I like to think of Portobello mushrooms as the steak of the vegetarian world. These mushrooms are thick with a meaty texture and, unlike other mushrooms, they can stand on their own as a complete meal. Or, you can serve them as a hearty side dish or slice them up in a serious salad.
Portobellos can seem a bit intimidating because you clean them differently than other vegetables. This is how I prepare them:
- Remove the stem by simply pulling it out with one hand while gently gripping the cap with the other hand.
- Scrape out the gills on the underside of the mushroom with a spoon. The gills are safe to eat, but tend to have a slimier flavor and lead to ‘dirtier’ looking dishes.
- Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the entire mushroom.
There are some great YouTube videos showing the step-by-step process, too. It only takes a few minutes, I promise!
Why you should eat mushrooms: The benefits
- A Portobello mushroom has about as much potassium as a banana.
- They’re chock-full of antioxidants – and don’t lose their cancer-fighting power when cooked, so you can enjoy them however you like them!
- They also don’t lose their minerals and nutrients when cooked – which include niacin, selenium and copper.
- They’re delicious.
Balsamic Roasted Portobello Mushrooms & Red Peppers with Feta and Avocado
4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and gutted as described above
1 red pepper, cut length-ways into four large slices
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
Crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 avocado, sliced, to garnish
- Marinate the mushrooms and peppers in the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, rosemary and thyme for at least one hour (but no more than six or the mushrooms will break down).
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Place mushrooms and peppers on an oven-proof pan and cook for about 20 minutes. You will notice that the mushrooms bleed out much of their moisture – this is normal.
- Sprinkle feta cheese on each mushroom – I like to put the cheese on the underside of the mushroom to make use of the natural cup shape.
- Once cheese is melted, serve. Place one piece of pepper on the bottom, followed by a Portobello and garnished with avocado slices.
This Sunday, the only thing I’m looking forward to more than the Super Bowl commercials is the Super Bowl food. While wings and beef-covered nachos may be the norm, vegetarians can have some football food fun, too! There are plenty of amazing vegetarian and gluten-free options for celebrating the big game. Here is a list of some of my favorites, with links to recipes:
–Vegetarian Bean Chili
–Mango guacamole with corn chips
-Vegetarian nachos –Just add your favorite ingredients to corn chips. I go with vegetarian refried beans and cheddar cheese (baked in the toaster oven until the cheese melts), with guacamole and salsa for dipping.
-Gluten-free crackers with brie and raspberry jam
–White cheddar cranberry dip –I haven’t actually tried this yet, but it looks amazing!
–Spinach artichoke dip with corn chips
–Creamy French Onion Mac and Cheese made with gluten-free pasta
–Seven layer dip
What will you be cooking up this weekend?
Okay folks, here’s a super easy and delicious lunch idea with lots of protein to keep you going all day. I give you: Mango Bean Salad! I put it on a bed of spinach and spring lettuce, but I could see this as a good topping for a veggie burger or as a quick side dish.
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained (in the summer you can use corn from the cob)
1 red bell pepper, cut up into small pieces
2 medium avocados, sliced into small pieces
1 large mango, cut into small chunks
1 tsp olive oil
dash of salt to taste
Mix all ingredients. That’s it!
Hurricane Sandy swept through New Jersey this week – which meant it was time to use up anything perishable in the refrigerator while we still had power. I had almost two pounds of carrots in my fridge, because every time I go to the supermarket I convince myself that carrots could become my favorite afternoon snack… which it never does. This soup, on the other hand, is much more appealing – the ginger, cumin and thyme add a depth in flavor that makes boring old carrots more exciting. And it’s a warm, hearty soup for a cold, rainy day. Stay safe, everyone!
1 3/4 pounds carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 small sweet onion, chopped into small pieces
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to broil.
2. Place carrots and half the olive oil in pan, mix, and place in the oven. Broil for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
3. While the carrots are cooking, bring the broth to boil. Add the ginger, thyme and cumin and simmer.
4. While the broth is heating up, brown the onions in the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and brown.
5. When the carrots are ready, combine the carrots, onion and garlic and broth mixture.
6. Use an immersion blender to combine the mixture until smooth.
I must admit something to you, blogworld: Despite my love for fine food, my favorite meal is still the same as most four-year olds’. To say I love macaroni and cheese is an understatement. For my entire first grade year, I refused to eat anything but macaroni and cheese for both breakfast and lunch. My more mature second-grade self made the sacrifice of adding PB&J into the mix now and then (in the name of nutritional balance, of course) but I have never tired of this delicious comfort food. This recipe uses three types of cheese, including one that is infused with French Onion flavor to give it a unique and savory taste.
Creamy French Onion Mac and Cheese
2 servings quinoa pasta shells (or any pasta will do)
2 ounces swiss gruyere, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp cream cheese (gluten-free)
1 wedge Light French Onion Laughing Cow cheese
3 tbsp half and half
1 tsp butter
- Cook pasta as directed and drain.
- Place pasta back in pot.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pasta and cook on low, stirring continuously until all ingredients are melted and evenly distributed. If your sauce is too thick, add more half and half as needed.
You can also add some great mix-ins to this classic mac: caramelized onions, broccoli, peas, stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. What’s your favorite mix in?
It’s not very often that I am inspired by a meal I have during a meeting at work, but today was an exception. An outside caterer brought us a salad in a cilantro cumin dressing, and it was such a great combination that I had to make my own version. Here is a southwestern spin on the classic potato salad, made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise to save some calories and add protein.
Cilantro Cumin Potato Salad
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
6 red potatoes, cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 avocados, cubed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved long ways (I also squeezed the juices out)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 5.3 ounce container of Greek yogurt
2 tbsp half and half cream
1/4 tsp cumin
5 tbsps fresh cilantro, minced
1 tsp minced garlic (you may want more, but start with this)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Put the red potatoes and sweet potatoes in a roasting pan. Cover with the olive oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and slightly brown on the edges.
- While the potatoes are roasting, make the dressing by combining all dressing ingredients and whisking until smooth.
- When potatoes are done, combine all ingredients, cover with dressing, and mix until evenly distributed.
- Serve at room temperature and enjoy!
The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, which means it’s time for the beach, flip flops and barbeques. This is one of my favorite, Greek-inspired recipes that takes a summer staple and makes a unique and refreshing side dish for an outdoor party.
The combination of ingredients may seem a bit unusual, but the sweet and salty flavors of the fruit and cheese blend naturally, while the mint adds a subtle, refreshing finish to each bite.
I recently served this to my Yia-Yia, who looked surprised and told me, “You know, this looks really odd, but it’s so delicious!” I hope you think so, too.
Watermelon Feta Mint Salad
1/4 watermelon, cubed
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
6-8 leaves fresh mint, cut into small pieces
Combine all ingredients and enjoy!
The Veggin’ Out series is all about easy (yet still delicious) recipes – made for lazy days.
For Cinco de Mayo, I’m whipping up some Mexican-inspired meals. This easy guacamole recipe is sweet and citrusy, perfect for topping off a spicy enchilada or just for dipping with corn chips. (It’s also best when served with a margarita!)
2 ripe avocados
1 ripe mango, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (I like Trader Joe’s Pineapple Salsa for this citrus version)
Cilantro and salt to taste
- Scoop avocado meat into a bowl. Mash with a fork to desired texture.
- Add salsa, mango pieces and cilantro (if you like cilantro).
- Squeeze the juice of half a lime onto mixture.
- Stir and taste. Add salt if needed.
*Guacamole tip: squeezing lime juice onto any guacamole you make will not only add nice flavor, but will also help protect your guacamole from turning an unsightly brown color that naturally occurs with oxidation.