Simone Appetit: Portobellos — so much room |

Simone Appetit: Portobellos — so much room

Portobello mushroom pizzas are easy, low-cal', versatile and delicious.
Courtesy Simone Grandmain |

Get it? So “much room” a play on “so mushroom?” Of course you do, that’s why you are going online right now to find a recipe without having to wade through a bad joke.

Hold it! Just hold everything and hear me out. There really is so much room in a portobello mushroom. Why have you been grilling it in strips all these years? Why have you been roasting it and then putting it between two slices of bread or shoving it into a panini?

It is the bread! It is the panini! I am in love with the portobello, not just because they have endured years of misuse with dignity, but they have reunited me with a long lost friend — the pizza.

Let me explain: I love pizza. I have a mozzarella colored bed spread and little pepperoni throw pillows. When I lived in Bali, my favorite food was pizza (no easy feat. I got very thin.) If there had been a pizza oven on the Titanic, I would have saved it. I have pizza earrings and erasers shaped like pizza slices, though I do not have pierced ears or own a pencil. I think the nickname “pizza face” (not mine) is sexy.

Yes, I am a pizza-phile and I am not alone. How do I know this? Because when I went to get my personalized vanity plates for my car, all the pizza combos were taken. That’s right; pizza1, piecaluv, thepeza, etc.

So, you may be wondering, why not fore-go my quest for great recipes to share with the masses and let them eat pizza? One word: carbs. One more word: my thighs. Woman cannot live on pizza alone and still hope to cross her legs — it is just not going to happen.

Enter the portobello pizza. One huge portobello mushroom has six calories and is absolutely built to hold all the pizza toppings you call friend (except mushrooms, that would be over-kill). Plus, they are so easy to put together — faster than calling take-out, or your mushroom is free.

Bring them home from your local grocer, clean out the middles a little, and stuff to you to heart’s, stomach’s, and thighs’ content.

Portobello mushroom pizza

Lately I have been using light sausages (Jennie-O spicy ground turkey) and lite Gallo salami, more sauce and less cheese, just to keep these a truly low-cal meal, but you can beef them up or down, depending on your level of confidence in your swimwear.

The portobellos are also great topped with pesto, fresh tomatoes slices, shrimp, kalamata olives, or Canadian bacon and pineapple. Following is my basic starter recipe.


4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onions

2 tbls. tomato paste

1⁄3 cup spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup lite mozzarella, shredded

3 tbls. shredded Parmesan

2 tbls. chopped kalamata olives

15 pieces salami, chopped

or 1⁄3 cup spicy turkey sausage, cooked in frying pan, fat drained off

If using sausage you can add 1/4 cup fresh spinach, chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place mushrooms on baking sheet and bake for five minutes. Remove from oven. Mix tomato paste, spaghetti sauce and onions in small bowl. Spread in cup of the mushroom cap.

Top with mozzarella cheese, olives, salami or sausage/spinach combo. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool for about 8 minutes before eating.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at

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