Scootch over, gentlemen. It’s grilling season and this girl likes to play with fire.
I’m terrified of fire and wasn’t even brave enough to light matches until I was in my late 20’s.
But, now … grrrrr! … I am woman, I create fire, I cook grub over smoky heat!
(And me and super long fireplace matches are BFFs.)
All kidding aside (although it really did take two decades to learn how to strike matchbook matches — I’d strike the head and then jerk my arm away in alarm — fire! fingers! — extinguishing the flame), I do grill. A lot.
Everything tastes better from the grill. Even desserts (grilled blueberry crumble coming up when the blueberries ripen). But my favorite foods to grill — heads-up, guys, blasphemy is nigh — are vegetables. Smoky heat does amazing things to just about anything you can pull from the ground or pluck from a vine (with the obvious advantage of not heating up the kitchen in the steamy days of August).
On impulse, I added a handful of sugar snap peas — growing in abundance near the grill — as a crunchy side dish for a quickie lunch break from yard work (and a worthy repeat of the previous nights’ dinner for four — even meat-eaters give thumbs-up to grilled portabella mushrooms).
As an aside, a good quality vegetable basket was the best grilling tool purchase I made last year. This model, with perforations in a solid surface rather than bars wired or woven together, means even the smallest morsel stays put, while letting in smoky BBQ goodness.
These tacos are super simple and can be embellished with your favorite toppings. Balsamic-marinated grilled mushrooms and onions with a splotch of avocado lime crema hit the spot for me and mine. I hope they do the same for you and yours.
Grilled Portabella Tacos with Avocado Lime Crema
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or sub red wine vinegar, if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil (or fresh, finely chopped)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced into quarters or half moons
4 portabella mushroom caps, stems removed
8 whole wheat flour tortillas
salt and pepper to taste
avocado lime crema (recipe below)
1. Prepare your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. (Optional, but very nice, add soaked wood chips to the charcoal or smoker box. Or wrap chips in a foil packet, pierce several times and place on coals or near heat source.) Oil a vegetable basket or grate and place on the grill rack to heat.
2. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, basil and a big dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion slices and toss to coat. Allow to marinate while the grill heats.
3. Use tongs to transfer the onions from marinade to the vegetable basket. Brush the tops of the mushroom caps with some of the marinade left in the bowl and place tops down in the basket (or directly on the grill grate). Marinate the gill-side of the mushrooms with the remaining marinade.
4. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning. Check the mushrooms for grill marks and when they appear, flip them over. Cook until the mushrooms have softened and begun releasing their liquids.
5. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the grill. Slice the mushrooms into thin strips.
6. Soften the tortillas by stacking them on a plate, covering with a wet paper towel, and steaming in the microwave on high for 30-40 seconds.
7. Spoon some onions and mushrooms into a tortilla and top with avocado lime crema.
Avocado Lime Crema
1 avocado, peeled, pit removed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup sour cream (low fat)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (fat free)
1 palmful cilantro leaves, thick stems removed
juice from one lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides occasionally as needed. Can be served right away but the flavors will benefit from an hour or so in the refrigerator.
(This recipe will yield more than you’ll need for the tacos, but will keep in the fridge for several days and can be spooned into grainy salads or on to fish.)