Trying to work more vegetables into your diet, or eat vegan or vegetarian? This post includes a portobello mushroom recipe that’s even meaty enough for carnivores! Quick and easy to get on the plate, this one is loaded with flavor, and great for a Meatless Monday. Or any other day of the week, really.
The deets on portobello mushrooms
While typically lopped into the vegetable category, mushrooms of any kind are fungi. Portobello included, mushrooms contain ample protein content and are a great source of vitamin B-12. The darker the mushroom, the more intense the flavor. If you want more earthy, umami flavor in your life – and who doesn’t – reach for a dried or dark mushroom like portobellos.
How to store + prep portobello mushrooms
How to store mushrooms
Since mushrooms keep metabolizing (growing) after picking, store them in the refrigerator wrapped in dry paper towels to absorb any moisture they give off. I like to space them out on a small sheet pan so they don’t suffocate each other. Try and cook mushrooms within of few days of bringing them home.
Remove the stem + the gills
When eating smaller mushrooms like button, we eat the whole bit. However with larger varieties like portobello, you want to remove the woody stem.
Portobellos also have “gills” underneath the cap, they almost look like a dark brown accordian. Scrape these away with the edge of a small spoon using gentle force. A circular motion that follows the perimeter of the mushroom works best. Don’t forget the ones hiding under the rim of the cap!
To wash or not to wash?
For some chefs and home cooks, washing mushrooms is sacrilege because it supposedly makes them soggy and dilutes their flavor. Since mushrooms are 80-90% water in the first place, they actually can’t absorb much more.
A great task for kids
To avoid the extremes of a full soaking or not cleaning at all, I usually give mushrooms a quick wipe with a damp paper towel. Or the kiddos do it.
Just few quick thoughts on quinoa
Quinoa is truly a blank canvas. Quick to cook and versatile, we eat quinoa in a variety of ways and no one here complains of burnout. This ancient grain can be a great rice replacement, sprinkled into a salad, stuffed into peppers, or as below sandwiched between two mushroom caps for a cute little vegan burger.
Adding dried fruit and toasted nuts to the quinoa brings an occasional pop of sweet. I love the way the the fruit complements the earthiness of the mushrooms.
Cooking quinoa with dried fruit
If you’re not a fan of sweet flavors in your savory dishes, leave them out. If you do use the apricots and cranberries (or other dried fruit), be sure to cut them all about the same size. Perfection is not necessary.
Vegetable stock or bone broth bring a savory depth to the dish, but water works just fine and half the time it’s what I do. A nice middle ground is to use half-and-half water and stock. Toasted nuts give a nice crunch among all the tender ingredients.
‘Burger’ = Portobello+quinoa+cheese+portobello
To build the “burgers”, after roasting them I flip over half the portobello caps and spoon a good helping of quinoa in the middle. If you have one, an ice cream scoop can help mold the grains together. Otherwise, just use your hands to press them together.
Lay a slice of cheese on top of each, and broil them in the oven until it melts. Technically you can microwave this step, but I don’t like nuking our food. Not edible times.
For vegan, leave the cheese out or go for a dairy-free cheese. I love the VioLife Foods Just Like Cheddar slices for our son who can’t eat a lot of dairy. It melts GREAT (above), and compared to other vegan brands, doesn’t have a lot of funny stuff in it.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware this concoction can’t be eaten as a traditional burger. But if you’re going to ditch the meat, you can’t beat oozing cheese, a sweet burst of tart fruit and umami coming at you from both ends.
Yours in ‘shrooms,
A fun way to ditch the meat for a meal! Loaded with plant protein and umami flavor, this portobello mushroom recipe is a great gateway vegan recipe for meat lovers.
I may call it a burger, but I recommend keeping a fork and knife handy for this one!
For Roasted Portobello Mushrooms
- 8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped off
- Olive or avoado oil
- Sprinkling of kosher salt
- 1–1/2 cups of quinoa
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 5 dried apricots, cut small as the cranberries
- 3 cups vegetable stock or bone broth (or water)
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (less if using table salt)
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted if you like
- Sliced cheese
- Small lettuce leaves, butter lettuce or a mild mixed green recommended
Cook quinoa + roast portobello mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Using a small spoon, gently scrape away the gills (the dark, accordion-like membrane) of the mushrooms.
- Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in a large pan until mushrooms give away most of their moisture. It takes about 20 minutes, flip once during roasting.
- In a large pot, combine quinoa, dried fruit, broth/stock and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, simmering 15 minutes stirring occasionally until quinoa is tender and liquid is completely absorbed. If water is gone before quinoa is tender, simply add a little more until it’s fully cooked.
- Optional: In a small pan, lightly toast almonds over medium heat until fragrant and just turned in color. Set aside.
- Gently stir almonds into quinoa and season with black pepper.
Build your burgers
I like to use an ice scream scoop to pack the quinoa together before sandwiching between two portobello caps. Melting a slice of cheese over the quinoa before topping it would not be out of line!
An easy way to do this would be to line up half the roasted caps on the sheet pan, spoon on the cooked quinoa and lay a slice of cheese on top. Broil briefly to melt the cheese, then top each with lettuce and one of the remaining caps.
If you’d like the dried fruit to have more of a texture, do not add them to the pot with the quinoa. Instead, heat the 1/4 cup of water to a boil, then pour it over the fruit and let them steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour off the water and then mix the fruit into the quinoa with the almonds.