If there's one thing I love more than a tasty and multi-purpose ingredient, it's a free one. What can I say? I'm a poor student.
This summer, I was lucky enough to win a set of Made With Love Spice Blends from a giveaway hosted by one of my favourite bloggers, HoneyB over at Grumphy's Honeybunch, as well as one for a friend.
I received two bottles of Made With Love's Pesto-Garlic Spice Blend and two bottles of Crimson Love, a beet-rosemary-nori blend with the bright red colour to match. Although both spice blends are delicious, the pesto-garlic spice blend has been seeing the most use in my household. Maybe it's my love of Italian flavours. I've been using the spice blend in place of real pesto whenever possible - stirring it into tuna salad, sprinkling it on sandwiches. I love sandwiching a slice of fresh tomato between two slices of cheddar and two slices of bread, sprinkling Pesto-Garlic spice blend on top of the cheese, and grilling the sandwich until the tomato is warm and the cheese is melted. It's quick and easy and such a delicious snack or lunch. I love that the flavour of the blend is spot on, but it's missing the fat and calories of nutty, cheesy pesto.
One of my favourite uses of the pesto-garlic spice blend, though, is adding it to marinades. It's a simple step but adds a ton of flavour.
In this recipe, the pesto-garlic flavour infuses a balsamic vinegar marinade. Portobello mushrooms are soaked in the marinade for about half an hour before being tossed on the grill to be cooked through. After they're cooked and a slice of provolone cheese is melted on top, they're placed on a bun, topped with tomato and spinach, and slathered with pesto garlic-infused mayo. The combination of the hot, balsamic-pesto flavoured portobello, the melted provolone, the creamy pesto mayo, and the cool tomato and spinach is fantastic. A perfect vegetarian treat.
Pesto-Garlic Spice Blend Portobello Burgers
Makes 2 burgers
Note: I'm a balsamic vinegar lover, so I love how the balsamic soaks right into the portobellos in this recipe. If you'd like a more mellow balsamic flavour, you can balance out the vinegar with more olive oil.
2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems cut off
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Made With Love Pesto-Garlic spice blend (or actual pesto)
2 burger buns
2 slices provolone cheese
2 slices tomato
A few leaves of baby spinach, romaine lettuce, or other salad greens
1 tbsp mayonnaise
A dash of pesto-garlic spice blend
Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pesto spice, and salt and pepper in a casserole dish. Place portobello mushrooms in mixture. Marinate for 15 minutes, then flip over and marinate for another 15 minutes.
To make pesto mayo, combine 1 tbsp mayonnaise with pesto-garlic spice blend (or, again, actual pesto). Set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat barbecue to medium heat. When mushrooms are done marinating, place them right on the hot grill. Flip after 4-5 minutes. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, until tender but not shriveled. Then place one slice of cheese on each mushroom, closing the lid to help the cheese melt quickly. When the cheese has melted, remove the portobellos from the grill. You can also toast your burger buns on the barbecue.
Spread equal amounts of pesto-garlic mayo on both burger bun bottoms. Place one cheese-topped mushrooms on each bun, then top with tomato and spinach (or whatever greens you are using). Serve immediately.