I have always been afraid to cook on the grill. To be completely honest, that is my dad’s territory. Just last night he sent me a slightly disturbing picture of a full chicken stuffed with a beer can cooking on the grill (it looked like it was squatting over the beer can- so creepy). So, every time a recipe called for something to be grilled I always enlisted his help. I decided that since summer is unfortunately coming to an end I should probably overcome my grilling fears before it is too late and the grill is packed away for the winter. I finally decided to make Portobello mushroom burgers from Skinny Taste (seriously great blog) because what says grill more than burgers!
- 4 portobello mushroom caps
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1-1/2 tsp steak seasoning like Montreal Steak Grill Mates
- 4 thick slices red onion
- 4 oz reduced fat Swiss, sliced thin (Alpine lace)
- 4 thin slices tomato
- 1/2 avocado, sliced thin
- baby spinach
- 4 whole wheat low calorie buns (I used Martin)
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, rosemary, and Montreal steak seasoning. Place the mushroom caps in the bowl and toss with sauce, using a spoon to evenly coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, turning a few times.
Top the mushrooms with cheese during the last minute of cooking. While the mushrooms cook, grill the onions about 1 minute on each side and grill the buns until toasted.
To finish, place the spinach and grilled portobello mushrooms on the buns and top with the grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado.
So the grill was a little scary at first. I had to enlist the help of my dad to light it (I wasn’t aware I needed to turn the gas on) but after that I was on my own. The burgers ended up being pretty easy! After I marinated them for 25 minutes, I placed them on the grill and used the left over marinade to baste them periodically. They cooked really quickly and with almost no effort from me. As you can see in the picture, the mushroom caps were all different sizes, so they all took different times to cook. If I make these again, I will definitely try to pick mushrooms that are more similar in size, just to make it a bit easier. I also substituted Provolone for Swiss cheese because just the other day Sadie told me she doesn’t like Swiss…at all. So I made a simple switch that really made no difference, just to make her happy. (Also there is some leftover cheese…guess who is eating a grilled cheese sandwich tomorrow :))
These mushrooms turned out amazing. They were so juicy and the marinade really gave them that fresh grilled burger taste. They also were very easy! Even a grill novice such as myself had no issue grilling these juicy “burgers”. And at only 295 calories they are guilt free! My mom said they are one of her favorites (big surprise there) but I am just going to accept her compliments and ignore the fact that she basically loves everything I make for her.
For side dishes, I decided to tackle my grilling fears completely and make two sides on the grill. I decided on grilled asparagus and grilled sweet potatoes from domesticateme.com.
- 1 bunch thick asparagus, about 24 spears, ends trimmed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from one lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Preheat grill to high.
- Place asparagus spears in baking dish and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Put asparagus on the grill, making sure spears are perpendicular to grates so they don’t fall through. Set asparagus dish next to grill (do not clean). Cover and cook asparagus for 3-4 minutes, until nicely browned and tender-crisp. Remove asparagus from grill and place back in baking dish. Let cool, then transfer spears to cutting board and cut into 1½” pieces. Place cut asparagus back in dish, then add remaining tablespoon olive oil, feta, lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss gently and season with more salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve room temperature or cold.
The asparagus was super simple, made even more simple by the grill pan we bought for my dad, the true grill master, for Father’s day. The pan ensured that none of the asparagus fell through the gaps in the grill grates and allowed me to turn them with ease. I drizzled the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt and then threw them in the pan and let them cook while I attended to the mushrooms and sweet potatoes. After they were cooked and nice and crisp, I added the lemon juice, zest, and feta cheese but I did eliminate the extra tablespoon of olive oil that was meant for the dressing because it was unecessary. There was already enough oil on them and adding anymore would have made them really soggy, which we all know I can’t stand. Otherwise this recipe was summery, citrusy, and fresh and it was a hit!
The potatoes were probably the most difficult thing to make, which isn’t saying much because the other two recipes were really simple.
- Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro-Lime Dressing: (Serves 4)
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Place the whole sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are just tender. (You really don’t want them to be mushy or they will fall apart on the grill. They should feel slightly resistant when you pierce them with tip of a sharp knife.)
- Strain your sweet potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins from your sweet potatoes (they should peel right off) and slice each potato on a slight diagonal into ½ inch rounds.
- Drizzle your sweet potato rounds with olive oil and season them with salt. Place sweet potatoes on the grill over medium heat. Grill your sweet potatoes uncovered for 6-8 minutes on each side or until they are very tender and have some badass grill marks. Remove from the grill.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing. Pour dressing over the grilled sweet potatoes and serve. Wassup, Grill Master Flex?
My potatoes were not as pretty as the ones on Domesticate Me (when I tried to peel the skin off the shape of the potatoes became irregular) but they really tasted great. The had a crisp, grilled texture to them and a great, strong flavor. I love cilantro, so the dressing was really perfect for me. When I make these again I will definitely use fresh cilantro since unfortunately the store was out today. I also think in the winter, since I don’t have an indoor grill or grill pan, I will try to make these in the oven!
Tackling the grill was something I needed to do in order to expand my culinary horizons. Although I don’t think I’ll be making any squatting chickens anytime soon, the grill wasn’t as bad as I thought! I actually enjoyed myself, and cooking outside on a beautiful summer night was really nice. I think it is safe to say I will not be afraid to use the grill again sometime in the near future!