Meatless Monday: Grilled portobello burgers

Marinaded, grilled to perfection, and topped with cheese, lettuce or arugula, and tomatoes, portobello mushrooms make a juicy alternative to traditional burgers.

The Garden of Eating
Marinaded mushrooms topped with cheese, lettuce or arugula, and tomatoes make a nice alternative to a traditional burger.

We're pretty religious about attending our little farmer's market every Wednesday afternoon -- for a family with a toddler who likes to cook and values delicious, locally-grown food, there's really nothing better. The downside of our regular attendance is that I've gotten tired of most of the (very tasty) dinner options available. But I had yet to try Marilyn's grilled portobello burgers so I bellied up (literally, I'm now two weeks away from my due date) to her station and placed my order. After a bit of a wait, I forked over my money and headed back to our blanket on the grass with my mushroom "burger" in hand.

I was pretty hungry (another by-product of pregnancy) so I tore into it. Mmmmmm... juicy, meaty, flavorful, and hearty. By the end I was a mess (they're not so easy to eat neatly - probably a bad idea for a first date...) but I sure was happy. The next week I went back and ordered another one. And the following week, I started buying portobello mushrooms to make these for myself at home. I've since made them three times and see no reason to stop.

The preparation is extremely simple (basically a requirement for me to even consider a recipe right now as extended standing at sink or stove makes my back ache) and the results are always spot on.

The marinade is up to you but I have been liking using a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, fresh rosemary, oregano and some balsamic glaze or vinegar for sweetness and depth. If you're in a rush, you could even (gasp!) use some prepared salad dressing and I'm sure the results would be good.

Let the 'shrooms soak in all that goodness for a while (a few hours is great). Then fire up your grill and get going. They do take a little longer to grill than a meat-based burger would.

Top with cheese (and let it melt on the grill), sliced fresh tomato and lettuce or whatever seems appealing. Although I topped this batch with goat cheese (and arugula and tomatoes from our garden), I have to admit that I have been even happier with less sophisticated cheeses like cheddar, swiss or provolone - the goat cheese is nice but ends up competing with the mushroom a little too much for my taste.

Toast your bun and try to get one that is a bit bigger than the mushroom as they are still very juicy after grilling and it's helpful to have a little bit of extra buffer between your hands and all that goodness.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Serves 2 (double or triple as needed)


2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, with stems removed

For the marinade

1 sprig fresh rosemary or other fresh herb (oregano, basil, etc.,)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
Big splash of balsamic glaze (or vinegar)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

For serving

2 round, crusty rolls or ciabatta buns, cut in half 
Sliced tomato
Sliced cheddar, provolone, Swiss or American cheese
Lettuce or arugula, washed and dried
Ketchup or tomato jam 


1. Make the marinade and place the mushrooms in it (you can either use a ziplock bag to ensure even coating or just put them in a bowl or shallow baking dish and remember to turn them a few times.) Let soak for at least half an hour and up to four hours.

2. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Place the mushrooms on the grill, gill-side down and cover. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften, roughly five minutes, then flip them over and grill for another seven or so minutes until soft and juicy when poked with a fork.

3. Top each mushroom with sliced cheese. Toss the buns onto the grill cut-side down. Close the grill and cook for roughly one minute. Open the grill up, turn it off, put your mushrooms on your buns, top with tomato, lettuce, or whatever you see fit and enjoy. Don't forget napkins!

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