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Portobello mushrooms are a great way for meat lovers to get in touch with their vegetarian side. They are tender yet robustly flavored. Large flat caps make them perfect for grilling and broiling. The longer you grill portobellos the firmer their texture.

Choose ones that are heavy for their size with dry, firm caps and stems. Reject any mushroom that is damp, looks shriveled, or has dark spots. Like any other mushroom, cooked ones can be frozen.

You can serve them whole. You can serve slices. You can stuff them… One of my favorites is this tasty sandwich. Don't pass on the Parmigiano-Reggiano Spread. It really brings all the ingredients together.

Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

1 large yellow pepper
2 large portobello mushroom caps, brushed clean, stems removed
extra virgin olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar
2 ounces mixed field salad
2 4" squares of focaccia, sliced in half
8 whole basil leaves
Parmigiano-Reggiano Spread (recipe follows)

1) Broil, or grill, pepper until the skin blackens and blisters. Place the pepper in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit about 10 minutes while the steam loosens the skin. Remove the skin and seeds. Cut the pepper in half.

2) Brush the mushrooms with olive oil and grill over high heat. Turn as necessary, grilling until tender. Sprinkle with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

3) Place a small handful of greens on the bottom half of each piece of focaccia. Top with a mushroom and a half of a roasted pepper. Add 4 basil leaves to each sandwich. On the top slice of focaccia schmear a generous dollop of Parmigiano-Reggiano Spread and press the sandwich together.
Serves 2

This spread is a nice variation for any sandwich that you would normally schmear with mayonnaise.
Parmigiano-Reggiano Spread

13.75 ounce can of water-packed artichoke hearts
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Drain artichoke hearts and chop into small pieces. In a small bowl stir together artichokes, mayonnaise and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Makes 3 cups

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