Vegan stuffed portobello mushrooms featuring mashed chickpeas seasoned with sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds make a no-fuss and elegant dinner for two.
Hey, there’s hummus in my mushroom!
Who loves hummus? We do. Who loves mushrooms? We do. Every put them together? Not me, until I did. The result? Fantastic!
I can’t say enough about this effortless combination of chickpeas mashed with tahini and lemon juice. The seasonings are a bit reminiscent of the Za’atar blend I use for tomato and pomegranate salad or Middle Eastern chickpeas and quinoa. In fact, if you have Za’atar in the cupboard, you can use a tablespoon of that.
Fairly or unfairly, the comparison to Za’atar mainly has to do with sumac. Until I started exploring Middle Eastern cuisine, I’d hardly heard of the stuff. But after I had my first Fattoush salad, I started intentionally finding ways to incorporate it.
What is sumac?
From the dark-red color to it's super lemony and zesty flavor, sumac is a distinctive spice. So unique, in fact, that it’s not even a spice. It actually comes from the berries of the sumac (sumach flower), a proud member of the cashew family.
It’s ubiquitous in Middle Eastern foods in everything from salads to main dishes – it even stars in a medicinal pink lemonade. I’ve even been known to add a pinch of sumac to replace lemon zest, although I wouldn't suggest it for lemon juice. However, if you want an excuse to 'pucker up,' sumac is a handy tool to have at the ready.
There are several kinds of sumac: winged sumac, Sicilian sumac, fragrant or lemon sumac, littleleaf sumac, staghorn sumac, skunkbush, or sourberry sumac but the most common, the one you’ll find in the store, is the smooth or scarlet sumac. And nope, it isn’t toxic. Poisonous sumac is from an entirely different plant, a tree, with white berries. It goes without saying that you won’t find that in the spice section. At best, it’s probably a storyline from an ID television series.
What can I substitute for sumac?
The closest substitution for sumac is lemon zest. In a pinch, you can use lemon pepper seasoning. My recommendation is that you use only 1 teaspoon of lemon zest if you replace the 2 teaspoons of sumac required for the filling.
You’ll invest about 10 minutes making the filling for your portobellos. For 2 mushrooms, use one 15-ounce can of chickpeas. Mash half the chickpeas with a fork, then add lemon juice and tahini. Pause to blend it all together, then add sumac, dried thyme, and sesame seeds.
I reserved the other half of the chickpeas to roast on top along with a teaspoon of sesame seeds. This gives you a few different textures. Besides, any excuse to roast chickpeas will do for me.
The mushrooms are super-quick to prep. Like, 5 minutes quick. Wipe them off with a damp paper towel if they are not already clean. You definitely want to remove the stems, and if you use a spoon to clean out the gills, it creates a crater that’s prime for our pho-hummus mixture.
Don’t overfill the mushrooms so you can make room to pile on the chickpeas. I found that if you press them lightly into the filling, they will hold on throughout the cooking process.
Handle the mushrooms with a bit of care. They can easily split apart. And it’s not uncommon for them to have a crack or two on the sides. Don’t aim for the perfection of the presentation, although you want to avoid the mushrooms completely falling apart. It's the perfection of the bite we're after.
To be honest, I’d stopped doing the marinade and bake kind of portobellos. I always ended up with shriveled up mushrooms. When I balanced this result with the price of the mushrooms and the amount we’d need to consume to be satisfied, I just couldn’t justify it.
My opinion of baking portobellos was upended after I stuffed them. First of all, the mushrooms maintained their plumpness, and they were sturdy enough not to break apart into mush. You end up with a beautiful dish that requires a knife for cutting.
The flavor of these portobellos needs nothing more. Just serve them up with a few sides, and you have a special meal that doesn’t without a significant time commitment.
What to serve with stuffed portobello mushrooms
We pared this elegant main dish with a simple side salad and quinoa with dried apricots, almonds, and mint. Here are a few other ideas:
Lemon tahini dressing – you can make a simple side salad with mixed veggies or just cucumber and pomegranate and slather this yummy dressing on top. This is also something to serve with steamed or roasted veggies.
Everything green salad (because everything goes with this beauty)
Don’t be fooled about serving up one mushroom on a plate and calling it dinner. You are eating half a tin of chickpeas. That's one reason I can safely predict you’ll be fully satisfied after the last bite.
If you aren’t interested in making a mushroom main, or you can't find portobello mushrooms, consider stuffing smaller, button mushrooms. Bake them up, and you have a healthy appetizer in your hands. That idea is already swirling in my brain, another prediction – a new recipe will the forthcoming. Peace.Print
Vegan stuffed portobello mushrooms featuring mashed chickpeas seasoned with sumac, thyme and sesame seeds make a no-fuss and elegant dinner for two.
- 2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed, and gills cleaned
- 1 1 /2 cups of chickpeas (15 oz. or 400 gm. can), drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. tahini
- 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 2 tsp. sumac
- 2 tsp. of dried thyme
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sesame seeds (use 1 tsp. for the filling, and 1 tsp. to sprinkle on top)
- Preheat the oven to 4250 F. (2200 C.) and place the rack in the middle.
- Wipe the portobellos with a damp paper towel if they need to be cleaned. Remove the stems and scoop out the gills to create a 'stuffing space.'
- In a small bowl, mash half (3/4 cup) of the chickpeas with a fork or a potato masher.
- Mix in the lemon juice and tahini and stir until it smooths out a bit.
- Add the garlic, sumac, thyme, salt, and 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
- Stuff each mushroom with the chickpea mixture, then add the remain chickpeas on top and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.
- Place the mushrooms in a shallow baking dish or on a baking tray.
- Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until the mushrooms are just tender when pierced with a fork.
- You can substitute 2 teaspoons of Za'atar spice blend for the sumac, sesame seeds, and thyme if desired. If you do not have sumac, use 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest.
- One mushroom is very filling, so plan to double (or triple) per person. Don’t underestimate the satisfaction.
- You can use this idea for making stuffed mushroom appetizers using button mushrooms.
- If you want a sauce to go with your sides or mushrooms, lemon tahini dressing is a natural fit for the flavors.
- Want to make your own tahini? Get the recipe here.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: plant-based
Keywords: vegan stuffed portobello mushrooms