balsamic portobello burgers with roasted garlic goat cheese and caramelized onions

Alternative (aka meatless) burgers are so hip right now. I would know, because I live in Seattle where everyone and their dog are on a special eating plan.  But, I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me, a self-proclaimed almost-vegetarian-except-for-bacon (and sometimes chicken or turkey if it’s humanely pasture raised organic blah blah blah).


You won’t even miss the meat, though, because science will back me up on this. And by science, I mean my home designed experiment with my husband and his best friend. They loved the burgers. The table was silent except for the noshing sounds and the drip of the marinade off their happy little hands. Therefore I conclude, based upon the evidence, that these portobello burgers will be enjoyed just as much as any other bleeding mooing pattie.


If nothing else, please promise me that you will make the caramelized onions or the roasted garlic goat cheese outlined in the recipe. They would bring any type of burger up to the nirvana level. Plus, the onion recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman, who is in my mind, a goddess of the kitchen and who I want to be when I grow up.


When I made these for the first time I got a lot of positive feedback and my head grew a few sizes. So really, this post is just another way of feeding my narcissistic appetite to be liked for the food I make or inspire. So, go enjoy the sunshine and put a few portobellos on the grill. If you are a fellow Seattleite, you have even more reason to do so since you won’t be grilling in the rain this memorial day weekend. Cheers!



onion recipe adapted gently from Smitten Kitchen

makes 2 burgers

2 large portobellos
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 head garlic (or half a head if you prefer lighter garlic flavor)
3 oz goat cheese
2 thick slices tomato (heirloom, if they are in season!)
leafy greens of choice (I used mostly spinach)
(optional) ½ jalapeño, sliced and de-seeded
2 buns (gluten-free if preferred)
salt and pepper to taste

marinate portobellos:
Trim portobello stems and clean off visible dirt. Place portobellos stem up on an edged baking tray and drizzle undersides with balsamic (2 tablespoons each burger). Marinate burgers in balsamic for approximately one hour. I usually find an out of the way spot on my kitchen counter or sometimes the fridge if it’s a warm day.

caramelize the onions:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan (I prefer cast iron) over no more than medium heat. Add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, until the onions are beginning to brown. Add vinegar and maple syrup and cook for another 25 minutes, until the onions are deliciously sticky and a dark amber color (Deb Perelman calls them “jammy” at this stage and I couldn’t agree more). Stir occasionally throughout this step. The key here is to not rush the onions; let them caramelize (relatively) slowly and you won’t regret it. By the way, the onions will cook down quite a bit so don’t be alarmed if it seems like a lot at the start.

make roasted garlic goat cheese:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the onions are doing their magic, trim the top of the garlic off, wrap in foil, and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on top before sealing the foil. Roast the garlic for 35-40 min, until soft and your house smells like garlic heaven. Use a fork to get the roasted cloves out of the garlic head and mash them into the goat cheese with some salt and pepper

cook portobellos:
Lightly dust the burgers with some salt and pepper.
oven: broil at 500 degrees F for 3-4 minutes each side
bbq: grill on high for 3-4 minutes each side

Assemble: Toast buns and assemble burgers with cheese, onions, greens, tomato, and jalapeños!

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