Monday, October 10, 2011

Saucy Portobello Pitas

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 14, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Taste of Home – April/May 2011.

There’s nothing I love more than a greasy gyro.  When I lived downtown (Chicago that is), I would walk past this beef joint on my way to and from the EL that had the most delicious gyros ever.  I would have them at least a couple of times a week.  (Don’t judge)  Of course, they aren’t the most healthy things to eat and the older I’ve gotten, the less they agree with me.

I found this recipe and my eyes lit up with excitement.  It was combining my love of mushrooms, gyros and eating healthier in a single dish.  It even included a recipe for Tzatziki sauce.  I couldn’t wait to try it.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
The mushrooms look divine and the “fixins” look scrumptious, but the pita looks kind of weak and thin.  For me, it destroys the look of the dish, but it did smell fantastic.

© Taste of Home
My mushrooms and other components look better, but their pita looks better and their dish just photographed prettier.  I was a little disappointed.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – there was hardly any equipment used, but the peeling and chopping of the vegetables and herbs and lemon peel grating bumped up the mess quite a bit.

Start-to-Finish Time: WELL UNDER AN HOUR – You can also do the prep and make the sauce prior to finishing the mushrooms, so if you’re looking for a quick after work meal, it should only take you about 30 minutes.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – you’re supposed to mince the mint, but I finely chopped it.  Even with that, there’s a lot of chopping and finely chopping herbs can be tricky.  Also, grating the lemon peel is always a hazard for me.  I usually end up grating at least one of my fingers.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – It is very similar to cooking hamburgers but even easier because there isn’t a lot of fat or popping grease.

OverallYUMMY – The meal itself wasn’t one of my favorites, but I did enjoy the mushrooms and sauce.  Of course, my husband ate it without complaint, but he hasn’t requested it since.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

The dish is meant to make 4 pitas (8 halves), so you have plenty.  Also, there is plenty of sauce to go around.  That is usually something you run out of quickly.  A serving is two filled pita halves with a 1/3 cups of sauce, so there’s plenty of food.  If you’re serving it with a Greek salad (or French fries/potato chips) you’ll have plenty to serve at least six people.

My timing was just about the same, but I had to cook the mushrooms in two batches, so that extended things a little.  However, if I did them all at once, I would have probably come in right on time or even a little sooner.  Here is how my timing came out:
  • Prep Time: 14 minutes
  • Sauce Complete: 6 minutes
  • Mushrooms Cooked and Pitas Assembled: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 303
  • Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 1g)
  • Cholesterol 3mg
  • Sodium 411mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 45g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Protein 11g
It seems almost too good to be true… there is a substantial amount of food for only 300 calories, very little fat and manageable sodium.  Still, I was a little skeptical.  So just to be sure, I plugged the recipe into Spark Database and here is what I came up with:
  • Calories 294.3
  • Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 1.3g)
  • Cholesterol 3.7mg
  • Sodium 371.7mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 43.6g
  • Fiber 2.8g
  • Sugars 5.3g
  • Protein 10.3g
I was pleasantly surprised that I came out with almost the exact same thing.  I did attempt to alter the recipe to make it “healthier” (and because I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for in the store).  I used olive oil and wheat pitas for health reasons and I used Mediterranean seasoning since I couldn’t find “Greek Seasoning”.  I ran the numbers again and got:
  • Calories 299
  • Total Fat 9.7g (Saturated Fat 1.8g)
  • Cholesterol 3.7mg
  • Sodium 407mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 46g
  • Fiber 6.7g
  • Sugars 5.4g
  • Protein 11.1g
I’m sure my changes didn’t make that much difference since I had to use a little more oil when cooking separate batches.  Still, the recipe is a great supplier of the following:
  • Manganese – needed for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation
  • Selenium – Needed for normal growth and health. Selenium is needed for certain enzymes that help with normal body functions.
Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
1 cup (8 ounces) reduced-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 wheat pita pocket halves, warmed
8 thin slices red onion, separated into rings
8 slices tomato
Fit Wash

Ingredient Notes:
Cucumber – to get a ½ cup, you will need approximately ½ of a large cucumber

Mint – this is a fairly large amount and I knew that if I bought the fresh mint, it would not go to waste.  Since this is in a sauce, you probably could get away with using dried mint, but only a small amount.

Lemon Peel and Lemon Juice – you’ll need about half of a medium lemon to get these amounts

Greek Seasoning – I used a Mediterranean Greek Herb seasoning from McCormick’s.

Olive Oil – The calories in olive oil are slightly higher in fat and calories, but it is the healthy fat that assists in lowering cholesterol.  The extra tablespoon of oil (the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons) is needed because I had to cook my mushrooms in two batches.

Wheat Pitas – the wheat pitas don’t lower the calories or fat at all, but it does give you an extra kick of fiber and protein.  I waited to warm them until the mushrooms were completed.

Red Onion – Try to find a small onion or you’ll find your pitas have way too much in them.

Tomato – As with the red onion, try to find a small onion or there won’t be enough room in the pita for the mushroom.  Try to slice it as thin as possible.

Fit Wash – Even though I peeled my cucumber, I still washed it first.  Since cucumbers tend to be a little waxy, I found my fit wash really helps get rid of that buildup.  Also, since I was using the lemon peel, I wanted it to be cleaned as well.  Don’t use it on the mushrooms though.  Just rinse/wipe to get the excess dirt off of them.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
Vegetable peeler
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Small bowl
Spoon – mixing
Plastic wrap
Large skillet
Flexible spatula

Equipment Notes:
Plastic wrap – I used this to cover the pita sauce after I was finished.

Flexible spatula – I love my flexible spatula.  It is great for cooking chicken, fish and delicate pastries because it doesn’t have a rigid edge to break up the food if it doesn’t flip easily.  That makes it perfect for cooking the mushrooms.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
(1)  In a small bowl, combine the cucumber sauce ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

(2)  Sprinkle mushrooms with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and Greek seasoning.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
Mushrooms cooking
(3)  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook mushrooms in oil for 3-5 minutes on each side or until tender.  Keep warm.

I had to cook the mushrooms into two batches and I added an extra one tablespoon of oil in between batches.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Saucy Portobello Pitas
Finished mushrooms - top and stem side

(4)  Cut pita breads in half; line each with a slice of onion and tomato.

(5)  Cut mushrooms in half; place in pitas. Serve with cucumber sauce.

So the dish was good, but not a substitute for the traditional lamb gyro.  True, the recipe doesn’t call itself vegetarian gyros, but the recipe writer said, “Portobello mushrooms replace spicy ground lamb in this healthier version of the gyro,” so that is clearly what they were going for.  The sauce was close to gyro sauce (pretty good) though even if the mushrooms were a little strongly spiced.  The pitas I bought didn’t do anything for me.

So if I was going to make it again, I definitely would make some changes:
  • I’d look for better pitas.  I’d still try to go for wheat, but maybe pick some with bigger substance.
  • I’d cut up everything into smaller pieces to fit in the pita.  It just seemed like it was stuffed and the pita couldn’t hold up well enough for me to eat it like a sandwich.
  • Instead of sprinkling the mushrooms with seasoning, I might take the time to marinade them in oil and spices for a short period of time.

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