Portobellos for kids?

29 Mar

Generally, it has been my experience that kids don’t love mushrooms. There are exceptions for sure, but generally, this is what I have found. This season though, I’ve been honestly surprised by the effect of the portobello (portabella). At the market last week, we let the students pick the menu, and it was delicious. Locally made artisan pasta shells with broccoli rabe and spinach (it was quite sweet rather than bitter because of the cold), locally bred and humanely treated sausage, carrots and portobellos! These wonderful mushrooms made their way onto the menu simply because one student had never had one before, and was curious. So we sliced them up, and cooked them up with the greens and an onion. We looked everywhere for garlic, but every farmer told us it is too early in the season – it isn’t ready to harvest yet. All of it came out perfectly. We sat around our feast with smiles and ate, all the while talking about the food, and our experience, and our surprise. Buying food, connecting with the people who grow it and bring it to our city, working with a budget, and preparing a meal to eat with good people – is REALLY fun.

What we did with the mushrooms:

Ingredients: 1 lb of pasta, 3 portobello mushrooms, 1 bunch of broccoli raab, 2 big bunches of spinach, 1 onion.

Directions: Put your salted water (as salty as the sea) to boil, add the pasta and a dollop of olive oil to the pot to keep your pasta from sticking. Follow the package instructions to make your pasta al dente. Chop your portobellos into 1/4 inch slices, dice your onion, and chop your greens also into 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Put your veggies into a hot pan with olive or sunflower seed oil* – this will end up being your sauce (*sunflower seed handles high heat well), and top with sea salt. Sauté until your greens have wilted and your mushrooms are soft – about 5 minutes.

When your pasta is ready, drain the water and add to your vegetables. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*We also cooked up our pork sausage with leeks, thyme and half an onion in a pan with sunflower oil until browned on every side. It was a great accompaniment.

On our lunch menu this winter, we began offering portobello burgers as a vegetarian alternative to turkey and beef burger day. We did not have high expectations at all, but students and teachers alike, love them on and off the bun!

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