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EATING well

Build a better burger with portobello mushroom caps

Cilantro garlic sauce, tortilla chips and melted Gouda top off this portobello burger.

Associated Press

Cilantro garlic sauce, tortilla chips and melted Gouda top off this portobello burger.

May shepherds in the season of the backyard barbecue, and for us that means one thing: burgers. Let me back up and say that just about anything I make on the grill in warmer months I also make regularly inside on the stovetop. And while I do love a flat-top smooshed burger, the backyard barbecue burger remains in a league of its own.

Our family's burger bonanzas are a little legendary in our social circle (okay, so maybe with just my kids, nieces and nephews). The herby-garlicky sauce I make, called "magic" sauce by those in the know, is particularly popular. So when three of my extended family members went vegetarian, my burger-grilling game suffered. I did what any well-intentioned-but-misguided carnivore would do: I bought some frozen veggie burgers from the grocery store and called it a day. Now, to be fair, some of those veggie burgers are downright tasty. But, homemade-with-love-magic-sauce-worthy? Not so much. So, I upped my veggie burger game. While I do love the black bean-, quinoa- or legume-based versions I've created over the years, the simplest veggie burger of all remains a family favorite: the giant portobello mushroom cap. Bonus: This dish is low-calorie, leaving wiggle room for cheese, sauce and a bun, and it's nearly foolproof.

I used cilantro in this version because it pairs well with the baked corn tortilla chips (just a few go a long way to add satisfying crunch), but feel free to experiment with other herbs, such as basil or mint. Even carnivores might be converted.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."

GRILLED PORTOBELLO BURGERS WITH CILANTRO GARLIC SAUCE

For the sauce:

cup low-fat Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 scallion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce, if vegetarian)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water, if needed

Black pepper

For the burger:

4 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and gills removed

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Olive oil in a mister

Salt and pepper

4 slices Gouda cheese (or other favorite melting cheese)

4 whole-grain hamburger buns (not oversized)

1 cup peppery greens, such as arugula

4 large slices of tomato, or 8 small slices

12 baked tortilla chips

Make the sauce: Blend all of the sauce ingredients in the blender until mixed, but with small flecks of green. Pour into a small bowl and chill for up to 3 days.

Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the mushroom caps with the balsamic vinegar, spray liberally with olive oil, then add salt and pepper. Grill the mushroom caps for 3 minutes on the smooth side and then flip. Top with cheese and grill, covered, another 3 minutes, until mushroom is tender but not floppy and cheese is melted. Meanwhile, toast the buns for 1 or 2 minutes on the cut side, or until barely golden. Place peppery greens on bottom of the bun and then tomato. Remove the mushroom caps from the grill and place directly on the tomato. Top the still-hot mushroom with a couple of tablespoons of the sauce. Top with 3 chips on each burger and then the bun.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 357 calories (175 calories from fat, 49 percent of total calories), 15g fat (5g saturated, 0g trans fats), 23mg cholesterol, 626mg sodium, 45g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 9g sugar and 15g protein.

Build a better burger with portobello mushroom caps 05/26/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:19pm]
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