Shroom Burgers

Happy hump day, ladies and gents.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing vegan professional triathlete and Thrive author Brendan Brazier!  He was very friendly and down-to-Earth, and showed no sign of irritation at having to spend 25 minutes of his rockstar Ironman life talking to some peon-schmuck blogger.  So go ahead and put me in the fan-for-life category.  He gave me lots of great info that I’m sure you’ll be interested in, so as soon as I get a chance to transcribe the interview today or tomorrow, I’ll post it.

Shroomin’ with Rach

[portobello mushroom burger photo]For dinner last night, I made a vegetarian version of a Rachael Ray recipe from 365: No Repeats, the book that really got me started with cooking about five years ago.  We’ve made portobello burgers before and really enjoyed them, but this recipe has bonus s*** piled on top.  Arugula, a carmelized onion-olive sauce, and pesto ricotta.  Yummo!  Delish! EVOO!  Whatever else Rachael says!

Since I’m always on the lookout for new NMA-TV demo ideas, I was excited to find that this recipe calls for pitted olives.  So I made a quick vid for you, and threw in a little bonus about popping garlic cloves out of their skins, which uses the same highly-technical, sophisticated technique which I like to call “bashing with a knife.”  Fun for all!

Erin and I were pretty happy with the way the recipe turned out.  Nothing taste-bud-blowing, but a decent, fast, mostly-healthy weeknight meal.  And I realized something about Rachel Ray’s cooking.  A lot of “real chefs” disrespect Rachael because she didn’t go to culinary school.  But you know what?  I think that’s great.  She just throws stuff together that she thinks will taste good, stuff that trained chefs would never do, and lots of times it works.  I mean, who puts onions, olives, and tomato paste together in a burger topping?  It’s just different, not stuck in a stuffy culinary-school box, and for that reason I’m so glad that my first exposure to cooking was through Rachael’s book.  Annoying phrases and all.

Pesto-Ricotta Portobello Burgers Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 burgers):

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp canola/olive oil blend
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped (don’t mince too small or it will burn)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 Tbsp pesto (we bought it premade, use your own if you have it)
  • 1/2 vegetable stock
  • 4 whole wheat rolls (we used Ezekiel sprouted wheat)
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 cups arugula
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a wide bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar with half of the oil blend (2 Tbsp) and some salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the portobello caps in the mixture to coat them.  Place the mushrooms on a cookie sheet gill-side up, pour leftover oil/vinegar mixture onto the gills.  Place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they’re tender.

While the mushrooms cook, heat the rest of the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the red onion slices, the garlic, the tomato paste, and some salt and pepper.  Mix it quickly together and stir frequently to prevent anything from burning.  Let it cook for about 8 minutes to get nice and brown, but reduce the heat if things start to char.

Combine the ricotta cheese with the pesto in a bowl.  When the mushrooms have each finished cooking, spread the ricotta mixture on top of them and return to the oven for one minute.  Pour the vegetable stock and olives into the onion mixture, increase the heat to boil it, and let it reduce for a few minutes.

Assemble the burgers: place a portobello topped with ricotta on each bun, then top with the onion-olive mixture, then arugula.

[portobello burger photo]

30-Day What?

Today, for those not scoring at home, marks the end of my 30-Day Challenge.  Yee-haw!  If you can’t tell, my excitement is feigned.  The thing is, I realized pretty quickly that my main goal, to eat three vegan, high-raw Thrive meals per week, wasn’t very challenging at all.  In addition to the dinners, we started making smoothies, salads, veggie crackers, and sports drinks and gels from Thrive, so it kind of became part of my life.   In other words, I was so easy to incorporate these meals that my “challenge” didn’t take any effort at all.  So some of the fun of a good challenge was lost, even though I’m so glad to have made my diet even better.

As for the foam-rolling part, my secondary challenge, I was supposed to do that on every non-workout day.  Meh.  It didn’t happen; I probably did it once or twice per week, on average.  Still better than nothing, but I’m a little embarrassed at having not done what I committed to do.  Ah well.

I know that a few of you who took on challenges, particularly Christine and Hanlie, have stuck with them, based on the evidence provided by the links.  So congratulations to you!  I know some of my family members who took on challenges did pretty well, modifying slightly the parts that were unrealistic.  What about the rest of you?  Did you make it?  (I’m sure a few don’t even read the blog anymore.  They suck. :))



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  1. I agree…Rachel Ray is pretty much amazing. I love watching her cooking show because she has so many tips and tricks, and really knows how to make random ingredients come together to taste good.

    I didn’t take on a challenge this time…eeps! But I can’t wait to hear what others have to say. 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Green Eggs Minus the Ham…;) =-.

  2. those shroom burgers look awesome! I’ve never tried ezekiel bread…but I look at it everytime I’m in the store.
    .-= brandi´s last blog ..Honduras: Futbol = Loco =-.

    • Brandi, you should give Ezekiel a try. The taste is slightly different from whole wheat bread, I can’t really say whether it’s better or worse. Just different. But I feel better about eating it.

    • Martin’s foods sell Ezekield bread in the frozen foods section of its organic and healthy foods. That is our primary source of bread these days.

  3. Yay for portobello burgers! I love her 365 No Repeats cookbook – thanks for reminding me to get back to it 🙂
    .-= katherine´s last blog ..Pardon the Interruption =-.

  4. I wish I was a shroom fan! These look fantastic- especially with all those yummy toppings! I can’t wait to read the interview
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..More Peanut Sauce? =-.

  5. I had mixed results w/ my 10 miles a week challenge. I started it the week of 7/12 as well and, truth be told, I was successful…until last week. I let an extremely stressful situation consume much of time and energy…rather than using walking as an outlet, it went by the way side and I am not too happy about that. One major bonus, however, was a new Saturday habit that Joel and I created…for several Saturdays in a row, we walked at least 4 miles and hit up our neighborhood farmer’s market. We even took our 15 year old nephew when he came to visit. During these walks we found some great produce, a local mag called Edible Chesapeake, new recipes and an awesome after-school program called BUGS (Baltimore’s Urban Gardening for Students). Their veggies, dressings and sauces are the highlight of the market for me and the kids seem really great!!

  6. I think it’s awesome that the Thrive lifestyle came so natural for you and Erin. That’s something that I think most people have a stigma over– that eating healthy or raw or what have you is HARD and not yummy. Clearly you’ve proven the system can be easy and delicious.

    P.S. your burger picture have me salivating (gross? sorry, it’s true).
    .-= Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn´s last blog ..2 Run Charlie =-.

  7. A friend of mine is a chef and he and all his chef buddies look at Rachel Ray with such disdain for the reason you mentioned- she’s not classically trained. But this is what I love about her. Her dishes are fun and creative and so simple, I don’t have to be a chef to figure her recipes out. I love her!

    Bah. I’ll be glad when my 30 day challenge is up on the 13th. Let’s just say that a person can only eat so much zucchini. I’ll blog about it sometime. I’m glad your challenge went well. Interested to see what you come up with next!
    .-= VeggieRunnr´s last blog ..Effects of Running =-.

  8. The challenge! … the challenge… 🙁 I was all over the first 30 day challenge! This one, I just couldn’t get my feet under me. I chose to change 3 things. The song by Meat Loaf, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad comes to mind. But what if I only succeeded with one? Does that mean it is bad? A test score of 33% would be a failure, but how could a positive change performed for an entire month be anything but a success! So… the reduced caloric intake- failure. The healthy breakfasts everyday- mostly a failure. The extreme reduction in the amount of alcohol- success! And it was hard- my entire social life with family and friends including my 83-year-old aunt revolves around drinking and eating. And it’s fun. I took some grief from some people, but stuck to 3 drinks a week. Fouth of July- one drink. Crab feasts- one drink. Family happy hours- one drink. It felt really, really good.

  9. Sadly I didn’t get on board with the 30 day challenge because I didn’t discover your awesome blog until you were well into it! BUT I do agree that those that don’t read the blog anymore suck 🙂

    Those burgers look AMAZING! I’m seriously drooling over them!
    .-= Cait (Cait’s Plate)´s last blog ..Repeat Luncher =-.

  10. hahaha oh matt. hilarious and entertaining and informative all in under 2 minutes. lovely! i peel my garlic that same way but never have used the method for olives. good trick! and i hop the puppers didnt choke…

    nice job on the 30 days completed! i havent even been a reader for that long.. so i was not keeping a tally on my calendar of it, unfortunately. but good for you!

    and i love rachael ray. i agree with what you said about her. i will have to check that book out!
    .-= janetha´s last blog ..a new tradition. =-.

  11. What’s not to like about this!? And you included olives too! Bliss. Just bliss.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup =-.

  12. My 30 day challenge:

    The no caffeine and drinking 64oz of water a day was the easiest for me. Now I start getting cranky if I don’t have enough water in the morning, like I used to get without coffee. I think I will go back to having coffee but not give up the water.

    No peanut butter was easy, especially when I started buying non-pb-friendly fruit like mangoes and grapefruit.

    Getting to the gym 4 times a week for cardio was a lot of fun, and it was nice to bring my bag to work and have it be a planned part of my routine. It got easier once I joined a sports team and had planned practice and games. The stretching however was not as successful. I need to work on being disciplined at home as well as at the gym.

    The dairy was the biggest change for me, and I only slipped up a couple of times. Greg and I had delicious pizza tonight to celebrate the end of the challenge but honestly now my tummy feels very uncomfortable. I think I will keep the cream in my coffee but stick to alternative milks in my cereal and most of the time hold the cheese.

    Oh, this wasn’t the intention but I also lost a couple pounds. I’m super glad I participated; I feel a lot more in tune to my body and the things I put in it.

  13. It sure looks YUM-O!! That’s so funny, because I was just explaining to my friend what EVOO is. I adore Rachel Ray, so I get surprised when people don’t understand her catch-phrases!
    By the way, the burger looks freaking AMAZING!
    .-= Sophia´s last blog ..All Thanks to Love, Friends, and Party-Poopers =-.

  14. The mushroom burgers look amazing. I hope to try that soon. I think I can eat the sauce on its own, sounds so delish.

    While I get a lot of different veggies, mushrooms rarely make it in my shopping cart. Next time I go to the grocery, I’ll make sure to grab a bag or two.
    .-= Mia {runs & rests}´s last blog ..Back To School Staycation =-.

  15. Hey there. Completed my 30 day challenge and am happy to still be vegetarian (high raw) and getting ready for my first 5K at the end of the month. I am up to 2.5 miles now without getting tired. Now I just have to get my ITB to agree.

    I too forgot when the challenge was supposed to end and did not find it all as challenging as I thought it would be.

    Was your interview recorded on the phone? If so I can show you how to post it online…. 🙂 Burger looks great! Not that much into portabello though.

    PS. I love the sports gel from Thrive. I use it all the time and it gives me a great boost for my workouts.

    • Hethir, the interview was recorded, although it wasn’t very high tech… I held a microphone up to a phone and recorded it on a TAPE RECORDER. Remember those antiques? I think to convert it to digital would result in even lower sound quality. But I’ll keep your offer in mind for next time…

  16. Yum, portobellos rock! And I love Rachael Ray because she makes food real people will eat. Alot of the “real chefs” make pretty food that no real people would make at home or even eat.
    .-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Farm Fresh Eggs =-.

  17. Ah yes, it’s the end of the 30 day challenge! I hadn’t even realized! It was such a good thing for me, because the things I wanted to avoid on this challenge are the things that usually trip me up. So being without them for 30 days was such a blessing… I now say no thank you to them automatically.

    I learned something with the olives and the garlic. I’ll be sure to try it!

    Looking forward to the BB interview… I ordered one of his books yesterday.
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Raw Food Cleanse Update (1) =-.

  18. These look good and the recipe sounds like a winner! So many veggie burger recipes don’t include enough flavors and spices. Yours delivers. I’m going to try these. LOVE your blog! :<)

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