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Home Cooking: The best meatless burger you’ve ever had

Tara Baroody
Guest Home Cooking columnist
Portobello mushrooms topped with grilled, pickled onions
Courtesy photo

My vegetarian burger has to stay together, be grillable and firm, and need few, if any, condiments to make it taste good. Most important, it must be made from real food, not born in a laboratory. This is my choice for the “meatest” plant-based burger I know. It’s simple and inexpensive. I live in an apartment, so my grilling is inside on a cast iron skillet in a high oven. It’s well seasoned and definitely one of my favorite pans when trying to get rich flavor out of the vegetables. It would work with a panini machine too. I would suggest roasting the sides of vegetables in the oven, though.  

This recipe will work for two to four burgers depending on whether you are slicing the mushrooms after grilling or using them whole. If you have a good ciabatta bread or sliced pane, that is the best way to get grill marks on the outside of the bread.  

The burgers are partnered with grilled onions, sweet potato fries and a side of bok choy. I found mini-heads, so I grilled those in lieu of a salad. They were amazing brushed with the white miso and extra-virgin olive oil, and the dash of white balsamic vinegar just brought them to a new level.   

Portobello mushrooms topped with grilled, pickled onions

Marinade

  • 1/8 cup Braggs amino acids or tamari 
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2–3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar spice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • A little water

Directions

Lay the mushrooms in covered baking dish, blend the marinade ingredients above and cover the mushrooms. Cover and leave in refrigerator overnight. (It can stay there for a couple of days or a couple of hours if you’re pinched for time.) Shake it up a few times to make sure you get it well-coated.

Heat grill or cast iron grill skillet in the oven at 420. Cook mushrooms a good 10 minutes on each side, maybe more. 

Pickled red onions

  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin in half-moons
  • Braggs amino acids
  • Raw apple cider vinegar

Directions

Put onions in a 32-ounce Mason jar. Cover with the amino acids and vinegar, and let it sit on the counter until wilted, usually a day. Add marinated onions to the hot skillet. Keep any leftover onions in the refrigerator for future uses. I use them for everything that needs a little zing.

After the mushrooms and onions are done, put in the bread and grill on both sides. Compress it a little to get it formed up. You can add Swiss or provolone cheese if you wish before grilling.

Sweet and spicy fries
Courtesy photo

Sweet and spicy fries

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut steak size
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Smoked paprika 
  • Salt
  • Chipotle powder

Directions

Drizzle the olive oil on your cut potatoes and toss. Then add smoked paprika, chipotle powder and salt. Bake on a sheet in the 420-degree oven or vegetable grill basket. Cook until crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, 15-20 minutes. Turn at least once during cooking. 

Grilled bok choy
Courtesy photo

Grilled bok choy 

  • 3-5 small heads of bok choy
  • 2 teaspoons of mild white miso
  • Olive oil 
  • Splash of soy sauce/tamari 

Directions

Mix the ingredients and brush them generously all over the bok choy. Put on a grill or in the oven on a grill pan. Turn over after it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add a dash of white balsamic vinegar after cooking.


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