Turkey Day without the Turkey

DISH: Portobello Mushrooms with Parmesan-Herb Stuffing
TYPE: Vegetarian Thanksgiving (Meatless Monday)
MAIN INGREDIENT: Mushroom, Bread, Cheese, Herbs

For obvious reasons, Thanksgiving can easily be thought of as a problematic holiday for vegetarians. In the center of most families’ tables, inevitably, sits a large dead bird. In it, the second mainstay of the meal: stuffing. Beside it, pan drippings reduced into velvety gravy that’s meant to drown all other meatless options on the table.

I’ve never dabbled in vegetarianism, but when I think of my dad’s Thanksgiving plate, and of Cara’s before she came back over to the dark side of carnivorism, I don’t feel that bad for them. The holiday may be nicknamed “turkey day,” but as far as I’m concerned, the turkey is the one dish I wouldn’t mind doing without. On my plate, its main purpose is to be a vehicle for all the other, much more delicious dishes.

When Cara and I discussed the idea of developing a vegetarian main course for Thankgiving, we knew it would have to occupy the center of the plate in its own right. My mind landed on the portobello mushroom, which is often substantial enough to replace beef in between a burger bun, and “meaty” enough to be a main course main event all on its own. Since many turkey day cooks actually stuff their stuffing inside the bird (we’ve always made ours separate), this vegetarian main would have to be stuffed as well.

The resulting portobello mushroom caps were so delicious, I would be happy to welcome them on my plate in place of the old bird. The Parmesan-herb stuffing becomes crispy on top, while staying moist in the middle, and the mushrooms release their own gravy-esque juices when you cut into them. If you want to create actual gravy to go with, try your favorite recipe using mushroom stock or broth instead of pan drippings.

Either way, these stuffed mushrooms are a great excuse to gobble down your Thanksgiving dinner, without having to eat something that once said gobble gobble to you. And, if your kitchen is small and your oven unfriendly to something so massive as a turkey, you might think about going vegetarian in any case. It’s easier if you’re hosting for the first time, and more budget friendly.

From my kitchen, ditching the turkey on Turkey Day, to yours,


>Portobello Mushrooms with Parmesan-Herb Stuffing
Makes 2 servings

2 large portobello mushroom caps
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon fresh thyme (1/4 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups cubed crusty bread
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Arrange the portobello caps on a work surface. Remove the stems, and brush broth sides of each cap with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake the mushrooms (belly-side up) on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes, until browned and tender.

In the meantime, warm the butter in a small Dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the thyme, and cook for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and simmer for another few minutes, until the alcohol burns off. Set aside to cool.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3 minutes, until crusty but not browned. Add the bread to the cooled onion mixture along with the parsley, egg, Parmesan, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and toss to combine.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven. Divide the stuffing between the two caps, pressing down to create a compact mound. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F, and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is crusty and brown.

Sprinkle with additional parmesan and parsley and serve.

  • http://twitter.com/semiveggie Jessie

    Wow, I just have to comment on this one: the recipe sounds delicious, and the photos are beautiful! Seriously – what kind of camera do you use? Nice job! :)

  • http://otm-inthegalley.blogspot.com/ SeattleDee

    Who needs Thanksgiving to enjoy this treat?! I’m tempted to add a bit of chopped water chestnuts, or maybe fennel for some crunch… or maybe a few toasted pecans or pine nuts… Your recipe is calling me to an afternoon of experimentation and taste tests, oh yum!

  • http://twitter.com/CookUnderwriter Mrs. Mix It

    Those look yummy. I like turkey but I would add that to my plate anytime.

  • http://www.theliterarygothamite.com/ Lauren

    I made a hors d’œuvres version of this with some large buttom mushrooms (because I’m vegetarian, but my family is not–I go to my uncle’s for Thanksgiving and while he tries to cater to me, he doesn’t understand that mac and cheese is not a solution for turkey and stuffing!) . It had mostly the same ingredients, but smaller amounts obviously, and instead of onion, there were goat cheese crumbles that I mixed with the other ingredients and then baked inside the mushrooms (without sautéing first). They were SCRUMPTIOUS. Similarly, I took my dad’s Italian family recipe for meatballs and made a vegetarian version with Gimme Lean Ground Beef Veggie Protein as a replacement for the beef, and I stuffed those with goat cheese crumbles as well. Even my carnivorous relatives ate them up!

  • Vanessa

    I made a similar recipe to this in the past – only I roasted tomatoes in a Parmesan stuffing. I like your tip about using portobello mushrooms… it should be filling and yummy!

    – Vanessa
    The Project Zen

  • Thepinkfork

    yum…this sounds perfect for any winter get together!


  • Alison Rohrer

    This looks soooo yummy BUT I have a problem. I’m allergic to mushrooms (and a vegetarian)! Any other veggies you think would sub well instead of a portobello?

    • Frankie

      Allison, maybe scoop the seeds out of a half an acorn squash and then roast with the stuffing inside?

  • Munir

    Vege Thanksgiving sounds wonderful. Now I just have to convince my family.

  • PaulyP

    Bellas have been a Thanksgiving staple in my kitchen for years…I love making the side dishes ( the bird is the easiest part to me) I must try this soon…looks so good!!

  • TravisH

    This recipe looks fantastically delicious and very presentable, well done! Would you say that one of these per person would be filling enough for the average person, with say a side salad and garlic bread?

  • duhduhduhdoh!

    did it! yummy! and have to say I made 3 large for the price of two, they seems huge and large round domes of toasty stuffing really stuck together well, not sure what I did right/ different….. except maybe waiting a long time after making the stuffing mixture as I got everything else ready ( did a roast butternut squash side and butter lettuce salad)

Buy Now - In The Small Kitchen