Photos by Lindsey Johnson
After three and a half years, it’s about time Oh My Veggies published a grilled portabella mushroom burger, right? It’s kind of up there with tofu when it comes to vegetarian icon status. If for any reason tofu cannot fulfill its reign as vegetarian icon, first runner-up grilled portabella mushroom burger will take over. Portabella burgers are the Alyssa Edwards to tofu’s Coco Montrese, you see.
If you want a no-muss, no-fuss portabella burger, all you really have to do is clean a mushroom with a damp paper towel, brush it with oil, season with salt and pepper, and throw it on the grill. Once it’s tender, put it on a toasted bun and pile on your favorite burger toppings. It’s pretty much fool-proof, which is probably the reason we vegetarians eat them all the time.
Plain portabella burgers are good, but there’s so much more you can do with them to take them up a notch. When I saw this Napa Valley Cabernet Burgers recipe from Bon Appétit, I knew I could translate that idea to a grilled portabella burger. It was simple to do—the original called for more cabernet sauce because it was mixed into the ground beef; I made less because I was only using my sauce as a marinade. The original recipe also called for 9 tablespoons of butter, which I reduced to 1, replacing the rest with a light brushing of olive or grapeseed oil.
Mushrooms and wine are one of my favorite food pairings. There’s just something about wine that really brings out the flavor in mushrooms. I don’t even drink wine (well, maybe once or twice a year), but cooking with it is a different story. You don’t need to buy an expensive bottle of wine either. Avoid cooking wines, which are usually found in the aisle with vinegars and oils, and opt for the cheapest bottle of regular wine you can find. Yeah, that’s right, I’m telling you to buy cheap wine!
The cabernet boils down into a thick sauce that you brush on the mushrooms as they cook. The sauce continues to thicken and caramelize on the grill, which makes it even more delicious. Grilled rosemary focaccia serves as a bun for these portabella burgers; we topped them with slices of sharp cheddar, heirloom tomato slices, and arugula, but a variety of cheeses and toppings will work with these burgers. With grilling season upon us, this is a recipe you’ll want to have on hand for the coming months!
A red wine reduction helps bring out the savory flavor of grilled portabella mushrooms. Adapted from Bon Appétit's Napa Valley Cabernet Burgers.
- 2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Light olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 4 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
- 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 (4 1/2-inch) squares focaccia, cut horizontally in half or hamburger buns
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 8 large heirloom tomato slices
- 2 cups arugula
- Combine the wine and shallots in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Whisk in the butter and sugar; remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat an indoor grill to high heat. Brush the grates with oil, then place the mushrooms on the grill gill-side down. Brush the tops of the mushrooms with the cabernet sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip the mushrooms over. Brush the gill-side with additional sauce and cook for 5 minutes more. Flip the mushrooms one more time and brush the tops with the rest of the sauce. Once the mushrooms are easily pierced with a fork (the time depends on the thickness of the mushrooms, but most will be done after 15 minutes on the grill), top them each with a slice of cheese and transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
- Brush the cut sides of the bread with oil and sprinkle with rosemary. Place the bread, cut-side down, onto the grill and cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Top the bottom halves of the bread with the mushrooms, tomatoes, and arugula. Cover with the top halves of the bread.
If you don't have an indoor grill, a grill pan or an outdoor grill will work instead, but cooking times will vary.