Monday, July 11, 2011

Veggie Week: Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburgers on Pretzel Rolls & Stoplight Salad

As is inevitable, the menu for this week got switched around a little bit. Last night I made sesame-peanut noodles with broccoli, which while delicious, wasn't anything exceptional. I used a jarred sauce, okay? I admit it. I did doctor it to make it more delicious, but I can't act like I now know how to make a peanut sauce. So, moving right along, we find ourselves here at the Portobello burgers that I promised you yesterday.

Portobellos have long been the omnivore's cookout concession to their vegetarian friends, which has earned them kind of a bad rap. They're looked at by the meat-eating population as a bland, bloodless (literally) farce of a burger. This is pretty unfortunate. I won't even get into the question of whether they're "just as good" as a beef burger, because that's a fight nobody is winning, but I will say that they are certainly delicious. The texture is a bit softer than I was expecting, but the yummy nutty flavor made up for it. Mine were grown in Chester, Pennsylvania, which is a big plus to good sense and a big minus on fuel use. I based my 'bellos off of this recipe:

Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Portobello mushroom cap - 1 per serving
Goat cheese (I used garlic & herb), slightly softened
Pretzel roll, or other fresh deli roll
Veggies for topping, like lettuce and/or tomato, & condiments

1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to form a vinaigrette. Pour this mixture into a shallow bowl or container, and place both mushroom caps inside.
2. Allow mushrooms to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, flipping once. (For the sheer fun of it, when they were upside down I filled in the little crevices in the underside with the balsamic mixture. As a flavor-boosting technique, It was pretty effective).
3. Heat grill or grill pan on medium heat, and grill the mushroom caps for about 5 minutes per side, or until tender.
4. Once cooked, spread the mushroom caps with goat cheese, pop them in a bun, and top with whatever you like. (We had ours with some baby spinach on top.)

Brady is admittedly not the hugest fan of mushrooms, but I think he wants to like them, so when I ran this idea by him he was on board, and ultimately did enjoy them. This is one of the things that I really love about him: Whether in food or politics or anything else, he is interested in new ideas and experiences. I know so many guys that would think Veggie Week was an incredibly dumb idea and not even pretend to play along. This is why I am not dating any of those guys.

As for the salad... I am a huge fan of zucchini, and at this time of year, I'm coming up with every reason I can think of to eat them. Stoplight salad is a super simple, tasty way: Slice up some zucchini, yellow summer squash, and red bell pepper, and toss with a little olive oil and vinegar, or a vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing. (Also, I just came up with the name "Stoplight Salad" today - is it working, or is it too Rachel Ray? Sometimes I need to be saved from myself.)  

Portobellos make a pretty satisfying meal, I would say, though I was pretty surprised to find that they only contain about 3 grams of protein. I think it is only surprising because they've been compared to burgers for so long that I assumed the protein count was a little closer to being comparable. Nope! Still, I ate a Greek yogurt earlier today that had a whopping 14 grams of protein in it, so don't think that veggie week is going to kill me or anything.

Brady tells me that the texture of these portobellos, when grilled, is very similar to eggplant, something I have avoided like poison since an unsavory experience with it in my childhood. I guess an eggplant recipe or two is in our future.

Quote of the Day: Love is like a poisonous mushroom: You don't know if it's the real thing until it's too late. ~ Unknown

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