I went to a birthday luncheon last weekend at Maggiano's Little Italy. The first course included pesto-stuffed mushrooms, and after one bite, everyone started speculating about how to make them.
Fortunately, the recipe was easy to replicate. I bought a jar of basil pesto, spooned some into a bowl and added chopped parsley (for fresh flavor) and fresh breadcrumbs. I used medium mushrooms, just the right size for one or two bites, and topped each with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.
You can assemble these a few hours before you bake them. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
(And don't discard those leftover mushroom stems. You can use them in stir-fries, soups or this moist and lean Bison Meatloaf.)
Yield: About 18
1 slice bread
12 ounces medium button mushrooms (about 18)
6 tablespoons purchased or homemade pesto
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
About 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with nonstick foil or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut the crust off the bread and discard. Whirl the bread in a blender to make crumbs. Measure 6 tablespoons crumbs; discard the remainder, if any, or save for another use.
Wash the mushrooms and pat dry. Carefully remove the stems and set aside for another use. Arrange the mushroom caps in a baking dish.
In a medium bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, pesto and parsley. Fill each mushroom cap with the pesto mixture, mounding it slightly. Sprinkle each cap with about 1/4 teaspoon Parmesan. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes.