The first time I had a giant portobello mushroom was back when I thought vegetarians were weird and the only mushrooms I had ever known were of the button variety, came presliced and packaged in plastic wrap, and didn’t really do anything for me. But then my aunt served me a grilled burger whose patty was – gasp! – a giant mushroom. The surprisingly meatiness of the mushroom, in combination with its smokey flavor, was so satisfying that I barely missed the meat.
This time around, I got a little too excited at the prospect of using a portobello mushroom as the hearty plate for a smaller pasta dish, and went a bit overboard. Essentially, I made one initially confused dish, but was able to modify it into two separate, fantastic recipes that ended up working wonderfully. Part of the initial problem was that I really wanted to pair the mushroom with a more robust and fresh sun-dried tomato and spinach sauce, while Jay was in the mood for a cabonara sauce (egg, Parmesan, and bacon – or, in our case, pancetta). But, in trying to please both of us, I just did too much.
So please do as I say, not as I did. The sun-dried tomato and spinach sauce, unlike the carbonara, did a wonderful job of standing up to and enhancing the smokey, meaty portobello. I also liked that the sauce tasted delicious and fresh, and that the whole sauce-pasta-mushroom combination was healthy yet seemed very hearty (despite a smaller pasta serving) thanks to the mushroom.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of my initial carbonara-on-portobello combo because the mushroom completely overpowered the simplicity of the carbonara, I really loved how much more fun – and tasty – the carbonara became with a poached egg on top. (more…)