Baby bella or baby portobella mushrooms, also sold as crimini mushrooms, look much like the typical white mushrooms, but have a richer, heartier flavor and texture. These mushrooms work well in vegetarian dishes or pair especially nicely with beef and game, or you can use them just as you would a white mushroom with a more flavorful result.
Cleaning and Preparation
Baby bellas are often a bit grubby when you open the package. Wipe away dirt with a paper towel or soft cloth. You can rinse mushrooms to remove dirt, but you'll need to allow them to dry thoroughly before you cook them if you do. Store mushrooms in the refrigerator, ideally in a paper bag. They may keep as much as seven to nine days.
One of the easiest preparations is also the best. Simply saute your baby bellas in butter, olive oil or a mixture of the two to serve with steak, pasta or other dishes. Heat a generous amount of fat over high heat until it's shimmering. Add the mushrooms, but avoid adding onions, garlic, salt or other seasonings at this point. Leave the pan alone to allow the mushrooms to sear. Flip or toss the mushrooms after 1 to 2 minutes, then allow to cook on the other side. Add salt, pepper, and finely minced garlic or shallots if desired and cook one more minute. Serve immediately.
Baby bellas stand up nicely to stuffing as an appetizer for parties or even a side dish for a special dinner. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the stems from the mushrooms. Saute the stems, then add garlic. Stir the mushroom stems together with cream cheese, parmesan cheese and your favorite spices, then fill the mushroom caps with this thick mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and serve.
While many restaurants serve full sized portabella mushrooms as a sandwich, you can use baby bellas to make healthy and delicious sliders, perfect for a party. Marinate the baby bellas in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and your favorite flavorings for several hours. Grill for three minutes on each side, then top with cheese and place on a mini-bun or slider roll. Add fresh greens, tomatoes and other classic burger toppings.