The Portabella


In 2005, we enjoyed an amazing portabella sandwich at a little bistro called The Village Corner, in the beautiful town of Carmel, California. In the years since, Mark and I have tried to find its equal, only to be disappointed with lack of flavor and inferior bread. Eventually we gave up the search and decided to start making them at home. They always make me think of that lovely day we had in Carmel, California.

Now, if only my view measured up…

  • Makes: 2 Sandwiches
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 2 bakery-style buns like Focaccia Buns
Set aside. Exceptional bread is essential to this sandwich.
  • 1/4 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
Set aside. Dressing adds robust flavor to this veggie sandwich.
  Place oven rack just below center; start preheating to 425°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.
  • 2 portabella mushrooms
Place on a quarter sheet pan.

Tip: Select mushrooms whose caps have not separated from the stems; brush off any soil with a pastry brush. Remove stems. If desired, scrape out the dark gills with a spoon. 
Washing mushrooms makes them slimy.
  • 2 slices from the middle of a large (4-inch) onion
Add slices to the sheet pan, rings intact.

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Peel off layers that are dry or tough; discard. Set a rounded side down and cut four 1/4-inch slices from the middle, holding the pieces 2
Big slices stay in place on the assembled sandwich.
  • 2 sides of a red bell pepper
Set on end, slice off all four sides; add to the sheet pan. Use 2/3 of dressing to brush all surfaces of mushrooms, onion and pepper.Return to sheet pan in a single layer, with the portabella and pepper facing skin sides up. Roast until pepper skins thin and start to bubble (15-20 minutes). Remove from oven to brush with reserved dressing.  Reserving some of the dressing for brushing after roasting imparts a fresh punch of flavor. It is critical.
  • 8 large spinach or sweet basil leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
Layer the insides of each sandwich in the following order: 2 spinach leaves, 1 portabella, 2 onion slices, black pepper, 2 bell pepper slices and 2 more spinach leaves. Sprinkling black pepper directly over the onion is essential for flavor.