Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Burgers

I was at work when I got the email from my friend Sarah. She was coming down to my neck of the woods during the week and wanted to know if I wanted to get together for lunch. Did I?! Does she know me at all?! Aside from going out for breakfast and going out for dinner, getting together for lunch ranks up right about…here on my list of favorite things to do; I just tend to not be able to do it that much because the magic beans that I bought and planted and are supposed to turn into a money tree don’t seem to want to sprout. Until they do, I will continue to savor the special occasions that lunches out with friends happen to be. 

So, after responding to her email with an all-caps YES!, I did as much of a happy dance as I could get away with doing in my cubicle without eliciting stares from my co-workers who would no doubt be questioning my sanity (more so than they do now, that is).

We decided to meet at the cafĂ© attached to the Bristol Farms next door to my office building, both for convenience and because the food there happens to be quite good. We ordered and then settled in for an hour’s worth of gab and gossip. Our food arrived, and then Sarah said this:

“This is so good! I would love to know how to make this.”

Let me just say this: you should never say anything “off the record” in front of a reporter, you should never tell a secret to a 7-year-old, and you should never say the words “I’d really love to know how to make this!” in front of a food blogger. At least, not without expecting a subsequent post, like this one. Sarah is one smart cookie, though, so I expect she knew exactly what she was doing.

You know this sandwich, you really do. Marinated Portobello sandwiches are ubiquitous, and rightly so; they are so good. I’m surprised it took me this long to try my hand at making them myself. Thank goodness for lunch out with good friends.

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Burgers
From Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

I've mentioned it before, but I do not own a grill. A real, outdoor one, that is. What I do have now, care of my very generous neighbors, is a large George Foreman grill. It worked perfectly to make this sandwich. 

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 red bell pepper (ribs & seeds removed), quartered (1 pepper was not enough for all the sandwiches this makes, next time I would use 2 or 3)
8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
8 hamburger buns
5 ounces fresh goat cheese
lettuce leaves

1) In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place the bell pepper and mushrooms in a shallow dish (or a big plastic bag - my 9 x 13 pan was way too small for all of this) and pour the marinade over, making sure to coat everything well. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.

2) Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Grill bell pepper*, skin side down, until blackened, about 10 minutes; remove from grill. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin; set bell pepper aside. Grill mushrooms, covered, until lightly charred and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

3) Assemble burgers: top the bottom half of each bun with lettuce, goat cheese, bell pepper, and a mushroom. Close burgers and serve immediately.

You can also roast the red bell peppers in the oven at 350 degrees F for one hour, turning every so often so they evenly blacken. Then cool and peel as instructed above. 


  1. oh yum! This looks and sounds so good!

  2. i love a good mushroom burger, i am going to try to make one with the mushrooms AS the bun.. not sure it will work. stay tuned. I agree, love going to lunch, feels like such a treat!

  3. I've been dying to make something like this--it looks delicious! :)

  4. I can't wait to try out your recipe!!! Glad that our lunch inspired yet another one of your amazing dishes!

  5. This is simple enough for ME to do... --gotta say, I eat bell peppers ALL THE TIME, but never have I baked and removed the skin...I have learned so much right now. I think I may look pretty slow to your foodie friends right now, but I don't care. There is a first time doing anything.