Do you know why vegan cooks are so creative? I think it’s because we’re constantly being tempted by interesting dishes on restaurant menus that are “vegan except for.” You know, the chickpea appetizer that is vegan–except for chicken broth. Or the hash browns that are vegan–except they’re cooked on a griddle alongside bacon. Or the portobello fries that are vegan–except for buttermilk.
Going out to eat and having one vegan-looking dish after another turn out to contain just one (usually unnecessary) non-vegan ingredient is enough to make some people throw up their hands and vow to do all their own cooking. I look at it as a challenge (I can usually get the kitchen to make something vegan for me) and as a source of inspiration. Portobello fries sound good; therefore, I will find a way to make them not only vegan but also oil-free. Take that, restaurants of the world!
I noticed portobello fries on the menus of two local restaurants recently, one of which served it with Spicy Horseradish Comeback Dressing and declared “Taste why so many other restaurants try to copy our signature appetizer.” Hmmm, I thought. Horseradish comeback dressing sounds delicious, and if everyone else is copying it, why shouldn’t I? Since I haven’t actually tasted any portobello fries, I looked to non-vegan blogs to learn how they’re usually made and found an easily veganizable recipe at Inspired Taste.
I’ve made baked portobello fries a few times now, enough to feel comfortable enough to do it on a video so that you can see how easy (but messy) it is:
There’s one possibly unfamiliar word in the video and recipe, and that is “aquafaba.” That’s just fancy Latin for “bean water.” It’s the cooking liquid from a can or pot of chickpeas, and it makes a great substitute for egg in this recipe, especially if you chill it first so it gets thick. If you haven’t been saving your bean water, you can still make the recipe using soy milk or other non-dairy milk, but I recommend adding a little flax or chia as a thickener.
Oil-Free Baked Portobello Fries
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup aquafaba, soy milk, or other non-dairy milk (see notes)
- 1 cup panko or other dried breadcrumbs
- 1-2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Trim the stalks of the mushrooms. If desired, you can scrape out the gills (but I find the mushrooms break easily and doing this doesn’t make much difference). Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick.
- Put the flour, aquafaba (or other liquid), and panko into shallow plates. Dredge a mushroom slice in the flour, coat with aquafaba, and then press into the breadcrumbs, making sure it’s completely covered. Place on lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining mushrooms.
- Bake at 425 until crispy on the outside but still tender inside, about 12-15 minutes. You may turn the fries over halfway through if you want them extra crispy.
- Serve with Horseradish Comeback Sauce, below. They also make a great portobello burger.
Aquafaba is the liquid from cooked or canned beans (usually chickpeas). It makes a great substitute for egg in this recipe, especially if you let it refrigerate it beforehand (it's thicker and more egg-like cold). Soy milk, almond milk, and other non-dairy milks also work, but they work better with a little flax seed meal added to make them thicker. Try adding 1/2 teaspoon of ground flax and allow to thicken for a few minutes.
If your bread crumbs are seasoned, use less Creole seasoning to avoid over-salting.
The last time I made portobello fries, I skipped the dipping and used them as the filling on a portobello burger. So good! The Horseradish Comeback Sauce makes a spicy replacement for both ketchup and mayo.
This version of Comeback Sauce is easier, less “wholefoodsie” than the vegan comeback dressing I posted previously. I gave in and just used ketchup instead of several separate ingredients. If you’ve been making Onion Cream, here’s a great opportunity to use it. It adds a sweetness and depth of flavor that the soy milk version lacks (but then again, using soy milk is so much easier!)
Horseradish Comeback Sauce
- 1/2 cup Onion Cream (or soy milk, see notes below)
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown or Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chia or ground flax seeds
- hot sauce to taste
- Whisk all ingredients except hot sauce together in a small bowl and allow to stand several minutes to thicken. Add hot sauce to taste. Flavor will deepen and develop over time.
You can make this using soy milk instead of onion cream, but you will need to add 1/4 teaspoon onion powder for flavor and at least 1 teaspoon of ground flax or chia seeds for thickening. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.