Meatless Monday: Portobello and cumin spiced eggplant burgers

Mushrooms instead of bread as a 'bun' for your burger? It may sound crazy, but mushrooms work great as a gluten-free alternative, and the possibilities for fillings and topping are endless.

Beyond the Peel
Vegetarian diets are widely practiced. Maybe you've heard of using mushrooms instead of meat as a 'burger,' but what about using mushrooms as the bun?

How does a person make up for a week of mac and cheese, popcorn for dinner, and brownies? With veggies of course. Lots and lots of veggies.

A year ago I saw this idea to use portobello mushrooms as a burger bun as a gluten free way to enjoy a good ol’ beef burger. So I decided to try it. I was amazed at how well it actually works. It was super juicy and surprisingly satisfying. I also recently saw a great idea in a Denis Cotter cookbook to use thick slices of eggplant as an interesting burger bun option. So I decide to mash those two ideas together. As it turns out it – it's great!

I love this whole “thinking outside the box” thing. Mushrooms as bread? Crazy right? Until you’ve tried it of course!

Everything goes in the oven at 450 degrees F. on one cookie sheet. Twenty minutes later the burgers are quickly assembled and dinner is ready. Serve it with your favorite salad and voilà, a healthy alternative to typical barbecue night. And if you’re not an eggplant fan, no big deal. You can still use this concept with whatever filling you like.

Now I’m thinking about eggs benedict with a portobello mushroom instead of that tired old English muffin. I’ve also seen these bad boys of the mushroom world used as the base for a pizza. Such a fabulous idea. Really there are so many possibilities. Fried egg sandwich, tuna melt sandwich … the list goes on.

Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about a grilled or cooked portobello mushroom. I don’t want you trying this with a raw mushroom. That wouldn’t be as tasty.

Try this idea with:

  • Roasted peppers and brie
  • Grilled zucchini, feta and olive tapenade
  • Your favorite burger patty: veggie, fish, beef, or lamb
  • Mashed avocado, cilantro, and sliced tomato
  • Gooey melted buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and fresh basil

Note: In the photos I used one baby eggplant. Use three mini slices of roasted eggplant per person. One baby eggplant serves two people. Cut eggplant spice recipe in half if only roasting one baby eggplant.

Portobello and cumin spiced eggplant burgers

Makes 4 burgers

8 portobello mushroom caps

1 large eggplant

Olive oil

Eggplant spice (see below)

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce or a very flavorful sauce of your choice like roasted tomato jam or chutney

1. Set the oven to 450 degrees F. Using a paper towel, wipe clean the mushroom caps. Remove the stem. Brush the mushroom caps on both sides with olive oil and season the underside with salt and pepper. Set them on a baking sheet with tops facing down.

2. Slice the eggplant into 3/4-inch to 1-inch slices. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and toss them with the spice mixture and place them on a cookie sheet.

3. Bake the mushrooms and eggplant for 20 minutes, flipping the eggplant halfway through.

4. To assemble, top 4 portobello mushroom caps with 1 to 2 slices of roasted eggplant, roasted red pepper jam, and fresh cilantro. Cover with second mushroom cap and serve. Bring a big napkin. These are juicy.

*Alternately, this can be done on the grill. The mushroom caps only take about 8 minutes per side. Eggplant will be approximately the same.

Eggplant spice

For each large eggplant:

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the 3 seasonings together and toss with eggplant before roasting.

Additional topping suggestions:

  • Guacamole or Avocado Aioli
  • Salsa and cheddar
  • Grilled Haloumi and Mint Pesto
  • A whole roasted pepper (seeds and skin removed) and feta
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