If you're gluten-free, on a diet, or just cutting the carbs like me, eating a sandwich can be a dangerous game. There are traditional alternatives such as lettuce or egg wraps, but they have their drawbacks: they can't hold as many ingredients, they can be lack flavor when raw and un-rendered, and it's hard to layer the toppings and condiments to create your perfect bite.
Thankfully, I've found the perfect solution: Portobello mushrooms.
Before I realized their true purpose as a bread substitute, all I knew about portobello mushrooms was that they were great stuffed; They have a concave pocket inside that holds a multitude of ingredients well and a curved rim that keeps the stuffing from spilling out easily.
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Then I reasoned: if one half can hold all that goodness and flavor, if you put another half on top... it would make one hell of a sandwich.
Portobello mushroom caps can substitute the bread for any sandwich—and make the perfect burger bun. They also have a meaty texture that make it both sturdier and more flavorful than other bread substitutes. For you carb-conscious eaters, there will still be some carbs, but it'll be much lower than other options, except maybe lettuce.
I now use portobellos as my go-to sandwich bread substitute, and here's the best way for you to do the same.
Choose the portobello mushroom caps that correspond to the size of your sandwich. For example, larger sizes will accommodate a deli-style sandwich, while smaller ones can act as a slider bun for a small burger.
The underside of portobello mushroom caps come with a stem in the center and surrounded by what is commonly referred to as "gills." Luckily, it only takes a few moments to clean:
- Remove the stem.
- Scrape off the gills (best to use a small spoon).
- Gently rinse.
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Many recipes suggest roasting mushroom caps as you would most vegetables—by sprinkling them with olive oil, salt, and pepper first. But I've found that it's best to roast them dry when using them as a bread substitute; this helps the portobello caps maintain their structure without getting too soft. They'll generate their own natural juices as they cook, so you don't have to worry about them drying out or becoming too crispy.
However, you should season them immediately after cooking when they're still moist; this will help your seasoning adhere to the mushroom. Here's my tried-and-true method for the best portobello mushroom caps:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place cleaned and dry mushroom caps directly on a clean oven rack.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until tender (they will steam and generate natural juices).
- Remove the caps from the oven and immediately season with salt and pepper.
If you're including a protein in your sandwich such as lunch meat or a burger patty, I suggest placing it on the bottom; the rim of the mushroom cap keeps it in place. You can then add the condiments of your choice on top—cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and whatever else makes your stomach happy.
Portobello sandwiches are also very easy to pack up and enjoy for later if you end up with leftovers: simply cut your sandwich or burger in half, then individually wrap it in either plastic wrap or a sandwich bag. This will prevent it from becoming soggy and unappetizing.
Thanks to portobello mushrooms, you don't have to say goodbye to sandwiches or burgers if you're trying to avoid carbohydrates—or simply trying to eat better. Let us know in the comments if you've tried this helpful tip at home, and what kind of sandwich flavors you've found pair best with its meaty texture.