Hey Vegetarians! Que ‘Bello Burger

portobello mushroom burger with basil and mozzarellaI am not in a chatty mood. 

But we have burgers to talk about. The trouble with blithely bouncing burger banter about is that I then have to belly up to my bluster!

Which is an (overly) cute way to say. I promised a week of burgers and I shall deliver. Now I didn’t say what kind of “burgers”, did I?

Because the truth is as big a carnivore as I am (and I am), I could not face red-meat two days in a row.

Besides what if my burger obsession causes me to lose the veg-heads out there. My guess is that a buffalo burger does not rate super high on their thrill meters.

Sup! needs every reader he can get. So court the veg-heads I must. To do this I am pulling out the big guns. I am bringing out the meatiest veg I know. The portobello mushroom.

roasted mushroom capI am doing a Portobello Mushroom Burger with Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers and Basil.

Even those with real blood lust will find this to be a completely satisfying burger. Because this burger has all the bells and whistles.

There are all the star ingredients I already mentioned: Meaty portobellos. Creamy melted mozzarella. Smokey sweet bell peppers. And fresh green basil.

But the supporting cast is well worth mentioning and they include: Briny kalamata olives. Big, bright vine ripened tomatoes. Super fruity Tuscan olive oil. And a zingy hit of acid from red wine vinegar.

But I am not done. Because I am going to squeeze all these luscious ingredients into freshly baked, artisan Kaiser rolls. It may be messy. portobello mushroom burgerBut what a glorious mess it will be.

Serves 4

4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps left whole
2 tablespoons, plus more for buns of very good olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
20–30 whole basil leaves
8 strips of roasted red bell pepper (from a jar is fine)
2 very good tomatoes (2 center section 1/2 inch slices is all you will need, save the rest of the tomatoes for another use.
20–30 kalamata olives
4 very good Kaiser rolls cut in half

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet, or appropriately sized ovenproof plate with foil. Toss mushrooms with oil, water red wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the mushrooms stem side down; cover loosely with more foil. Roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

portobello mushroom cap burger with basilMeanwhile brush the cut side of all the Kaiser roll halves with a little olive oil. Then set them oiled side down onto a grill pan, until lightly toasted.

When the mushrooms are ready remove the top layer of foil and turn each cap over so that the ribs are facing up. Carefully drain off any of the accumulated liquid. Fill each cap with some of the grated cheese. Set the caps under a broiler until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Lay the toasted rolls out on a large surface or serving tray. Cover the tops of each roll with 5–6 whole basil leaves. Top the basil with a mushroom cap. The push 5 or 6 kalamata olives into the melted-cheese. The cheese should act like glue keeping them from rolling off the “burger”.

On the other side of the roll layer the red bell pepper and tomato. Invert the top onto the bottom of the burger.

This is a messy burger so I advise cutting it in half to make it easier to handle.


Greg Henry