The Meal Planner


I had never tried a portabella mushroom before, but I absolutely ADORE mushrooms. Mushrooms are actually one food that my husband despises...he is not a picky eater, but he just can't handle the texture of them. He always thinks they smell good while they are cooking and always gives them a try just to see if he likes them this time, but his mouth just can't get past their squishy texture.

I on the other hand despise peppers. I always have. I too think they smell good, and always cook with them because I like the flavor they impart to some dishes, but I just can't eat them. I've tried but...no go. My husband and peppers are practically married. It's a good deal really; he picks out his mushrooms and puts them on my plate so I get extra, and I pick out my peppers and put them on his plate.

Win-Win.

I discovered this recipe from the Olive Garden website. They looked too good to pass up, so I stuffed some peppers so my husband could avoid the squishy, gagging mushrooms that he so hates.

*Recipe adapted from Olive Garden
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Serves 4



4 Portabella mushrooms with stems & gills removed (or 2 red peppers sliced in half lengthwise and deseeded, or 2 mushrooms and 2 peppers)
1 lb Italian sausage
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs

SAUCE
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (2 tsp dry)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Clean tops of the mushrooms with a damp towel and place stem side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, crumbling and breaking up as you saute. When cooked through, drain on paper towel and let cool. Combine the cooled meat with basil, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic and parmesan cheese. Divide the mixture with your hands into 4 and stuff inside portabella mushrooms and/or red peppers, placing the stuffed veggie into a baking dish. Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes until nice and golden brown.

To make the sauce, heat the cream over medium high heat. Let it boil lightly (don't let it scorch) until it has thickened and has reduced to about a cup. (Don't be impatient with this process...it will take awhile. I was totally impatient and had a really soupy sauce at first. Don't be like me.) When it has reduced, add pepper, basil and parmesan cheese.

Serve the stuffed mushrooms and/or peppers with the herb cream sauce spooned over top with a salad on the side.

Click here for printable version of Italian-Sausage Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms & Peppers with Herb Cream Sauce
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THE RESULTS?
Not bad. I did actually think that I would be blown away by this recipe...it sounds SOOO good. But I wasn't blown away. I think the problem was that it was too salty. The original recipe calls for added salt in the sauce, as well as grinding garlic croutons into bread crumbs for the filling. But it's really unnecessary (which is why I've edited it). The filling already has so much flavor that plain ol' bread crumbs would be perfect. And as for the sauce, I should have realized that Parmesan cheese is already salty and tasted my sauce before adding the salt like the original recipe said. So yeah...salt in the sauce, also unnecessary.

But all in all it was still a great meal. It felt really fancy and was a nice change from the ordinary. My husband ate the stuffed peppers while I enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms. He did however, have a bite of my mushroom just to try it. His comment was "Oh weird...mushroom." He's had years of hating mushrooms under his belt, so while he didn't like it, he did say that the flavors of the sausage stuffing and the cream sauce seemed to go well with the mushroom. It's kind of a compliment...I guess.

My thoughts on the stuffed pepper? Didn't try it.

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