Portobello Pizzas

March 29, 2006 at 8:39 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

Looking for a new way to cook portobello mushrooms, I came across recipes for portobello pizzas. I love pizza, and so instantly jumped at the chance to try this lighter version.

Portobellos are 80 to 90 percent water, so they can become quite soggy, especially when topped with tomato sauce.  Cook’s Illustrated says that salting portobellos makes them slimy.  Apparently, mushroom exteriors are covered with a layer of hydrophobic (water-repellent) proteins that prevents water from going in—and keeps moisture from going out. Instead of salting the mushrooms, they recommend cutting slits in the caps before roasting them, to allow water to drip out and evaporate.  They also recommend preheating the baking sheet, to mimic the effects of a hot skillet and produce a carmelized exterior and deeper flavor.

Three favorite pizzas:

1 portobello mushroom cap
2 Tbs. pizza sauce (I used muir glen brand)
1/2 ounce cheese (I used a great, meltable sheep’s milk cheese)
3 kalamata olives
1 Tbs. red onion, chopped

1 portobello mushroom cap
1/4 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1/2 ounce cheese (I used fontinella)

1 portobello mushroom cap
1 Tbs. pesto
1/2 ounce feta cheese
1 Tbs. red onion, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. lemon juice (sprinkle on top after mushroom comes out of the oven)

Adjust oven rack to upper position.  If the rack is still more than a few inches from the top of the oven, place an ovenproof skillet on the rack (I used my cast iron skillet).  Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack (or the skillet), and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Clean mushrooms, and remove the stem. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch slits, spaced 1/2 inch apart, in crosshatch pattern on the surface of the mushroom (non-gill side).  If you like, you can brush the caps with oil and sprinkle with a little salt, and pre-roast them for about 10 minutes on each side. It will lead to a more concentrated flavor and carmelized texture, but it’s not essential.  Top the mushrooms and bake for about 10 minutes, until the mushroom is soft and the cheese flecked with brown spots.

My Notes:

This is definitely a keeper for when I get that pizza craving. And lower calorie than using a tortilla or pita. Derek didn’t think the mushroom added much, but I liked the moist but firm texture, and thought it made a lovely base for the toppings. Next time I’m going to try Cook’s Illustrated’s suggestions, and I bet it will be less soggy and Derek will like it better. I bet kids would love it as well.

My pesto pizza turned out terribly, but maybe my pesto just wasn’t good. It was from the freezer and not the best pesto.  My other two pizzas were excellent I thought.

I didn’t remove the gills because I’m lazy, but maybe this would provide more room for the toppings? It was kind of hard to get the apples to stay on.

I think using 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of cheese per mushroom is best, depending on the size of the mushroom. You can chop the stem up and use it as a topping if you like, or put it in the freezer and save for vegetable broth.

Note from second try– make sure the mushrooms get cooked enough!

Rating: B
Derek: C

Update Oct 2011:  I made portobello pizzas again but this time I forgot to cut slits in the gils.  Instead I rubbed a bit of oil into each portobello top (non-gill side), and roasted them at 400 F in the oven for about 30 minutes, until they were getting dried out.  Only then did I add the tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings.  I think they turned out better.  They weren’t watery at all.  They were still pretty hard to cut though!  Derek even liked them this time.


  1. kathleen palmer said,

    Hi; I am a reluctant semi-vegan, (medical reasons) whose doctor has said that I can have only vegetables, fish from the North Atlantic and sheep/goat milk products. I make a mean eggplant parmesan and would love to hear about your “meltable sheeps milk cheese” listed in the Portobello Mushroom recipe above. What is it called and where do you purchase it? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated! KInd regards,

  2. captious said,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. Unfortunately, I wrote that post
    such a long time ago I have no recollection of what kind of cheese it
    was. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. If you have any other
    questions please do write again and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

  3. Maria Gatti said,

    kathleen, try an Italian or Greek grocery; there are many meltable sheep’s milk cheeses.

    Pizza is a healthy dish though, provided one makes it with organic wholegrain flour, and without too many high-fat toppings.

  4. Relly P said,

    if you brush the mushroom tops with oil and then roast them at 425 for 15 minutes on each side, they should be perfect for a pizza base. The bigger mushrooms are pretty juicy like this though so you may want to use a knife and fork to keep mushroom juice from running down your hands.

    These pizzas are so yummy and so great for wheat intolerant / celiac people (like myself)!

  5. captious said,

    Thanks, I’ll try that next time I make these.

  6. rusty zipper said,

    i poked a knife thru the caps, and am baking them at 425. made my own pizza sauce, thicker than the bottled stuff, and laying on the mozz. thanks for the inspirations.

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