Portobello Mushroom Burgers for Your BBQ

Vegetarian Recipe that will make you forget all about that hamburger! I want to offer a meatless grilling option for your summer barbecues, one that is as easy as hot dogs, burgers and brats: specifically, grilled portobello "burgers."

I know it's not revolutionary, but the earthy flavor, punctuated by the bright clean taste of spinach and creamy melted mozzarella, is dandy.

Equally appealing: it's almost brainless to prepare. Other than brushing with a garlicky olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper, the mushrooms are no more difficult to throw on the grill than frozen veggie patties (the latter look so sad and shriveled on the grill; they're best kept inside). The accompaniments are equally easy: chopped sundried tomatoes, pre-washed baby spinach leaves, sliced mozzarella, and pesto (jarred or homemade).

The inspiration for the recipe was this: a package of portobellos marked down from $3.29 to $1.79.
The mushrooms looked perfect, but I knew they wouldn't last, so I had to act fast. Their flavor is stellar when grilled over charcoal (or a gas grill with wood chips). These "burgers" come together with the aid of a few pantry items.

You'll have plenty of opportunities to give this easy burger a go now this summer. And I guarantee this: if you make this for the vegetarian guests at your gathering, instead of frozen veggie burgers and tofu pups, they will become true-blue friends.

Portobello, Pesto & Mozzarella Burgers

Just like hamburgers, you can vary portobello burgers to your heart's content. Vary the cheese (blue, feta, jack, cheddar, haloumi, smoked gouda), the greens (arugula, mesclun, watercress, romaine), and the toppings (hummus, mustard, guacamole).

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed (chop and freeze stems for future recipe)
4 thick slices mozzarella cheese (preferably water-packed)
4 ciabatta rolls, halved
1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
2 cups pre-washed baby spinach or arugula
1/3 cup jarred sun dried tomatoes, drained, chopped

Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Combine garlic and oil in a bowl.
Brush garlic oil over both sides mushrooms. Season both sides of mushrooms with salt & pepper. Grill, stalk side down, 6 minutes or until almost tender.

Turn and top with cheese. Cover with grill hood (or upturned roasting pan if using a grill pan). Cook for 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Grill cut sides of rolls for 2 minutes or until toasted.
Spread pesto over bun bottoms. Top with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Sandwich with bun tops. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition per Serving:
Calories 251; Fat 6.4g (sat 1.3g, mono 3.3g, poly 1.6g); Protein 7.3g; Cholesterol 1mg; Sodium 539mg; Carbohydrate 37.9g