Confessions of a Lapsed Vegetarian

I believe that I’ve mentioned that for about eight years I was Vegetarian. Actually, all three of us in our little family were all Vegetarian. Our diet did include eggs, but we avoided dairy products. When we made the choice to once again included meat in our diets, we decided that we wanted to

1.) eat less meat at meals (maintaining portion control, something many people don’t do with meat)


2.) continue to eat Vegetarian meals on a regular basis.

Honestly, eating small portions of meat hasn’t actually been that difficult for us. What has become more challenging is continuing to eat Vegetarian meals on a regular basis.

The problem isn’t a dearth of tasty Vegetarian recipes. Rather it’s a lifetime’s indoctrination of thinking of meat as the main portion of the meal. It’s difficult, even after eight years of strict, voluntary, and pretty happy Vegetarianism, to remember that a meal doesn’t have to be built around an animal protein to be delicious and filling. If you doubt that, just watch the show, Top Chef, a few times and see the complaints when chefs have to forego animal protein. They often don’t even know where to start! Part of me is baffled and saddened by that, but I do find myself falling into the same trap.

Born of the desire to maintain a healthy diet, I’m starting this section: A Meal A Week Vegetarian (MWV). I’ll be doing my best to cook at least one meal a week that’s Vegetarian. Usually the recipe will be for a main dish. However, because we do often eat meatless pasta dishes and meat-free homemade pizzas, sometimes recipes will be for things other than the main dish. Few, if any, recipes will use tofu or other ‘meat substitute’ products, mostly because I found that I’m allergic to soy and so we rarely eat it. (Cook’s rules rule!)

By maintaining this section, I’m hoping to remember to use some of the wonderful Veg-friendly recipes I’ve fallen in love with over the past decade. Today’s recipe is for Portabello Mushroom Burgers, and not just one of those ‘grill a mushroom, slap it on a bun and call it a burger’ kind! Also, these do not taste like beef (or turkey) burgers; they’re not a meat substitute. But they are easy-peasy!

This recipe has very few ingredients: one onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a pound of Portabello Mushrooms to begin. While we can now purchase sliced portabellas, I prefer to use the whole ones. Sometimes the sliced ones can be overly dry, however if that’s all that is available, go for it!

After chopping the onion and crushing the garlic, I sweat them in a few tablespoons of olive oil. The mushroom is diced and added to the pan. I usually use at least a 12 inch pan, which allows for a fairly even but not too deep layer of the chopped Portabella. At this point I add any seasonings to the pan.

Once the mushrooms have been cooked down and the liquid has evaporated, which usually takes about 15 minutes or so, the mixture is removed to a bowl and placed in the fridge to cool.

I could certainly cool them on the counter top, of course, but I invariably decide I want to make these for dinner on a night when I have less time. So usually they go into the fridge for a little bit. The objective isn’t to make the mushrooms cold, but to cool the mixture enough so that I can add the next ingredients without cooking the eggs.

Two eggs and a scant cup of seasoned bread crumbs get mixed in with the Portabellas.

Then I shape the burgers. This recipe makes enough for 4 burgers.

The burgers are cooked on a flat pan and topped with cheese. We ate ours on Beranbaum’s Best Buns, topped with tomatoes from our garden and fresh baby spinach, a great substitute for lettuce.

Super Yummy Portabello Burgers (Printer-friendly recipe)


1 medium Onion, chopped
2 large cloves Garlic, crushed
1 pound Portabello Mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon each of dried Parsley and Oregano or 1 – 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
2 large Eggs
3/4 – 1 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
In a saute pan, heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sweat onion and garlic until translucent, then add Portabellos and spices. Feel free to add more or other spices to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook mushrooms, stirring from time to time, over medium heat until tender and all liquid in pan has evaporated. Place mushrooms in a bowl and set aside on counter or in fridge to cool.
Beat eggs slightly and add to cooled mushrooms, along with 3/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Stir to incorporate, adding more bread crumbs if necessary for the mixture to hold together.
Form Portabello mixture into 4 burgers and cook over medium to medium-high heat until lightly browned and heated through. Top with cheese if desired and serve.

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8 responses to “Confessions of a Lapsed Vegetarian

  1. Oooh I would love to try these! I doubt my husband would eat them, but I sure would!

  2. Wow! I really like burgers. Especially when it made special! 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for your visits to my blog! You have some yummy sounding things here. I mean who can resist cinnamon rolls?

    • Hi Gretchen, and thanks! I’m really enjoying your posts. I was lamenting having joined the Daring Bakers too late for the Bakewell Tart, but your Dulce de Leche one has me thinking I might just try baking that soon.

  4. I’m not a vegetarian but when I stop to think about what I really do eat, there are many days that I don’t have meat, just because I love so many of the other “proteins” out there, including cheese, eggs, nuts, etc. I will definitely be trying this portabello burger. Looks delish!

  5. Pingback: No, We’re Not Dieting Here «

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