The summer after I graduated college, I kept to a tight budget on weeknights. I’d come home from work and grab one or more of the following: cheddar Goldfish crackers from that gigantic milk carton-looking box; Trader Joes’ three buck chuck; and caprese salads. I’d drizzle the fresh tomatoes and smooth mozzarella in balsamic vinegar and settle in for a summer-long marathon of all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls start to finish (Luke and Lorelai forever). It was certainly not the most nutritious diet, but my metabolism and patience at 22 were different than at 29 (unfortunately and happily, respectively).
Caprese flavors are delicious anytime of year, but they really evoke summer feelings and memories for me. I upped the ante on a caprese meal recently by adding pesto and piling it all on top of portobello mushrooms.
Oh also, the cheese is melted. Melted cheese on anything is a win in my book.
I preheated the oven to 350° and whipped up some pesto with leftover herbs and cheese. I found feta, parsley, and chives lurking in the fridge, added two cloves of fresh garlic and olive oil, and zapped it in the mini processor.
After I took out the stems and gills, I roasted the plain mushroom caps for about 10 minutes gill-(less)side down. When I flipped them, I smeared on some of the pesto, then topped with fresh beefsteak tomato and a slice of mozz. As a general note, tomato seeds and the gelatinous nonsense inside gross me out, so I get rid of them.
I baked them for maybe 8 - 10 minutes, just enough to melt the cheese. While they cooked, I seasoned some shrimp with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and quickly cooked them in olive oil.
I let them cool a bit while the mushrooms finished and tossed them with the rest of the pesto to serve.
I absolutely loved the blend of the juicy tomatoes, the melty cheese, the bold punch of flavor from the pesto, and the earthy, rich mushrooms. This could even work sans-shrimp as a great Meatless Monday option if you made more or used larger mushrooms. For my fellow carnivores, I'd certainly pair this side dish with poultry, beef, fish, and could also be done on the grill!