How to Have Your Mushrooms and Eat Them Too

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If you’ve ever run into us at the grocery story, I don’t blame you for thinking that my little J loves mushrooms. It would be a totally acceptable belief given the evidence: J sitting in the cart with a blue styro package of pre-washed sliced mushrooms on his lap as he happily chows down on slice after slice of tasteless white shroom.

It’s totally true. Whenever we get to the produce section, he demands that we head to the mushrooms, demands that I pass him a blue pack and demands that I tear a whole in the plastic wrap so his pudgy fingers can get through. Then he eats his way through half the packet and absolutely refuses to share any with me.

But what do you think happens when we get home?

“I don’t like those mushrooms, Mommy. They’re so yucky!”

He won’t eat them raw. He won’t eat them cooked. If he detects even the slightest hint of mushroom

in a sauce or casserole, he refuses to even try it.

He’s 3 *sigh*. What do you expect.

I shrug and use the rest of the boring sliced white mushrooms on top of salads. And when I want a real, flavorful mushroom fix, I make these Portobello Mushroom Rafts. The beauty: J can happily eat the mushroom-free filling while hubs and I get a shroomie feast.

Portobello Mushroom Rafts

These can be made ahead, refrigerated and then microwaved briefly to warm through. Serve topped with the below Spanish Quinoa or with any rice or barley pilaf. They also make a nice base for grilled filet mignon or for chicken parmesan (bread chicken scallopini, fry/bake until golden and cooked through, top with mozzarella and/or parmesan, top cheese with hot tomato sauce, lay the cheesy saucy chicken on top of the warm mushroom raft).

Serves 4

  • 2 tsp olive oil (divided)
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, stems and fins removed
  • 4 pinches garlic powder
  • 4 grinds black pepper
  • 4 pinches salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Rub a baking pan with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil (make sure you use a pan with an edge so the mushroom juices don’t spill out into your oven).

Place the mushrooms top side down on the pan. Drizzle each mushroom with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle each mushroom with a pinch of garlic powder and a grind of pepper.

Place pan of mushrooms into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through. Sprinkle each mushroom with a pinch of salt. Transfer mushrooms to a plate. If there is any liquid in the pan, pour it into a bowl and save it to add to the filling below or to a sauce or soup.

Spanish Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain-like crop known for being a complete protein and a good source of fiber. It has a light fluffy texture and mild nutty flavor. My whole family likes it (J especially likes the little spirals around the grains). I hope yours does too!

Here’s some great info from Daily Unadventures in Cooking about how to wash and cook quinoa.

The instructions given below work for the brands of quinoa available in my grocery store. Consult the cooking instructions on your box to find out if the proportion of liquid to quinoa (2:1 here) and the cooking time will work for your brand. Some boxes insist that you wash the quinoa before cooking. Others don’t. I always rinse mine.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup quinoa, washed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (or 1/4 tsp hot or smoked paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • mushroom juices from above mushroom raft recipe (optional)
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • 6 large Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos or 1 jarred roasted red pepper (I prefer those t hat do not contain any sweeteners in the brine), chopped

Combine the quinoa, broth, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and a tiny spiral appears around each grain.

Add the olive oil and mushroom juices (if using). Fluff gently with a fork. Taste and add a bit of salt and black pepper if desired.

Pile onto warm mushroom rafts (for those who like mushrooms) or onto small plastic children’s plates (for those who don’t like mushrooms – if it’s for an adult, you have my permission to use a regular plate). Top each serving with the olives or roasted red peppers.


Check out the other posts in my Series: Kid-Friendly Fare with Adult-Friendly Flare:


Find out about past Cook the Story series and about what’s coming up soon.



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  1. #1 by Geni - Sweet and Crumby on April 7, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    I have never considered using portobellas as a raft. How ingenious! You quinoa looks amazing. I am so hungry right now and this is not helping. As for the grocery store mushroom bandit. When my son was three, he used to push his own cart through the store and head straight for the bananas, peel himself one and go at it as he pushed with one hand. I would put the empty peel on the check out conveyer belt and without fail, the checker would give me a puzzled look. My son hates bananas. He is 16. I keep telling him that he used to LOVE them. He doesn’t buy into it.

    • #2 by cookthestory on April 7, 2011 - 3:15 pm

      Thanks! Portobellos make a nice little bottom for all kinds of toppings.

      I wonder if you banana story means that my son is more or less likely to hate mushrooms as an adult. So hard to figure out their likes and dislikes. At least they keep us amused and on our toes.

  2. #3 by Rufus' Food and Spirit Guide on April 7, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    These look great. Love portabellas and seldom use them for a full meal. They’re always a side, or in something.

    • #4 by cookthestory on April 7, 2011 - 5:17 pm

      Because quinoa is such a great source of protein, you can use these as the center of a meal. Or, they can be a great side dish to liven up something simple like a basic chicken breast with salad. Thanks for visiting!

  3. #5 by phyllis pittman on April 7, 2011 - 6:04 pm

    Portobella mushrooms are a favorite of ours in Florida. That is the only kind I buy while wintering here. We use them in pretty much everything as well as main course meat substitutes because they are so meaty. Back home, they are double to triple the cost so we use them more sparingly. Very nice quinoa recipe.

    • #6 by cookthestory on April 7, 2011 - 6:16 pm

      Thanks Mom! I was pretty sure you’d like this one :). See you tomorrow.

  4. #7 by Katerina on April 8, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    I love mushrooms and you stuffed them with super healthy ingredients!

    • #8 by cookthestory on April 8, 2011 - 2:14 pm

      Thanks Katerina! They are healthy. Hearty and tasty too!

  5. #9 by sandra axelrod on April 11, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    Children are so funny. My son (38 years old today) loved fish as a toddler. We spent our summers at the Jersey Shore and caught flounder regularly. When he started school the other kids told him they thought fish was yucky and he never liked it again. Great meeting you in Orlando this weekend at the Food Blog Forum!

    • #10 by cookthestory on April 11, 2011 - 5:42 pm

      He still doesn’t like fish? My brother is similar. He used to love McDonald’s Filet of Fish (of all things!). Now he won’t go near “anything that swims” (his words). Thanks for visiting. It was great meeting you too!

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