My 30-year old A/C and Grilled Portabello “Burgers”

We live in a two bedroom townhouse, and yes, it feels like we’re walking all over each other, but for several reasons we’re here for a few more years. We moved in between my last two law school finals three weeks before Turbo was born 5+ years ago with the intent to move in 3-5 years. Oops.

That said, my air conditioner is original (1980) and the design of our home makes circulation abysmal. We’re also sort of cheap  frugal, which translates into not running the A/C, thus making stove and oven use problematic. Somehow, the heat from those permeate our house within seconds, but the A/C can take all day to cool this place down – go figure.

And now that you have my HVAC history, you will understand why many of my upcoming posts have everything to do with our grill or outdoor cooking or un-cooking. On any given hot day, you might find a Crock Pot or a rice cooker going on the back deck, or the grill fired up to bake bread, grill pineapple, make pizza, cook up fajita veggies, or even make cobbler.

And, since vegan grilling seems to be an undiscovered art, I’m on my way to discover it. We’ve already covered some of the best vegan burgers on the planet, but they’re fussy and I don’t have time for fussy this summer. I need quick – super quick. And I need something that omnivore company can try without needing to go looking for bacon.

Enter the Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burger. Or is it Portabella? Nobody seems to agree, so we’ll not worry about it. Just eat it. It’s hearty, and meaty, and not trying to pretend it’s something else. Matt found the recipe and I veganized it, which didn’t take much effort. After three tries we still love them. Matt’s brave parents even ate them without complaint and confessed to liking them! So feel free to head to your cousin’s 4th of July barbeque with these in tow, and I promise even the most die-hard meat-eaters will look enviously in your direction. (And sorry the pictures are lousy – these deserve so, so much better.)

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Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burgers, Veganized!

  • 2 tablespoons brown spicy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (probably optional, but use 1-2 T, then add water to 1/2 c, then emulsify)
  • 1 teaspoon Real salt (local first!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • Loaf of Somer’s Seeded Sandwich bread, sliced 1/2 -3/4″ thick – see modifications below
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • Lettuce – enough leaves to make it count
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin
  • Any other tasty veggies – roasted red pepper, sprouts, cukes – all would be tasty


Combine mustard, vinegar, oil or oil and water mixture. salt, pepper and hot sauce in blender, and whiz up until combined, Reserve two tablespoons of marinade and set aside. Place caps into a baking dish and pour remaining marinade over top. Use a brush to make sure all caps are covered with the marinade. Set aside and let marinate up to 2 hours, but 15 minutes will do.

Remove the portobellos from marinade and place gill side down on a preheated gas, electric or charcoal grill over medium-high heat. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side – longer if mushrooms are super fresh, fat and juicy.

In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup vegan mayo and the 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade.

Spread the flavored mayonnaise onto sliced bread and top with portobellos. Serve with sliced onion, lettuce and tomato.It will drip and be soggy, so lean over and keep a napkin handy!

My sweet Mods to Somer’s seeded sandwich bread:

Makes 2-9×5 loaves, a bit squat, but that’s okay. And seriously, this bread is so fast that it’s faster to make than to go to the store, especially with three kids! And cheaper since I don’t buy anything else…

Quick Sandwich Loaf


  • 4 C. whole wheat flour (I grind organic hard white wheat pretty fine, which keeps it light)
  • 2 C. unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • Scant 1 T. active dry yeast
  • 2 heaped t. Real salt
  • 2 2/3 C. warm water
  • 3 T. vital wheat gluten (extra to make up for all-purpose flour instead of bread flour)
In your kneading apparatus or with your hands, combine flours, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten and water. Knead for 10 minutes or until elastic and smooth. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two 9×5 loaf pans with parchment paper (like a sling) and spray the ends of the pans with non-stick spray. Divide in half and shape into two long skinny loaves, pressing them into the loaf pans so the dough is pushed into the corners and even. Let rest for 20 minutes. Brush top of loaves with a bit of olive oil, and using a serrated knife slash diagonally a few times across the top to keep it from breaking open while baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45, minutes or until crust is golden brown. You can also put some hot water in a pan in the oven to help it rise just a bit more – one of those no-knead artisan bread tricks. Remove from pans and let cool on cooling rack (you don’t want soggy bread). 

22 thoughts on “My 30-year old A/C and Grilled Portabello “Burgers”

    • They are soooo good, and way healthier than their meaty alternative. I feel almost like I’m cheating when I eat them, but realize I’m not!

    • Ha! That’s a good way to differentiate! I love the photography on your blog! Some day when I get my arms back from holding kids, I’ll pursue that, but for now, they’re busy with babes! And I could totally get behind your stuffed portabellos – I wonder if I could make them on the grill? Our Costco has them now, so I might single-handedly keep them in business!

      • Aww thank you!!!
        Enjoy those arms holding kids – it goes SO quickly, you blink and then they are out of high school 🙂
        Yes, Portabello on the grill is amazing – add some fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme a small drizzle of olive oil and away you go – so good!!

  1. I really need a grill, pan frying those babies, while still tasty I’m sure would lack all the smoky goodness of the grill. :/ And to think this is the year we were going to invest in the big daddy of grills, then we went vegan. Haha. I need more of your posts to inspire me to still make the plunge.

    BTW, I made the seeded sandwich loaf sans seeds in the breadmaker on express yesterday (still can’t believe it’s 60 minutes start to finish) and added 1/4 C. sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) 1/2 C. Roughly chopped kalamata olives, 2 cloves freshly minced garlic and a hefty grinding of black pepper. The loaf disappeared in minutes. I’m going to have to make it again very soon and take photos.

  2. Thanks for the like the other day! These look delicious. I’ve been working on a mushroom burger recipe myself with some yummy whole ingredients like lentils, flax, walnuts — will be up on the blog soon.

    • Thanks!!! I know, mushrooms can fall into that category, especially when prepared badly, but the grill gives them more than a fighting chance – just make sure they are super fresh or they’ll get slimy fast which i learned the hard way!

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