Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas with Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo and Purple Basil & White Peppercorn Mayo

I'm not just white, I'm saltine cracker soaked in soy milk white. I like Scrabble. And musicals. And scarves...plaid scarves. Whenever I attempt to make an ethnic dish, I feel like I'm doing something dirty. How dare I tread on another culture's territory because my skin reflects more light than quartz during a solar eclipse.

Despite my pasty facade, I'm not much of an American foodie. I love delving into the realm of ethnic cooking. I love experiencing the different spices, flavors, aromas and sensations of satiety. I absolutely love Mexican food, but rarely post the recipes I write because I simply feel like it's not my territory. I grew up incredibly north of the border in Youngstown, old steel town now governed by mobsters and crack whores. It truly is a great place to raise a family.
It's also a great place to eat.

For as far back as I can remember, there's always been an endless amount of amazing Italian food. Up until I was 13, though, the only options for Mexican were "Taco Bell" and "Chi Chi's".
Did I mention "Chi Chi's" is hispanic slang for big titties? No thank you.

EDIT [Note to self: Did I really say "No thank you" to big titties? Big self-slap on the hand, Jenn. Tsk, tsk.]

Then, all of a sudden, Cancun appeared on the scene in the late 90s. It was delicious. It was authentic. You could eat a full meal for less than you make in an hour working minimum wage in Ohio. Their chips were free and always fresh. The margaritas are amazing, which I was able to discover at quite an early age due to their lax ID policy.

Ok...there was a slight catch. They may have been shut down once (or twice) for health code violations. I don't eat animals, so I figure I escaped danger. But on the plus side, they always re-open with a vengeance! You've gotta respect their determination.

Enjoy making the tortas! They rock socks.

Also, if you missed my post a few weeks ago...NOW IS YOUR CHANCE! Take advantage of my friend Trevor's amazing program:

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5) Charter membership in The Association of Thriving Vegetarians.

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Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas with Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo and Purple Basil & White Peppercorn Mayo

Cumin and Avocado Oil Rubbed Portobello Tortas
  • 4 Portobello Mushroom caps, halved
  • 3 TBSP Avocado Oil, plus more for grill pan
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBSP Dry White Wine
  • Shredded Vegan Mozzarella (use Daiya if possible), amount of your choice

Whisk together the avocado oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub of each piece of Portobello with the oil mixture to coat on both sides.

Drizzle enough Avocado Oil to coat the bottom of the grill pan (about 1-2 tsp), and heat over medium high.

Grill the portobellos on each side until browned and softened, about 4-5 minutes per side, adding the white wine about half-way through the cooking process to deglaze the pan. Top with vegan mozzarella for the last few minutes so that it has time to melt.

Use the "Other Sandwich Incidentals" listed below to build your Torta. Feel free to get creative and add whatever fixins you enjoy. I assemble mine like so:

1. Bottom half of roll
2. Romaine
3. Portobello with Cheese
4. Dragon Fruit Salsa

5. Purple Basil Mayo, smeared on top half of roll
6. Top half of roll

Other Sandwich Incidentals...
4 Torta Rolls (or Kaiser Rolls), sliced like a hamburger bun
Romaine Lettuce
Purple Basil Mayo (recipe follows)
Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo (recipe follows)

Purple Basil Mayo
  • 1 cup tightly packed Purple (Opal) Basil Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 1/2 tsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground White Peppercorns

Combine all the above ingredients, in order, in a food processor. Blend until the basil leaves are finely minced and the mixture is fully combined. Add salt if desired.

Dragon Fruit Pico de Gallo
  • 1 small or 1/2 large Dragon Fruit, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 Radishes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • The juice of 1/2 Lime, or more if desired
  • A touch of Salt and Pepper, to taste
Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Sparingly use salt and pepper if adding before tasting. You want just a hint of sweetness from the dragon fruit.


quarrygirl said...

i think i am gonna make this with some beautiful la brea bakery bread. nommers.

BTW, where i grew up there was a PIZZA PLACE called chi chi's! it's still there. ha.

The Voracious Vegan said...

You are a GENIUS! This looks SO good, I love intense super sandwiches. I can't wait to make this, you've included so many things that are just my favorite thing. THANK YOU!

Sophia said...

You are always so creative!
That looks so yummy, what a neat idea.

And BTW I want to lick the picture of that lasagna.

Debra said...

looks amazing!

Jes said...

Dragon fruit pico de gallo?! I'm in love!!! Anything in sandwich form gets my stamp of awesomeness, but this one looks rad. So simple to make but so beautiful!

Unknown said...

Sounds Delicious!

Mihl said...

Dragonfruit pico de gallo? Crazy, but in a good way!

Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

I don't remembre what I ate the one time I went to Youngstown w/ my mom 14 years ago, but I do remember that we went to the country club w/ my great aunt. Whatever I managed to find, it certainly wasn't as creative or delicious as the dishes you create.

iRaw said...

Damn! This looks fantastic...I need to get some portobello mushroom.

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

Hiya! Did you have to get a license or anything to make and sell your vegan twinkies? or do you use a commercial kitchen?

I'd like to make baked goods at home for my local coffee shop, but I'm not sure what I'd have to do to make it legal.

Any answers are greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...


Christina Blue said...

YES! I LOVE Tortas. I ate them all the time before my vegan days when I lived on the corner of the Mexican ghetto. This looks awesome.

Christina Blue said...

PS: I'm probably just dumb and just missed it, but what kind of meat substitute did you use for your short ribs? Just plain seitan?

Anonymous said...

I'm on a bit of a portobello kick lately, and this is going into the rotation. Great flavor combo, isn't it?

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

DAMN, hook a girl up with a torta, will ya?!