- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the dish
- 3 portobello mushroom caps
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 4 ounces buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Scrape out the gills of the portobellos with a spoon, then halve the mushrooms horizontally to make 6 thin rounds.
2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic; cook 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomatoes and basil and cook until the garlic is soft, about 15 more minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Combine the panko, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and 2 tablespoons cold water in another bowl. Put the flour in a third bowl.
4. Dredge the mushrooms in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the eggs and then in the panko mixture, pressing to coat both sides. Heat 1/2 inch peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the mushrooms until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
5. Spread a layer of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish. Add the fried mushrooms, then cover with the remaining tomato sauce. Top with the mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan. Bake until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
Courtney Credle, Food Network Magazine, March 2011
Let me start by saying that the tomato sauce for this recipe with a little parmesan would be worth making in itself as a simple tomato sauce for nearly any dish. The parmesan tames the acidity of the tomato and adds a nice sweetness while thickening the sauce. Second, it is absolute genius to deep-fry portobellos and cover them in cheese. The panko-pamersan combination crisps up perfectly as it fries, allowing the portobellos to retain their shape and texture despite being covered in sauce and baked. I was pleasantly surprised to find none of the mushiness I had fearfully expected. This is a hearty vegetarian dish, both filling and packed with flavor. The only change I made was that I used less oil for the frying (about 1/8 inch) which I thought was plenty. I also nearly doubled the crushed red pepper for added spice and the basil for added flavor. This is a recipe that encourages play – you could use slight variations of the sauce or add an additional layer – but it’s also perfect just the way it is. Though not for those of you on a diet!