Quinoa Stuffed ‘Pizza’ Mushrooms
Quinoa makes a great stuffing for all sorts of veggies – especially when it’s paired with tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella!
Makes: 6 • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: 15 mins
Quinoa Stuffed ‘Pizza’ Mushrooms
Quinoa makes a great stuffing for all sorts of things. You can use it to fill peppers, squash, or whatever else you think needs stuffing – even meat, if you’re so inclined. This time, I went for an old favourite: quinoa stuffed mushrooms. You can stuff just about anything in a mushroom and it will taste good, but quinoa works particularly well.
Of course, I wasn’t happy to just leave this recipe at ‘quinoa stuffed mushrooms’. No, I went one step further up the deliciousness scale, and made pizza quinoa stuffed mushrooms. Because there’s not a single (savoury!) recipe that’s not improved with the word ‘pizza’ and a crispy, cheesy topping.
Piled high with a tomato-ey quinoa mixture and topped with melty cheese, these stuffed mushrooms have all the flavours of my favourite pizza, with none of the guilt. Unless you eat all six, in which case guilt would be an appropriate response.
Even better, these quinoa stuffed mushrooms take about 25 minutes from start to finish. Stick an episode of your favourite show on while you’re cooking, and your dinner will be ready in no time (I’d recommend Arrested Development, but anything will do.).
These stuffed mushrooms have all the flavours of my favourite pizza, with none of the guilt!
Here’s what to do
Start by roasting the portobellos for about 15 minutes. This helps them to soften up, and since mushrooms release some of their liquid when they’re cooked, it gives you a chance to drain this liquid away before you add your stuffing.
While the mushies are roasting, you can get on with preparing the quinoa stuffing (no time wasted here!). The stuffing is really simple: mix the cooked quinoa with some tomato sauce and a bit of salt and pepper. Choose your favourite tomato sauce for this one – this entire recipe only uses a few ingredients, so it’s worth using really good quality ones. Then, add my secret ingredient: a good dollop of basil pesto. Mozzarella, tomato and basil go perfectly together (they’re famously used together in my favourite salad ever, the classic Italian caprese salad), so skipping the basil flavour would make it feel like something was missing.
Of course, fresh basil will work just fine too, but I prefer to use basil pesto instead. Pesto adds great flavour, and a jar will keep in the fridge for a lot longer than fresh basil, which sometimes goes limp and soggy after just a couple of days. I always have a jar of pesto to hand (for those days when pasta with pesto is all I can muster for dinner), so it’s easy for me to add a spoonful to any Italian-style meal without needing to make a special trip to the shops. Not needing to leave the house to cook a recipe (i.e. being able to make it in my pyjamas) is a major selling point for me, so I tend to plump for the pesto over fresh basil. But go ahead and use the fresh stuff if you prefer. Just chop up a small bunch and mix it through the tomato-ey quinoa.
Next comes the cheese topping. My go-to combination is cheddar and mozzarella – the mozzarella goes nice and stringy and gives that authentic Italian feel, and the cheddar gives a bit more of a cheesy flavour. I’m British: we add cheddar to pretty much everything. You can use whatever combination of cheeses you like, but something that melts nicely is best.
Pop your quinoa stuffed mushrooms under the grill for a minute or two to melt the cheese, and your dinner is sorted! For a light dinner, just serve them with a green salad (maybe some olives too, in keeping with the Italian theme); or, if you want something a bit more substantial, a slice (or six) of garlic bread goes beautifully on the side.
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Other ways to use quinoa as a stuffing
The quinoa mixture I used for my pizza stuffed mushrooms was obviously quite moist, with the tomato sauce and pesto mixed through. But if you want a more traditional kind of stuffing, like you might have served with a Sunday roast or Christmas dinner, this can be done with quinoa, too.
Instead of adding the tomato sauce, try mixing some breadcrumbs and fresh herbs through your cooked quinoa instead. You can also add cooked lentils, grated cheese, cooked veg – whatever combinations you fancy. Sage and onion is a classic stuffing combination, but I’m quite partial to some cheddar cheese (…told you about the cheddar) and some fresh parsley.
Use an egg or two to bind everything together, then press the mixture into a baking dish, and pop it in the oven. The result will be a slightly crumbly mixture that makes a great vegetarian alternative to a traditional stuffing, and is just as satisfying as one made with sausage meat.
Okay, so this particular stuffing wouldn’t actually be stuffed inside anything – but we can let that slide, right?
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
Remove the stalks from the portobellos, and discard or set aside for another recipe. Place them upside down in a baking dish, and rub lightly with oil. Roast for around 15 minutes, until fairly soft.
While the mushrooms are roasting, cook the quinoa in a pan of boiling water, until it is soft and the spiral-shaped germ has detached. Drain the quinoa and add the tomato sauce and basil pesto. Mix well and season to taste.
The adding of the cheese
When the mushrooms are cooked, drain away any excess liquid. Divide the quinoa mixture into the six mushrooms, pressing it down gently and smoothing off the top. Top each mushroom with a little of each of the two cheeses, and place under a moderate grill (broiler) for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm with a green salad or garlic bread.
The final masterpiece
- 100g (~1/2 cup) quinoa
- 6 portobello mushrooms
- 150ml (~2/3 cup) tomato sauce
- 2 tsp basil pesto
- 4 tbsp grated mozarella cheese
- 4 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
- Black pepper
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Who’s Cooking Today
Becca Pusey is a freelance recipe developer and food writer based in Hertfordshire, UK. She blogs over at Amuse Your Bouche, where she shares her favourite simple vegetarian recipes using everyday ingredients. She aims to show that vegetarian food can be just as easy to make, just as satisfying, and just as tasty as any meat dish. Oh, and she likes cheese, a lot.
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