You Don’t Mess Around with Stacked Portobellos and Sundays

Picture it’s Sunday night. 85 degrees. Too steamy to cook indoors. Too perfect a summer evening not to eat well.

An opportunity to work on this year’s summer resolution emerges: master the grill. Note: I have not fared so well with this in the past, though it did inspire a good life lesson: keep calm and carry rum.

Sunday it was me alone. With charcoal. A chimney starter. A few newspaper sheets. Fresh peaches. Rosemary-marinated portobellos. Some leftover garlic scapes. Poblanos. A flame-resistant oven mitt. And the Cat Stevens Pandora radio station, rooting me along.

I used to despise Sunday, its presence signaling the workweek ahead. But Sunday has become a favorite of mine. A day of no obligations. A day for sitting poolside and visiting antique shops. Or for an evening of cocktails on the patio, paired with slightly charred edibles. This is a day, my friends, not to be messed with.

So there I was, dark and stormy cocktail in one hand, tongs in the other: standing over a flaming grill. Cat Stevens had just finished singing about the very young. “You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while” he noted. Up next: Jim Croce, warning “You don’t mess around with Jim.” Life doesn’t get much better.

Taking heed from Cat and Jim, I've decided this summer the grill is mine. And getting a good handle on it is pretty satisfying, especially when it produces one of the best burgers I have ever had. Let me repeat, have ever had.

Now, I’m not a vegetarian. When the mood strikes, I love a good burger, but I'm going to be hard pressed to find a better summer sandwich. This little portobello number, with all its smoky fixings, is where it’s at. It was inspired by a fantastic blog filled with vegetarian recipes: Green Kitchen Stories. Vegetarians and meat eaters unite: this is the perfect burger for a balmy Sunday.

And Sundays are most definitely not to be messed. (Nor is an evening topped off with oldies music and washed down with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, for that matter.) As for the grill? If I could borrow from our pal, Jim:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.

And you don’t mess around with the grill.

Stacked Portbello, Peach and Avocado Burgers

6-8 portobello mushrooms, dirt brushed off with a paper towel and stems removed
~1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
~5 tbsp olive oil, divided
4-5 rosemary sprigs
2 sweet onions, peel removed and sliced in half (so that rings remain intact)
2 poblano peppers, halved, stem and seeds removed
A few garlic scapes
~1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 lemon, halved
2-3 peaches, cut in half with pit removed
Salt and pepper
1 avocado
Pinch of red pepper flakes
~2-3 ounces blue cheese
A few basil leaves
4 hamburger buns

Makes about 4 burgers

In a large bowl, place mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and ~2 tbsp of olive oil. (Add more olive oil and balsamic as needed.) Remove rosemary leaves and add to mushrooms; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss gently with hands and set aside.

In another large bowl, place peppers, onions, paprika, juice of 1/2 a lemon and ~2 tbsp olive oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss gently and set aside.

In a smaller bowl, season peaches with salt and pepper; add remaining olive oil and a little squeeze lemon juice (leaving the remaining juice for the avocado). Toss and set aside.

In another small bowl, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and mash it. Season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes.

Prepare a charcoal grill to medium-high heat (at this temperature you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill for 3-5 seconds. (This should take about 15-20 minutes with a chimney starter.) Grill mushrooms, onions, peppers, scapes, and peaches for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly charred, turning once. Towards the end of the cooking, place about 1 tbsp blue cheese on each mushroom to melt.

Spread about 1 tbsp of the mashed avocado on the bottom of the bun and then assemble the grilled vegetables, peaches and basil leaves on top, as you see fit. (You may want to leave the mushroom with the blue cheese for the very top to help adhere to the top bun.)

-I made sesame buns for the 4th of July and had some leftover. While they were tasty, they were harder rolls and would have been better for a studier sandwich. (Which just made things a bit messy.) Brioche would probably be perfect to smoosh and squeeze the burger and its stacked contents.

-Make extras. If you're going to spark up the grill you might as well make your efforts last during the week. (Did somebody say "grilled peach Tuesdays?!")


  1. The burger looks wonderful.

  2. I love your description of Sundays and I love that burger!

  3. We are moving soon and I'm looking forward to learning how to master a grill on our new patio! And I totally agree, I've really been loving my Sundays lately!

  4. what an incredible grill creation! I wish I had a grill!!

  5. what a great read. while i don't care for mushrooms in any way, shape, or form, the rest of the components here are terrific. nice work!

  6. Never tried portabella mushrooms until we lived in Europe and now I don't think we'll get this in India. Your burger looks wonderful, very healthy..
    Loved your blog and recipes, happy to follow you :)

  7. Ooooh, I love the sound of your Sundays. And that burger almost denies me of proper speech: all I can think is "want now!"

  8. Peach avocado and mushroom? Wow what an imaginative combination -- I'd love to try this.

  9. ohh...wow..this looks just awesome..
    first time here..love ur space..
    excellent recipe collection..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  10. Keep calm and carry rum - love it! I am totally craving some grilled portbellos right now

  11. I don't have a grill (just moved to apartment in Brookline). But still made this recipe. Amazing!!! I am doing a full feature on it for my blog.

  12. Awesome combination of flavors in this burger girl. Looks amazing!