In the springtime of 2013, my son Matthew and I took a road trip to look at colleges.  One of our stops was Ithaca, New York, where Joe, Laura and I lived (pre-Matthew).  We visited Ithaca College and Cornell University, and we spent a delightful evening at the home of our long-time friends, Matt & Annie.  They treated my Matthew, our friend Sarah, and me to a delicious meal that included grilled portobellos which Matt W. stuffed with a mixture of finely chopped vegetables.  That meal is my inspiration for this burger recipe.


Portobello mushroom caps - 1 per burger
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 shallot

 2 cloves of garlic
1 medium jalapeno pepper (or serrano)

 Fresh mozzarella cheese (1 large ball)
Rolls - 1 per burger
Extra virgin olive oil
Worcestershire sauce (about 2 Tablespoons)

First, prepare the vegetable stuffing.  Use about half of each of the green and red bell peppers.  Remove the seeds and cut the peppers into long thin strips, and then across into small bits.  Mince the shallot and the jalapeno as well.  I prefer to leave the ribs and seeds in the jalapeno, but if you want less heat, remove the ribs and seeds before mincing the pepper.  Slice one clove of garlic.  Mix all of this together, and hold.

Next, combine 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and 1 clove of garlic that simply is crushed.  Let this sit for 30 minutes or longer, so that the garlic infuses the liquid.  You will brush this mixture on to the mushroom caps before grilling.  (If you are grilling a bunch of portobello caps, you might want to double this part of the recipe.)

Use a barely damp towel to brush any dirt off of the cap of the portobello mushrooms.  Then use a small spoon to gently remove the mushroom’s gills.  This step is not absolutely necessary, but it does create more room for the stuffing, and the gills will impart a dark / dirty look on the mushroom and contents if you leave them in.

Slice the fresh mozzarella into thin pieces or into small cubes.  You want them to fit into the mushroom cap ultimately.

Now all of the prep is done!  Easy!

Heat your grill to medium heat.  Have it ready to go.

On the stovetop, saute the mixed vegetables - the stuffing - in a small pan with 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Do this over medium heat.  Season with a pinch of salt.  Let the vegetables soften a bit (3-4 minutes) but try to retain some crunch.  It adds good texture to each burger bite.  Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm until ready to eat.

Brush your mushroom caps with the EVOO / Worcestershire mixture.  Don’t drench them!  Brush lightly.  Place them on your hot grill - over indirect heat - open side down (the side that used to have gills).  Don’t put the mushrooms over the flames or they will burn quickly.  Close the top (or cover) of the grill and let the mushrooms cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip them on to their cap-backs, still over indirect heat.  At this point, you can put the pieces of mozzarella cheese into the well of the mushroom.  Let the mushrooms cook another 3-4 minutes and let the cheese get nice and melty.

When the mushrooms are a deep brown and softened, and the cheese is melted, put the mushrooms on a plate to rest.  After a few minutes, tip the mushrooms and drain any excess liquid.

Top with the warm vegetable mix, and serve on a bun.

I promise, you will think you are eating a “regular” burger.  The mushroom is meaty, the veggies provide a tasty light crunch, and the cheese is ooey gooey.  Of course, you can use whatever cheese / toppings you like, but I think these work really well, and they remind me of a very fun evening spent with special friends, in a place that I love.

First published by Judy on November 10, 2013

Grilled Portobello Burger

The older I get, the more I enjoy vegetables all on their own.  While my guys ate beef burgers, I indulged in a mushroom burger.  I didn't miss the meat at all.  This burger is packed with flavor and juice, and it is totally satisfying.