Our favorite vegan restaurant is definitely Native Foods, Costa Mesa. We live only about 10 minutes (freeway drive) from it. We visit this restaurant so often about once or twice a week. Yes, we are Native Food addicts. There are 4 Native Foods restaurants in Southern California and they are planning to open more. In this blog I will share how I reproduced their dish, Portabella "Sausage" Burger, at home
Before I start talking about this dish, I want to take this opportunity to share about the new vegan store called Humanitaire that was just opened. About 20 feet away from Native Foods front doors, we can hop into a vegan store that sells vegan shoes, handbags, belts, make up, T-shirts, jewelry, etc. etc. All items they sell are sweatshop-free stuff. How cool is that? It is hard to get vegan shoes on-line because I can't try it on. Vegan shopping was really not my priority but now it is getting up there because of this store. I bought 2 pair of shoes in 1 visit. Ouch! If you live in Southern California, please drop by.
One of my favorite dishes in Native Foods is the Portabella "Sausage" Burger. It is a grilled "sausage" seitan topped with balsamic glazed portabella mushrooms, Italian salsa, pesto, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, and green lettuce. The flavors of the items in this sandwich just burst into your mouth and the combination of the flavors is a match made in heaven.
Many times I thought about recreating this dish at home. I finally did it. I started by roasting garlic in my onion/garlic baker(pictured). If you don't have one, I recommend it. If you don't want to buy one, you can roast them in a roasting pan, covered with foil. You can roast whole garlics or individually peeled. I live so close to a Korean market who sells peeled garlic by pounds so it is so convenient to buy peeled garlic and roast them at home. I put 1 cup of peeled garlic, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and 1/4 tsp. dry red chili pepper, mixed them all together, then baked in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. I put a lot of oil on purpose (sometimes I use 1/2 cup of olive oil). The purpose is to save the oil after I drained the roasted garlic. I called it garlic oil and used it for cooking other stuff. Garlic olive oil is ultimately delicious.
Here is the picture of the ingredients I put in this sandwich. They are (from top left clockwise) balsamic vinegar glazed sliced portabella mushrooms, Italian salsa, caramelized onion, and basil and walnut pesto. It took time to make these although each one was easy. It was well worth it though.
I also make my own seitan sausage, adapting Bryanna's Soy and Seitan 'Pork' Tenderloin with my own sausage spices. The recipe will probably be in the next Vegan Feast since Bryanna has asked me to submit it as a Reader's Recipe. Making the balsamic vinegar glazed portabella mushrooms was easy. I sliced portabella mushroom and sauteed them with garlic oil (from roasting the garlic) until the mushrooms were darkened and all the juices were almost gone. Then, I added 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon soy sauce to the pan. The juices evaporated right away and the mushrooms were glazed.
Making the caramelized onions was easy too. Again, start with the garlic oil, I sauteed sliced onions in it and cooked them slowly until the onions were translucent and darkened. I also added a little bit of soy sauce (about 1 tsp) and 1 tsp. maple syrup. The Basil and Walnut Pesto was also easy to make. Put about 2-3 cups packed fresh basil in your food processor, add about 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (or pine nuts), add 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil, add some roasted garlic (about 6 to 8), salt to taste, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon light miso, then, run the processor or pulse it until a pesto paste is form. For the Italian salsa, I combined chopped tomatoes, chopped kalamata olives, chopped roasted garlic, chopped parsley/fresh basil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Pictured above is how the sandwich was assembled. On the bottom half of the bun , I put caramelized onions, then the grilled seitan "sausage", then topped with glazed portabella mushrooms, then piled with Italian salsa, then topped with basil and walnut pesto. On the top half of the bun was chopped green lettuce.
Combine, squeeze, and bite into it! Hhhmm hhmmm hhmmm hhmmm! In one bite, you said 4 hhmmms, it must be good, DH said. It was very very good. It is definitely cheaper to make it at home and is very satisfying to know that I can reproduce it.