I had the house to myself on a beautiful spring evening (gasp, no roommates?!), so I decided to invite over my chief vegetarian consultant Alyson for dinner and wine outside. Like me, Alyson is a sport and wine enthusiast, who introduced me to the world of yoga (namaste) and tailgating Maryland style. She always shows up early for dinner parties and gatherings to lend a hand and almost never walks through my door without a bottle of wine. Ah, the perfect dinner guest!
On the menu for dinner this crisp spring evening: grilled portobello panini with herbed goat cheese and caramelized onions, and butter lettuce with a light vinaigrette. Portobello mushrooms are a great, meaty (for lack of a better term) vegetable to make as a focal point of a meal, along with happening to be one of Alyson’s favorite things to eat.
Make sure to buy a wide, crusty loaf of bread and portobello caps (easier to grill). For the herbed goat cheese I used fresh rosemary and thyme, but if rather a different herb go for it – tarragon also works really well. As for the pressing of the sandwich, I went with the highly technical process of using a pan (quickly clean the bottom of the pan). Who needs a panini press? Not this girl.
The result is a crispy, melt in your mouth deliciousness. The saltiness of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the caramelized onions pair together so well, even better with the balsamic infused flavor of the portobello. Toss your butter lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic and some freshly ground pepper and pinch of salt. Pair the meal with a chill glass of white wine or whatever beverage of your choosing for the perfect evening dining al fresco.
Grilled Portobello Panini with Herbed Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions
2 portobello mushroom caps
5 0z. package of soft goat cheese
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon, fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon, fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (use side of your knife to mash it up further)
ground pepper and salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus 1 teaspoon for the herbed goat cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Heat up your grill for the portobellos. Lightly wash the portobello caps or use a damp towel to wash. In a large bowl combine olive oil, balsamic, fresh ground pepper and pinch of salt. Turn the mushroom caps in the mixture, like your making French toast (turning them so that all sides hit the balsamic mixture). Grilled the portobello on each side for about 3-4 minutes, keeping a close eye. Set aside.
Peel and then cut the onion in thin, half moon slices. In a large sauté pan over low-medium heat, sauté the onion slices with the butter, pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and translucent. Set onions aside.
Combine the goat cheese, rosemary, thyme, garlic, teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper in a bowl.
To assemble your sandwich, cut four thick slices of bread. Rub the outside of each slice with olive oil.Spread a good bit of garlic herb goat cheese on one slice, top with portobello cap, sliced tomato, scoop of caramelized onions, and another slice of bread on top.
Cook the sandwich in a large sauté pan over medium eat for about 3 minutes per side, pressing the top down with another pan and a weight in it (we used a metal knife holder). Slice in half and serve up.