Small confession here: I was originally planning on making a different recipe from New American Vegan as the third-recipe leading up to my book review. I was going to make Chocolate Avocado Fudgesicle Ice, and while that still sounds amazing, I keep forgetting to buy the ingredients I need when I'm at the grocery store. Plus, due to my weird pregnancy-related issues with chocolate, I haven't exactly been in the mood for something like this, despite the fact that eating the avocado would make my midwife happy.
Nope, I'll just stick to fulfilling my “good fat” requirements (seriously, midwife's orders) with plain avocados. In grilled cheese, in quesadillas, on nachos, with a spoon... Yum. Being pregnant is such a chore sometimes.
Anyway, I ultimately decided to go with a different recipe for this post. I actually made this a few days ago; I did try to take pictures, I swear, but they didn't come out very well. I could blame the lighting in my apartment, or my camera, or my cat, but it's really just because I'm not particularly skilled at food photography. No sense in trying to hide it; I'll work on it, I swear. And I'll try to actually include pertinent pictures in future recipe posts.
Back to relevancy. Last week, I found myself with a package of portobello mushrooms and no real plans for what to do with them. I was home by myself and it was getting close to dinnertime, so I figured I had best pull out the cookbooks and work something out. Normally, being home by myself ultimately leads to lazy meals; I love cooking, but sometimes it's hard to motivate myself to do so if I don't have anyone else to cook for. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as may be), I desperately needed to do some shopping. Being lazy, at that point in time, would have likely meant making a pot of rice or quinoa and steaming some veggies to go on top. Always a good meal, but I wanted something with a little more substance!
The winner that night? A recipe I found in New American Vegan for Hot Grilled Portobello Steak Sandwich with Gravy. Naturally, I didn't follow the recipe perfectly. Lacking bread, I instead decided to serve my mushrooms over a big bowl of mashed potatoes. It probably would have been good as a sandwich, as intended, but I thought that my way equaled comfort food at its finest (and easiest).
As I mentioned earlier, D wasn't home that night, but I thoughtfully set some aside for him to try later. His verdict? Via text: “The mushrooms. Are. Amazing!!” *beams* I do love making him happy!
Hot Grilled Portobello Steak Sandwich with Gravy
from New American Vegan by Vincent J. Guihan, reprinted with permission
1-2 cups gravy of your choice
4-8 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 slices whole wheat bread
Make 2 cups of gravy if you want more for your side dishes, or if you want to make a triple-decker sandwich, or if you like your gravy really thick (in which case, make a double batch and reduce by ¼). More gravy seldom hurts.
The number of mushrooms depends on how thick you like your sandwich and how large your portobellos are. For portobellos bigger than about 4 inches, 4 mushrooms should do for 2 sandwiches if you want something light. [Guihan] usually use[s] 3 larger portobellos, but [he] love[s] mushrooms. If your portobellos are smaller, use 6 to 8, depending on how small they are.
Begin by preparing your ingredients. First, prepare your gravy and leave it on low to keep warm. Next, bring the oil to heat in your pan on high heat. Add ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Add the sliced onion and sauté for 4 minutes. Slice the portobellos into ⅛-inch slices and add the portobello mushrooms and sauté for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the portobello slices are cooked through and the pan is starting to brown. Decrease the heat to medium-high and add the lemon juice, tamari, and water to deglaze the pan. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from heat. Taste and add sea salt as necessary. Add any reduction remaining to your gravy.
When the mushrooms and gravy are ready, toast your bread very lightly. You want to dry it slightly so that it will absorb the gravy a little more readily, but not to the point that the bread is browning. Layer the mushrooms equally between the two sandwiches with tongs. Ladle piping-hot gravy over the mushrooms and onto the sandwich open-faced. Add the top layer of toast, and push down on the sandwich firmly with a clean palm. Ladle your gravy over the top.
First off, note that I pretty much copied the recipe verbatim from the book; I know it's worded a little awkwardly at times, and I just wanted to point out that it's not my doing.
Anyway, as I said before, I didn't make sandwiches. Instead, I made a big pot of mashed potatoes, and served the mushrooms and gravy over them. To add a little more color, I served it with a side of steamed broccoli. The resulting meal was filling, too filling; I ate way too much, and consequently had a hard time sleeping that night. But it was so warm and comforting, I just had to eat all that I had served myself!
If I were making sandwiches, I'd probably go with a good, dense, hearty wheat bread. The author specifically notes that these kinds of sandwiches are traditionally made with white bread, and “the heat of the gravy melts the bread.” That would probably be good too, but I love how filling a good whole-grain bread can be.
The author recommends several gravy recipes from his book that go well with these mushrooms: Red Lentil Gravy, Red Onion Gravy, or Red Wine Gravy. His recipes did indeed sound delicious, but I instead chose to use the recipe for No-Beef Gravy from The Happy HerbivoreCookbook. I imagine that pretty much any good, savory gravy recipe would work well here; obviously, I would go with something vegetarian or vegan, but I'm sure carnivores could get fabulous results with a traditional brown gravy or an actual beef gravy.
Another thought: next time I make this, I might try using some onion powder (for flavor) rather than the fresh onions. I know that probably sounds like sacrilege, but I like experimenting. And besides, I always have onion powder on hand, but I don't necessarily always have red onions. I just want to see how it comes out; always good to keep your options open!