Wednesday, November 4, 2015

25. Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Fresh Tomato Slices, Cilantro Pesto, and Toasted Asiago Cheese


Well, this is number 25 - the recipe to finish the first quarter of my taco project!  It's been an interesting three months so far.  In some ways, this is a lot easier than I thought it would be.  In other ways, it's quite a bit harder.  When I'm done, I'll have enough material to write a book (or maybe even a trilogy) about recipe creation.  For now . . . I'll just heave a big sigh.  Whew!  :)

This is a Monday night recipe that's actually doable on a Monday night.  It's nice to have a few of those in your cooking repertoire, right?

For this recipe, I did get out one piece of special equipment - my stovetop smoker:

If you don't have one, don't worry - you can still make this!  You can roast the mushrooms in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes (and maybe add a shake or two of liquid smoke with the oil).

As I've said before (in my smoked tuna recipe), I would highly recommend getting a stovetop smoker!  We have the Cameron brand and we love it!  It's awesome!  It's not just for meat.  I was a vegetarian for about 8 years and I was always amazed at how completely this smoker could transform the flavor of a simple onion or an ear of corn.  Give it a try - it's worth the price!  Here's a link to buy it from Amazon:

It's very easy to use, too.  Trust me - it's a great product!  :)

Anyway, I'm not sure how I came up with this recipe.  I like mushrooms.  I like pesto.  (Especially if it involves cilantro.)  EVERYONE likes cheese!  And you could cook an old shoe in that smoker and still make it taste good.  Really!

I think this is one of those "Necessity is the mother of invention . . . " kinds of situations.  I needed a taco recipe, so it just kind of . . . happened.  My husband counts this as one of my top five so far, though.  That's something!  Here's the recipe:

Smoked Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Fresh Tomato Slices, Cilantro Pesto, and Toasted Asiago Cheese

Makes about 6 tacos, or 2 to 3 servings


For the smoked mushrooms:

2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the cilantro pesto:

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. grated Asiago cheese
a pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

A few ounces (4 to 5) of Asiago cheese, grated

2 roma tomatoes, sliced and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper

6 to 12 corn tortillas (depending on whether you plan to double them up)


1.  Cook the mushrooms:  Brush the mushrooms with the oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Cook in a stovetop smoker over low heat for about 18 minutes (start counting when the smoker starts smoking) or until tender.

(Alternately, you can roast the mushrooms in a 375 degree oven for about 18 minutes or until tender.)  Allow to cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, cut the mushrooms into strips.

Cover to keep warm and set aside.

2.  Make the pesto:  Place the pine nuts, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

With the motor running, drizzle in the oil and process until fairly smooth.  Add the grated Asiago cheese, red pepper, salt, and black pepper and pulse until combined.  Transfer to a small bowl.

3.  Prepare the tortillas:  Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Heat each tortilla in the skillet for about 30 to 60 seconds or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.

As each tortilla is done, I usually stack them on a sheet of foil so I can keep them warm in the oven, but these will be heated again in the broiler.  You can just stack them on a plate if you wish.

4.  When the tortillas are done, assemble the tacos:  Turn the oven broiler on high and place a rack on the highest setting.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  For each taco, place one or two tortillas on the pan.  (If your tortillas are thin, as mine were, you should double them up.)  Place a few tomato slices on each tortilla.  Top with a generous smear of the pesto.  Add a few sliced mushrooms.  Sprinkle a healthy amount of grated cheese over all.

5.  Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook until the cheese is melted and toasty.  Watch carefully as it can go from melty to burned very quickly.  Remove from the oven and garnish with another small drizzle of the pesto.  Enjoy!  :)

As I said before, my husband counts these in my top five so far.  I don't know if I would do the same, but they were VERY good!

This is a great two-person recipe.  We started with two tacos each, but I ended up making two more, so we each had three.  They were tasty and satisfying, but not overly heavy.  There was a little bit of pesto left, but nothing else.  That was kind of nice.  During a busy week, leftovers can often become a problem to be solved instead of a bonus.  (I'm not counting the leftover pesto - that's always welcome!  Spread it on a sandwich!  Thin it with some cream and toss in some pasta!)  :)

I can't really think of any significant negatives with this recipe.  The vegetables (mushrooms and tomatoes) did release some juices, so I guess you could say that it was . . . drippy?  I didn't think this was a big issue.  Just don't set the taco down in the juices and you'll be all right.

If you prefer the tomatoes to be completely fresh instead of heated/roasted in the oven, you could put them on the taco after the cheese is toasted.  It's up to you.  :)

If you're not a cilantro lover, you could easily substitute parsley, basil, or arugula and still have some amazing tacos!

Well, I'm off to California until Saturday night for a jazz festival!  I will finish another post while I'm gone (for the tacos I made tonight), but I won't be able to make anything else until Sunday!  I'm thinking breakfast or brunch tacos might be in order once again!

Onward and upward!  If this were a marathon, I'd be about six-and-a-half miles in.  O.O.  Wow.

Well, it's kind of the same thing.  (It's better to think about how far you've come, not how far you still have to go.)  Ha ha.

Well, what do you think?  I'd love to hear some feedback!  Thanks for reading!  :)

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