Baked Portabella Parmesan “Pizza”
Yield: 24 servings
24 large portabella mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups tomato marinara sauce
24 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups (1½ lbs.) shredded part-skim
1½ cups ( 6 oz.) grated Parmesan
Method: For each serving, brush both
sides of mushroom cap with oil. Season
with salt and pepper. Place mushroom,
gill side down, in baking dish. Broil
4 minutes; remove. Turn gill side up; broil
4 minutes. Spread 2 T. marinara sauce
in small baking dish; place mushroom on
top, gill side up. Sprinkle with 1 t. basil,
some red pepper flakes and 2 T. sauce.
Top with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese and
1 T. Parmesan. Bake at 400°F until
cheese begins to brown.
Mushroom Council and mushroominfo.com
Tavern 17 at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick
Hotel in Philadelphia. He grills olive-oil
covered pizza bread (flat lavash) and layers
on prosciutto, fig slices and Gorgonzola,
flash bakes in the oven for 4-5 minutes,
then tosses arugula in lemon pepper oil
and salt and places on top at the end. The
flavor balance of sweet, salty, earthy and
peppery “is like a little explosion,” he says.
He’s also seen, in Chicago-deep-dish fashion,
a restaurant fill a soup bowl with cheese and
tomato sauce, place the dough on top, bake it
and turn the bowl over, allowing the ingredients
to turn out in the right order on the plate.
In addition to sometimes using focaccia bread
as a crust, Martin with BJ’s restaurants has
used tortillas. In that case, he suggests going
light on the sauce to avoid sogginess. He has
also seen cornmeal-like pie dough used for
French bread cut at an angle and lightly
toasted makes a phenomenal appetizer
pizza, he adds. It’s oval-shaped and allows
for a dollop of a chef’s favorite sauce,
cheese, such as Brie, then sausage or
salami and a finish of sun-dried tomatoes.
Recipe is courtesy of the Mushroom
Council and mushroominfo.com.
thin slice of lardo, which almost bakes
away, leaving the delicious flavor and
an aspic-like coating. “The interesting
ingredients make people jump to them
versus a basic pepperoni, sausage or
mushroom pizza,” he says.
• Another unique pizza Young enjoys
combines Merlot jelly and Brie cheese
finished with arugula. Sycamore Lane Merlot
is reduced in a pan with cinnamon, allspice
and sugar, cooked, and spread on top of
flatbread pizza or lavash, and topped with
Brie before it goes into the oven. They melt
together, and, post-baking, arugula is added.
For a polenta “crust,” Corrieri suggests
cooking thick polenta enriched with eggs
and cheese to bind it a bit. Lay it out flat on
a sheet pan with parchment paper, allow it to
sweat, cool it down and place it in the walk-in refrigerator for an hour. Then, cut shapes
with a cookie cutter or a knife. For service,
place it in the oven or fryer to warm and crisp
it up, and top it with any topping. Corrieri
has made it with caramelized Vidalia onions
along with a little thyme and garlic salt.
• Pizza salad is another appetizer
possibility, Corrieri suggests. Using a
traditional 6- or 8-inch pizza dough circle
made from a cutter rather than pressing,
he suggests brushing on olive oil and salt,
and baking at 550°F or 600°F to get it to
puff up into a hollow ball. Then, cool it, and
crack the side and fill with a small salad.
While there are plenty of ideas using
traditional pizza crust, some chefs find
that appetizers lend themselves to a little
creative crust license.
Corrieri believes pizza appetizers provide
a great opportunity to work with seasonal
ingredients. “They will be cheaper ingredients,
and you can get good press for being local
and seasonal,” he says.
• Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and fig pizza
with arugula is a favorite appetizer pizza
of Benjamin Young, executive chef at
Whole-wheat, rye or a combination of
flour types works, as do flatbreads of
various shapes and sizes. But Goldberg of
Welldone Restaurant Concepts has also
seen inverted portabella mushrooms, gills
removed, used as a “crust” and stuffed
with tomato sauce, cheese and other pizza
ingredients and baked off in the oven.
Jody Shee, an Olathe, Kan.-based freelance
writer and editor, previously was editor of a
foodservice magazine. She has 20 years of
food-writing experience and writes the blog