Depending on the day, making something fresh for dinner ranges from easy to impossible. Sometimes, I hit a wall and just taking a head of cauliflower from the fridge, chopping it, and throwing it in the oven feels completely undoable. Other days, nothing feels too complicated and dinner is a breeze.
Lately, I have a bit of help in the more-doable-dinners department: The Love and Lemons Cookbook by the talented duo behind the Love and Lemons blog, Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Matthews. In this beautiful, useful book, Jeanine shares her signature take on fresh, approachable vegetarian food rendered in Jack’s vibrant, unfussy photos. Each page offers inspiration and encouragement, and the variations and flexibility real home cooks need to make dinner happen right there in the moment with the things they have on hand. I love flipping through the pages, arranged alphabetically by vegetable, and dreaming of all the fresh dinners I’ll make throughout the year.
At the end of the book is perhaps my favorite part – cooking charts. Jeanine provides basic formulas and four variations on staples like pesto, hummus, guacamole, salsa, and smoothies. After that, pages of basics including grain cooking ratios, pizza dough, and essential sauces and dressings mean you’ll never be left searching for quinoa cooking proportions again.
I’m thrilled to be giving away a copy of The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking to one of our readers. To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite way to get dinner on the table when the odds – be it time, actual groceries, or motivation – are stacked against you. One reader will be selected at random on Wednesday, April 27 at noon EDT. (Giveaway open to US residents only, please.)
Now, about these mushroom burgers. They’re cooked in a grill pan with a simple mix of balsamic and soy sauce (an amazing combination) and slathered with a vivid cilantro pepita pesto. I’d never thought to make pesto with cilantro and was floored by its deliciousness. To say it’s bright or zesty doesn’t do it justice. As with so many of the recipes in The Love and Lemons Cookbook, Jeanine achieves perfect flavors with simple techniques.
A few notes: Jeanine’s recipe calls for smaller mushrooms than I could find, so instead of sliders, these are burgers. For crunch and color, I added a batch of quick-pickled onions (recipe here) and served a simply dressed kale salad on the side.
- For the Pepita Pesto
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1/2 cup raw, hulled pepitas
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled, and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- drizzle of honey (optional)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the Portobello Burgers
- 4 4-inch wide portobello mushrooms (or 8 small ones)
- extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- tamari, for drizzling
- 4 hamburger buns (or 8 slider buns), toasted
- 1 red onion, sliced thick and quick-pickled (recipe here)
- 1/4 cup micro greens or young leafy greens
- freshly ground black pepper
- To make the pesto, combine cilantro, pepitas, lemon juice, and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Drizzle in olive oil and honey (if using) and add salt and pepper to taste. Pesto will keep well covered in the fridge for 3 days.
- To make the burgers, heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.
- Prepare mushrooms by removing stems and cleaning caps with a damp cloth or paper towel. Place mushrooms in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tamari, and pepper. Toss until well coated. (I use my hands to rub it all over until they are fully coated on both sides.)
- Place mushrooms, gill side down, on grill or grill pan. Cook about 10 minutes per side, or until mushrooms are tender.
- Place mushrooms on toasted buns and top each with quick-pickled onions, greens, and a generous slather of pepita pesto.
Disclosure: A copy of The Love and Lemons Cookbook was given to me by the publisher. As always, all opinions and praise for this beautiful book are my own.