Monday, January 9, 2012

Grilled Portabella Burgers

A Meatless Monday meal with iPhone photos

Preparing a meatless meal is no great feat, not even a big deal... unless you focus on it... worry it to pieces... let it make you crazy. There are so many easy choices, but today they all seemed too ordinary. Cheese pizza? Tomato/red pepper soup and grilled cheese sandwich? Stir fry rice bowl? Nope, tasty but too routine and lunch-like. What should I make? It seemed important that our first official meatless Monday celebrate big flavors and not leave us feeling the tiniest bit deprived. 

A quick wander down the produce aisle took care of my menu problems. Fresh, plump portabella mushrooms and Mayan sweet onions hit the basket first. Then a giant bouquet of kale and a smaller corsage of basil joined the party. Grown-on-the-vine tomatoes were next, followed by a box of Clementines. I knew the fridge still held various Basque cheeses, tasty chunks and wedges left from holiday cheese plates. Homemade burger buns lurked in the freezer and, thanks to our mild winter, a few herbs still looked good in the garden. I was in business. 

Lunch featured burgers of grilled portabella mushrooms that had been brushed with a fresh herb vinaigrette. The 'shrooms were piled on top of caramelized sweet onions and slices of fontina cheese, all that goodness layered on grilled sourdough buns. Add some lettuce, tomato, a bit of coleslaw with that same vinaigrette, a splash of HP sauce, and Oh, my! that was one awesome burger. We didn't miss the meat at all. Clementines and more coleslaw finished off a very satisfying lunch.

I built two pasta sauces for dinner, one a red sauce and the other a white cheese sauce.  Cavatappi, wilted kale, Basque idiazabel (sheep's milk cheese) and piles of basil shreds were featured in both dishes. Tangy vinaigrette-dressed greens with citrus and pine nuts completed the meal. We enjoyed the pasta entrees, and once again didn't notice the lack of meat, but we're still talking about those amazing 'Bella Burgers.

Brushed with an Italian herb vinaigrette, portabella mushroom slices sizzle on the grill
Onion slices, caramelized to a golden brown, add a sweet note to the burger
Note: iPhoneography - I didn't even know the term last month and now I could be an enthusiast.  CreativeLive's on-line workshop on January 5-6 was terrific, both informative and encouraging, and gave me a much-needed push to play with the iPhone's camera feature. Now I 'm committed to using the smartphone as a camera more often, and posting some photos weekly (at least). CameraPlus is my new favorite phone app, with more cool features than I can handle right now, but I'm working on it. So many projects, so little time? 

Portabella Burger Notes

Vinaigrette: to brush on mushrooms and to use on coleslaw
olive oil and rice vinegar in a 3:1 ratio
a dab of Dijon or grainy mustard
mixed herbs, dried or minced fresh (I mixed dried Italian herbs with fresh basil, parsley, thyme 
salt and pepper to taste
sugar as needed (optional)

Also needed: 2+ portabella mushrooms, a sweet onion, soft cheese like fontina, cabbage slaw, tomato, lettuce, buns and your favorite condiments and spreads

  1. Preheat a ridged grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop. 
  2. Coat the cleaned, thick-slices from 2 large mushrooms with some vinaigrette and let marinate for 10-20 minutes. Use the remaining vinaigrette to dress some cabbage slaw.
  3. Heat a scant tablespoon each of olive oil, butter and vinaigrette over low-medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Cook the thin slices from 1 large sweet onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, being careful not to burn or crisp the onion. Set aside.
  4. Toast the cut sides of the burger buns on the ridged grill pan. Set aside.
  5. Grill the  marinated mushroom slices for 3-4 minutes per side; move around to get pretty grill markings.
  6. Build your burger using your choice of spreads, cheeses, vegetables, etc.
  7. We recommend layering: mustard, mayonnaise &/or HP steak sauce on a toasted bun half fontina, provolone or jack cheese caramelized onions grilled mushrooms tomato slices lettuce leaf coleslaw and the other half of the bun
    *Yes, I might consider adding strips of crispy bacon if it weren't Meatless Monday. 

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