A week or two (or three...I'm a little behind on my blogging) ago, Patrick joined me on my deck for another one of our dinner installments. Sadly our dear friend Willy couldn't join us this time, but not to worry, Willy, it's not like we mocked you in your absence or anything, not even a little, I swear it. Ahem.
It's grilling season, or at least it was a couple of weeks ago, before the heavy clouds settled on top of New York and decided to stay put for a while. And yet again, I wanted to think of something creatively vegetarian to make for Patrick and myself. First I envisioned a big platter of grilled vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers, drizzled with tahini, sprinkled with pine nuts and some chopped fresh herbs. That would have been delicious, I'm sure, but I decided I wasn't really in the mood for tahini. The idea of grilled vegetables resonated, though, and my thoughts turned to grilled portobello mushroom caps. Kind of a cliched choice for a vegetarian dish, though, right? I felt the same way. So I tried to mix things up a little. My solution? Serve the portabello caps on toasted wheat buns, spread thickly with a creamy, herby white bean spread flavored with lemon and olive oil, and top that off with crisp, peppery arugula:
In order to take further advantage of the hot grill and of my new herb garden, I also served up a tomato salad topped with grilled corn and fresh basil:
As far as I could tell, Patrick approved:
Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Herbed White Bean Spread and Arugula
1. Light a gas or charcoal grill, or heat a cast iron grill pan over medium heat.
2. Wipe 4 portobello caps clean. Place them in a shallow baking dish or rimmed plate and drizzle them with about 3 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, turning the mushrooms to coat them evenly. Sprinkle both sides of the mushrooms with salt and black pepper.
3. Grill the mushroom caps until they are tender and have lost a fair amount of their moisture, about 4 minutes per side. Set them aside.
4. Toast 4 whole wheat hamburger buns on the grill or grill pan. Place one mushroom cap on each bun, then top each with a generous spoonful of Herbed White Bean Spread (recipe follows). Spread to distribute.
5. Finally, top each burger with a handful of cleaned arugula or other bitter greens.
Herbed White Bean Spread
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1. Place one small (15.5 oz) can of white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained, in the bowl of a food processor or small electric chopper. Add 1 - 2 peeled garlic cloves, about 2 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, the juice of 1 lemon, and plenty of salt and pepper. Pulse to combine.
2. Add about 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to the mixture. Pulse to combine. The spread is done when it is nearly smooth but still has a bit of texture to it.
Summer Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn and Fresh Basil
1. Using the reddest, ripest tomatoes you can find, slice about 4 large or 6 medium-sized tomatoes about 1/2" thick. Lay the slices on a large plate or platter.
2. Prepare the corn: lay two ears of corn, still in their husks, on a medium-low grill. Cook, covered, until tender and slightly charred, turning if necessary, about 14 - 16 minutes. Remove corn from the grill, strip off the husks, and, using a sharp knife, shave the kernels off the cobs.
3. Sprinkle the grilled corn kernels evenly over the tomatoes. Dress the salad with about 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and plenty of salt and pepper.
4. Finally, shred or tear a good large handful of fresh basil and sprinkle it over the salad before serving.