Save time, stuff a mushroom

I've seen Shirley Conran, author of Superwoman, quoted as saying "Life is too short to stuff a mushroom." Although I agree that time is precious, I love a stuffed mushroom as much as the next person, which is why I love these easy, quick and incredibly delicious Tomato & Olive Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps (recipe below).

Whether mushrooms are served as a side dish or the main event, their meaty texture is very satisfying. Plus they contain nutrients like potassium, copper, niacin and selenium, so they're good for you too. In fact EatingWell recently reported on research that found that inexpensive, white button mushrooms have as much antioxidant power as other (sometimes pricier, more exotic) mushrooms.

The variety of fresh mushrooms available in supermarkets is on the upswing. Here are a few recipes using common varieties of mushrooms available in most large supermarkets.

1. Shiitake mushrooms have a meaty texture and flavor and are brown with umbrella-shaped caps. Try them in Garlic-Rosemary Mushrooms, a quick, weeknight side dish of simple sautéed mushrooms. Leftovers are delicious with Swiss cheese in an omelet.

2. Exotic-looking, but relatively easy to cultivate, oyster mushrooms have a pleasant, mild flavor and soft texture. Try them in any recipe that calls for a mix of mushroom varieties.

3. Cremini mushrooms look similar to white buttons except for their brown cap, but have a deeper flavor. They work well in a brandied sauce of mixed mushrooms that tops seared strip steak in EatingWell's healthy version of the classic dish Steak Diane.

4. White button mushrooms are the most popular and have a fairly mild taste that goes well with almost anything. Use them in a healthier version of the classic favorite Chicken Piccata with Pasta & Mushrooms.

5. Portobello caps make excellent mini casseroles. In these Tomato & Olive Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps, they hold a tomato, cheese and olive stuffing that grills up to a smoky perfection. Serve them with whole-wheat couscous and a mixed green salad for an easy meal.

Tomato & Olive Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps

2/3 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 portobello mushroom caps, 5 inches wide
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1. Combine tomatoes, cheese, olives, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, rosemary and pepper in a small bowl.
2. Preheat grill to medium.
3. Discard mushroom stems. Remove brown gills from the undersides of the caps using a spoon; discard gills. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, lemon juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over both sides of the caps.
4. Oil a grill rack (see Tip, below). Place the caps on the rack, stem sides down, cover and grill until soft, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and fill with the tomato mixture. Return to the grill, cover, and cook until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more.

Makes 4 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 122 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 339 mg sodium.; 431 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (25% daily value), Potassium (17% dv), Calcium (15% dv).

TIP: To oil a grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.

By Carolyn Malcoun

When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.

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