Monday marked the start of National Vegetarian week here in the UK and I decided to take up the challenge of eating meat-free for its duration. My goal is not to become a vegetarian but I want to be a more conscious eater. Plus I was really curious to know how I would do without meat for a full week.
I am not a big meat-eater to start with, partially due to the poor quality of what is available in supermarkets. I’d much rather splurge once a fortnight on a succulent 30-day aged steak than eat cheap beef from Tesco’s on a daily basis. However animal produce is definitely part of my daily intake under one form or the other. I hope this week will make me think of the vegetables as the stars of my plate and not the supporting act. And hopefully I’ll learn a thing or two about my eating habits and how to improve them.
I wanted to start the week on the right foot so my first dinner was one I had made before and loved. The first time I cooked this recipe was by pure curiosity. We always talk about mushrooms being great meat flavor enhancer and I was really interested to know if the famous portobello burger would give the beef patty a run for its money. Well, let me tell you that it does! It’s meaty, juicy and earthy, just like a proper burger should be. My favorite toppings works well with it and i get the added bonus of not feeling drowsy or heavy afterwards. Win win!
With the perfect balance of comfort and indulgence, this meal will make you forget any non-vegetarian craving you might have. From the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard to the cheese and alfalfa sprouts, each layers add a depth of flavor needed to offer a mean competition to the king of the buns. If your planning a BBQ with friends this summer there is no excuses not to have a few vegetarian burger grilling, there are even quicker to prepare then the beef patties. I’m sure a few guest will be grateful for your initiative.
- 1 large Sweet Potato
- 1 heaped tsp Cajun/Southwest spice mix
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Portobello mushroom
- 1 tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1/2 Garlic clove
- Cheddar cheese
- Alfalfa sprouts
- 3 tbsp Yogurt
- 1/2 tsp Honey
- 1 Spring onion
- Squeeze of Lemon juice
- Bring a pan of unsalted water to the boil and turn the oven on to 200C/400F
- Wash and cut the sweet potato length-way in eight to create wedges.
- In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar and the Dijon mustard, keep aside.
- Once the water is boiling, plunge the wedges in and cook for 5 minutes.
- During this time remove and discard the stems of the mushroom. Lightly score the top of the cap in diamond shape and brush it all over, top and bottom, with the mustard-vinegar mix. Leave to marinate while you bake the wedges.
- Drain the sweet potatoes and place skin side down on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and the spices. Bake in the over for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the dip by chopping the spring onion in small rings and mix with the yogurt, honey and lemon juice. Add a good pinch of salt, stir and keep aside.
- In a small bowl, grate or crush the garlic and mix in the mayonnaise, keep aside.
- After 15 minutes add the mushroom, top side down, on the baking tray with the wedges and cook for 15 minutes, topping the portobello with cheese for the last 5 minutes.
- Once ready, the mushroom should have relaxed, the cheese melted and the wedges crispy. Slide the mushroom on the toasted buns with garlic mayonnaise and top with small handful of alfalfa sprouts. Serve with the sweet potatoes and yogurt dip.
- I buy my Southwest spice mix already prepared, but if you would like to make it yourself here is the one I would try: Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
- I love to use my zester to grate garlic. It's quick, simple and easy to clean.
- I highly recommend having a mint or chewing near by if you bring this lunch to work. The garlic mayonnaise is quite strong and if you have meetings with clients it might not be the best option.
- Here again you will need to finish the burger at work or it will get soft and soggy with no easy way of reheating it. Place the portobello topped with cheese and the wedges in a separate container. Prepare the bun with the garlic sauce and alfalfa, like you would a sandwich, and wrap. Bring the dipping sauce in a separate container too. Once at work reheat the mushroom and wedges. Slide the portobello between the bun and enjoy with the warm wedges and cool dip.