The good thing about cooking a new recipe is that it makes eating, fun again. This recipe for Vegetarian Mushroom Shawarma Pitas did just that for me. I am glad that I decided to be a bit adventurous and try something new. Join me on this adventure!
The star of this recipe is the thick-cut portobello mushroom. According to Alexa Weibel, the author of this NYT recipe, the portobellos are inspired by shawarma. Shawarma, in case you don't know, is Middle Eastern spiced lamb. The portobello mushrooms are a good substitute because they are "surprisingly meaty." The bold flavors of the spices in the recipe, which include cumin, coriander and paprika, make the portobellos shine. The tumeric and yogurt sauce are like icing on a cake, to these Vegetarian Mushroom Shawarma Pitas.
I decided to substitute roasted red peppers for the red cabbage in the original recipe. A large red cabbage was just too big and heavy to schlep home during my recovery from carpal tunnel surgery. I also packed my pita with some baby spinach to balance out the color palette with some green. The baby spinach was first in and created a nice solid base for the other ingredients. I just sliced my pita in half to make two pockets. Alternatively you may prepare yours as an open faced sandwich to be eaten with a knife and fork.
Additionally, I picked up a piece of non-GMO corn at my food coop, cooked it, and sliced the kernels off the cob to add to my Vegetarian Mushroom Sharma Pitas. An easy way to do this is to stand the cob up in a bowl, so the bowl catches the cut kernels. Adding corn was my own personal ode to Spring, since corn is starting to be in season (OK, so maybe in California - still a bit early for the East Coast - but the Summer Solstice is June 21st people). The point is that you can be creative with your sandwich and make it your own creation. Just don't leave out the portobellos roasted with red onion wedges. They are the major notes in this concerto of a sandwich.
Now for a little advice. If you are not sure how to clean and prepare your portobellos, do the following: break off and discard the stem; scrape out the gills with a spoon; and rub any dirt off the top of the cap with a damp paper towel. Don't wash your mushrooms. Use a mushroom brush instead of a damp paper towel if that is more your style. Avoid mushrooms with gills that are not dry, as those mushrooms are beyond their prime.
Don't forget to top your sandwich with some chopped cilantro or mint (as I so clearly did, as you may see in my photos). Do try this recipe for Vegetarian Mushroom Sharma Pitas, and Enjoy!
Vegetarian Mushroom Shawarma Pitas
- 3/4 lb portobello mushroom caps, sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/3 inch wedges
- 3 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground sweet or smoked paprika (optional)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 pitas (I used whole grain pitas)
- 2 cups very thinly sliced red cabbage (about 6 ounces)
- 3/4 cup low-fat or whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 3/4 tsp ground tumeric
- cilantro or milk for serving
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a large rimmed sheet pan, drizzle the mushrooms and red onion with 3 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander, paprika (if using), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer and roast until tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Add the pitas directly to the oven rack to warm during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, toss cabbage with remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and turmeric; season with salt and pepper.
To serve, slather yogurt over warm pitas. Top with cabbage, mushroom mixture and herbs, and serve immediately. (I went freestyle here and slathered the yogurt on top, which made for a messier sandwich).