Cooking Instructions
Slice each mushroom cap horizontally, making a sandwich. Brush with oil on both sides and arrange on a sheet pan cut-side-up. Season with salt and pepper.

Season the mozzarella and tomato slices with salt and pepper. Place 1 mozzarella slice on the bottom half of the mushroom, followed by a tomato slice, and finish off with the mushroom top. (The mushroom sandwiches can be assembled several hours before grilling and kept in the refrigerator, but take them out an hour before grilling to let them to come to room temperature.)

Start a hot charcoal fire on the grill and place the grate about 6 inches above the fire. Place the mushrooms on the grill facedown. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them over and grill for an additional 3 to 4 minutes; the mozzarella should start to melt.

Place the grilled mushroom caps on individual plates, drizzle with pesto, and serve.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 4 to 5 minutes until fragrant and golden brown. Shake the pan once or twice during toasting and take care that the nuts do not burn. Transfer to a plate and cool.

Combine in a blender 3/4 cup of the oil, garlic, 1 cup of the basil, and the pine nuts. Process until nearly smooth. Add the remaining basil, and process until nearly smooth. Add the cheese and pulse to combine. Season with salt. Use immediately or transfer to a glass or plastic container for storage. Top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cover, and refrigerate. Will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.

Best With
A mixed green salad, such as Patricia Yeo's Arugula Salad.