I’ve been enjoying my (sort of) new air fryer, but I haven’t been getting as creative with it as other people in my Facebook group have. I’ve done potatoes in fancy ways but mostly plain French fries and hash browns, tempeh bacon, asparagus, and, most successfully, tofu. After weeks of just “winging it,” I decided to take a look at the recipe book that came with my AF (as I abbreviate it) and noticed a non-vegetarian recipe for portobello mushroom pizzas that looked easy to veganize.
The only thing that concerned me was the cheese. It would have been fairly easy to make any one of my vegan cheese sauces to drizzle over the portabella pizza, but doing so would have added steps and additional time to the recipe. Then I remembered how much I enjoyed the broiled portobello served with red pepper hummus at my favorite restaurant–and that I had some kalamata hummus in the fridge. That settled it. Instead of cheese, my portobello pizzas would be enhanced with hummus.
I know that most people don’t have air fryers, so I’ve included the instructions for cooking them in the oven. Truth be told, it’s probably easier to make them in the oven because you can fit them all in at once and there’s no need to move them around. Air frying is a little faster, though, so if you want to just make one or two quickly, it’s perfect.
Lots of people on Facebook have been asking about the air fryer, and I want to address some of their questions:
Do I need an air fryer?
No, unless you live in a mobile home or dorm room or somewhere where you can’t have an oven, you probably don’t need an air fryer. It does have some advantages over an oven or toaster oven, such as cooking more quickly and producing less heat, but it’s not a necessity for most people. I’ve found it to be a great convenience to be able to cook potatoes in a hurry when I’m short on time, and it does such a great job on tofu that I will probably never bake or pan-fry it again. But I recognize it is a luxury that not everyone needs or can afford.
Can you really cook in an air fryer without oil?
This is the question I get the most because air fryer manufacturers always include some oil in their recommendations and recipes. The answer is yes–you can cook without oil. You run a slightly higher risk of having food stick and your results will not be exactly as crispy or “fried” tasting, but that goes for any type of cooking without oil. If you’re used to oil-free food, you will probably enjoy the taste of air-fried food. Just don’t expect miracles.
Which air fryer should I buy?
There are dozens of models available now, so read the reviews on Amazon and get the biggest one you can afford (or that your counter space will allow). I got a good deal on my little Phillips Viva, but I wish I’d bought a bigger one, even though I’m usually just cooking for two. I like the steel mesh basket on the Phillips, so if I had it to do over again, I would probably get the bigger model, even though it is one of the most expensive AF’s on the market. Then again, I would love to have the Breville Smart Oven Air, but I already have the regular Smart Oven and can’t justify the expense.
Making portobello mushroom pizzas gave me the perfect opportunity to play with a gadget I’d just bought, a rack used to double the capacity of my small air fryer. It was a big help because some of my portobellos were so big that I could fit only one of them into the basket at a time, if not for the new rack. I took the precaution of switching the mushrooms’ places halfway through cooking, so that each got some time closer to the heating element. If you use a rack in your AF, I recommend moving the food around if you can.
Portobello Mushroom Pizzas with Hummus
These personal "pizzas" make a great appetizer or snack. Be sure to serve them with plenty of napkins because they can get messy!
- 4 large portobello mushrooms
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and black pepper
- 4 tablespoons oil-free pasta sauce (such as 365 Organic)
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 3 ounces zucchini , shredded, chopped, or julienned (about 1/2 medium)
- 2 tablespoons sweet red pepper , diced
- 4 olives kalamata olives , sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 cups hummus (see notes for Kalamata version)
- fresh basil leaves or other herbs , minced
Wash the portobellos well. Cut off the stems and remove the gills with a spoon. Pat the insides dry and brush or spray both sides with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper.
Spread 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce inside each mushroom and sprinkle it with garlic.
Air Fryer Instructions
Preheat the Air Fryer to 330F. Place as many mushrooms as will fit in a single layer or use a rack to hold two layers. (You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size or your air fryer and portobellos.) Air Fry for 3 minutes.
Remove mushrooms and top each one with equal portions of zucchini, peppers, and olives and sprinkle with dried basil and salt and pepper. Return to the Air Fryer for 3 minutes. Check mushrooms and rearrange if using a rack. Return to the Air Fryer for another 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Place on a plate, drizzle with hummus and sprinkle with basil or other herbs. If you want, you can put the portobellos back into the air fryer briefly to warm the hummus.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the sauced portobellos in a baking dish and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top each one with equal portions of zucchini, peppers, and olives and sprinkle with dried basil and salt and pepper. Return to the oven and cook until mushrooms are tender, abut 15 minutes. Place on a plate, drizzle with hummus and sprinkle with basil or other herbs. If you want, you can put the portobellos back under the broiler briefly to warm the hummus.
Kalamata Hummus is easy to make and makes a delicious topping for these personal pizzas. Simply make a batch of Hummus in the Blender, remove half of it to use as usual, and add 8-10 kalamata olives to the hummus remaining in the blender. Blend well.
Nutritional data below assumes the use of 365 Organic Fat Free Marinara Pasta Sauce and Hummus in the Blender.
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I hope you enjoy! Please let me know if you have more questions about the air fryer.