Cayenne Portobello Burgers with Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

Have you ever had a portobello burger before? Probably.

But have you ever had a cayenne portobello burger with herbed goat cheese?

 Cayenne Portobello Burgers with Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

Ohhh my goodness. There’s really nothing like it.

I have a lot of firsthand experience with portobello burgers and sandwiches that are pretty “meh.” Ordering one at a restaurant really seems to be a toss-up: it’s either mind-blowingly delicious or flavorless and underwhelming. Well, I have the antidote to flavorless and underwhelming: cayenne + goat cheese.

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Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

Remember when I didn’t eat cheese for 6 months?


Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

Sorry, former vegan self. Sorry but I’m not sorry. I ate a lot of cheese this weekend, and it tasted reeeeally good.

I’ve actually been craving this dish for a few weeks, since a co-worker brought in some buffalo chicken casserole for lunch. As she warmed up her leftovers in the microwave and the smell wafted through the kitchen, it was alllll I wanted.

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

I had brought a salad.

Major food envy.

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

I knew I had to recreate it for you guys ASAP. My one hesitation to go out of town last weekend was that I’d have to wait an extra week to bring this dish to life! Such hardships :) Luckily, that gave me an extra week to fantasize and brainstorm… making the end result positively perfect.

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

Nate agrees. That’s him going back for seconds.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call this dish healthy, but it is vegetarian – come on, aren’t those synonymous?! It’s loaded with veggies, replacing 1/2 the pasta and all of the chicken that would be used in a regular buffalo chicken casserole. It’s just cheesy enough to be indulgent, but still loaded with nutrients.

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

It’s like a cross between buffalo chicken, mac and cheese, and veggie pasta dish. Also known as…the tastiest thing ever. For real. I don’t think I have to try too hard to convince you on this one.

Guess who’s going to have the jealousy-inducing leftovers for lunch this week?!

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake |

Boyfriend-Approved Buffalo Veggie Pasta Bake

Serves 6


For pasta:

1/2 lb whole wheat pasta

1/2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

sprinkle of ground black pepper

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 lb Brussels sprouts, sliced (about 5 cups sliced)

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened milk of your choice)

2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided (4-5 oz.)

1/2 cup hot sauce such as Frank’s RedHot

To top:

3-4 green onions, thinly sliced

additional hot sauce

1 recipe lightened up blue cheese dressing


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cook pasta in a large pot until slightly al dente. Drain and return to pot. Set aside.

Next, saute your vegetables. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add garlic, onion, and carrots, season with ground pepper, and saute until soft, 9-10 minutes. (The carrots will not soften up much in the oven, so you want to get them to your desired softness on the stovetop.) Add the mushrooms and saute 3 minutes more, then add the Brussels sprouts and saute another 2 minutes. Pour vegetables into the pot with the pasta and scrape pan clean.

Now prepare the roux. In the same pan, melt the butter. Stir in flour and let bubble 1-2 minutes. Stir in the milk. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5-7 minutes. Add 1 cup of the grated cheese and stir to melt. Stir in hot sauce. Pour the mixture over the pasta and vegetables and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cup of cheddar cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling. (If cheese starts to burn before 25 minutes, cover the top of the dish with tin foil and continue baking.)

Remove from oven and sprinkle with green onions. Serve in scoops, topped with additional hot sauce and blue cheese dressing.



1 hour


Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach |

Monday was all about cake. Not to give it away, but Friday is going to be all about cookies. And unlike Monday’s cake, Friday’s cookies contain absolutely zero vegetables. So let’s try to squeeze in some green stuff in the meantime, shall we?

Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach |

Look at all that spinach! I feel healthier already.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to do a lot of baking on the weekends. It’s what Nate calls my “wake and bake” (hah) – scones, cakes, muffins, etc. If we haven’t destroyed all the sweets by the time Sunday night rolls around, I try to bring them into work and pawn them off on my unsuspecting co-workers on Monday morning. They think I’m being generous, but really I’m just trying to get all the butter and sugar out of my house before I go back for more. By mid-week, I’m (hopefully) back to my healthy weekday routine of veggies, gym, and yoga.

And that’s where these portobellos come in! Last summer I discovered the portobello/pesto combination and fell in love. And while I eagerly await summertime basil (like, reeeeally eagerly), I figured I’d make a different but equally tasty citrus pesto.

Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach |

This was my first time using meyer lemons! My regular grocery store doesn’t have them, so I trudged out in a snowstorm the other day to pick some up from another nearby store. And I’ve have to say it was worth it! They are so pretty.

Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach |

If you can’t find meyer lemons, you could use a regular lemon here. Because the rind is much thicker, though, I would probably suggest using only the juice and zest, instead of tossing whole chunks of regular lemon in.

For this dish, I spread a layer of lemon pesto on top of the grilled portobello, then topped with spinach and a sprinkling of parmesan and pine nuts. You could also add a quinoa layer (or combine it with the spinach) for a more filling dish. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it would be delicious!

Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach |

Grilled Portobellos with Meyer Lemon Pesto and Spinach

Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side


For the meyer lemon pesto:

1 meyer lemon

1 small clove garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 tsp honey

sprinkle of salt and pepper

For the grilled portobellos:

4 portobello mushrooms

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 small cloves garlic

10 oz. fresh spinach leaves

handful of toasted pine nuts

sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375. Break the stems off the portobello caps, and clean each cap with a damp paper towel. I prefer to leave the gills in, but you can scrape them out if you wish. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes with the gills facing up, then turn gills face down for another 5 minutes.

While the mushrooms are cooking, make the pesto. If using a meyer lemon, cut it into chunks and remove the seeds, then toss the entire chunks into the food processor. (If using a regular lemon, add only the zest and juice of the lemon to the food processor.) Blend with the rest of the pesto ingredients, scraping the sides with a spatula occasionally, until smooth.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, saute the garlic for 30 seconds to a minute. Add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and saute until wilted and bright green.

To assemble, spread a layer of lemon pesto inside each mushroom. Pile 1/4 of the spinach into the mushroom cap and top with a sprinkle of extra parmesan and pine nuts.



35 minutes

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