Kimberleypin it!VIBRANT FOODpin it!building some banh mi // the first messpin it!

My favourite cookbooks either take me somewhere or challenge me in a new way. I think this is true for films, books, music etc. as well, but it has to be most especially true with cookbooks because frankly, I have too many. And if I’m makin’ space in my new shelf-y kitchen cabinet JUST for this sort of thing, or I’m aiming to cook with some serious intention from a new perspective, that possible new cookbook better be damn good.

This is just my point of view though. Once you’ve cooked for a while and made a serious effort to be around food in a professional setting, recipes begin to feel almost pointless. Almost. Certain books and audiences need them though. Baking is a good example here. But in a big picture-kind of sense, I’m more vested in the how of recipes and dishes, the cook’s philosphy and how they arrived at this full page photo and accompanying blurb. How many recipes for kale salad does one really need?! When an author goes beyond the recipes and makes you feel something or tells you their story in some way, it’s a whole other thing. Doors open, your vision expands and you think about new things that are possible. The book inspires you to the point where you can think a bit differently.

I’ve had Kimberley Hasselbrink’s book VIBRANT FOOD in my possession for about two weeks, and can safely say it’s one of those inspiring, thought-shifting kind of cookbooks that takes you somewhere. Maybe you read her blog The Year In Food and you already had a hunch that this could be possible? It’s organized by season and then further broken down by an almost micro-seasonal consideration by item. There’s a section on flowers for spring, herbs + greens for summer, tree fruits in fall, and hardy root vegetables in the winter segment, among many others. You get a sense of each season’s flavour and vibe through Kimberley’s photography and thoughtfully approached recipes.

I never thought to put squash blossoms in a quesadilla or to roll chocolate truffles in bee pollen, or to even approach a Japanese-style curry with kabocha squash and soba noodles. There’s some bangin’ renditions of more classic fare as well, like smoky red pepper soup and a shredded brussels sprouts salad with apples + pecans. All really good and beautiful things that could inspire anyone, at whatever level, to cook at home.

The first recipe I tried was a riff on her salmon banh mi sandwiches, with some portobello mushrooms instead. The whole time I was making it, it dawned on me how realistic it would have been for me to fix up something like this for dinner. You get your pickled veg going and the portobellos marinating a bit. You stir up a little mayo, clean some herbs and prep the bread. A minor bit of stove time and assembly leads to a most gratifying sandwich experience. There’s a sour-fresh crunch from the vegetables, the portobellos are meaty to the point of “Wait, really?!” and the mayo! It’s all fresh lemon and garlicky-ness, and it’s crucial for waterproofing (yes, that’s the term I’m using) that light baguette. I could see this as some sort of salad scenario with tons of fresh herbs in the mix with the lettuce and the portobellos all grilled and sliced on top. You could thin the mayonnaise with some of the pickling liquid for a solid dressing, and then make some baguette croutons to finish it off. See what I mean by a book showing you a new way to think?

High fives, Kimberley. It’s a beaut :)

kitchen bookshelf // the first messpin it!VIBRANT FOODpin it!VIBRANT FOODpin it!banh mi fixinpin it!dat vegeanaise // the first messpin it!portobello banh mi + pickled veg from VIBRANT FOOD // the first messpin it!portobello banh mi + pickled veg from VIBRANT FOOD // the first messpin it!
portobello banh mi with pickled vegetables

lightly adapted (but barely) from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink
serves: 4
notes: If you aren’t a mushroom person (WHAAAA??), tempeh or tofu would be so great here. I could even see some grilled pieces of eggplant as a decent replacement. Also, Grace has a particularly yummy looking version of vegetarian banh mi with sweet potatoes! Lastly, I used Vegenaise for the garlic aïoli, mostly out of ease (TRUTH BOMB: I would stock a case of the soy free at all times if I was a billionaire), but you could do a pine nut or cashew variation from the archives :)

pickled vegetable slaw ingredients:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup natural sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 medium carrots, julienned
2 big radishes OR 1/3 of a daikon radish, sliced paper thin
1/2 english cucumber, julienned

aïoli ingredients:
1/2 cup Vegenaise/other plant-friendly mayo
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp lemon zest
squeeze of lemon juice

banh mi ingredients:
4-6 portobello mushrooms caps (depending on size), cleaned
2 tbsp maple syrup OR dark agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt + pepper
1 baguette (French, Vietnamese or a GF one, depending on your need or what you can find)
big handful of cilantro leaves
equal handful of thai basil OR mint leaves
thin slices of chili (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white vinegar, cane sugar and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Place the julienned and sliced cucumber, radish and carrots into the bowl and toss them/submerge them in the vinegar mixture. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Drain when ready to use.

In a small bowl, stir together the Vegenaise, minced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Cut the portobello mushroom caps into quarters and set aside.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the maple syrup/dark agave, tamari, sriracha, minced garlic and a hearty splash of warm water. Add some salt and pepper if you like. Place the quartered portobellos in the sriracha mix and let them sit for 15-20 minutes or so, flipping them over here and there.

Heat some oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place the portobello quarters into the pan and let them brown a bit on one side. Flip them over and brown a little more. Pour half of the sriracha marinating mix into the pan and simmer until reduced by at least half. Keep turning the portobello pieces in it. Once the mushrooms are reasonably soft and browned, remove them and place on a plate.

Build the sandwiches! Cut the baguette into 4 equal pieces. Spread the aïoli on both sides of all bread. Divide pickled vegetable slaw among the 4 bottoms of bread. Divide the quarters of portobello among the 4 sandwich bottoms. Place cilantro, mint, and Thai basil leaves on top of the portobellos along with the sliced chili. Place the mayo’d tops on top and enjoy.

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  • Jo from yummyvege12/06/2014 - 6:43 am

    Wow this looks amazing, love the colour sombinations and “meaty” portobellos are making me hungry!ReplyCancel

  • Millie l Add A Little12/06/2014 - 7:09 am

    Yum! These look so delicious – love the sound of the marinade on the mushrooms and I would love to grill them on the bbq!

  • How to Philosophize with Cake12/06/2014 - 7:27 am

    That cookbook DOES sound mind-blowing. Will have to check it out sometime! Love the banh mi with homemade pickled vegetables, that sounds delicious. :)ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan12/06/2014 - 8:34 am

    I’m totally not a mushroom person (I know!), but this still looks amazing, I can’t wait to pick up her book!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique12/06/2014 - 8:43 am

    All I can say is, “Amen, sista!” Love what you say here about cookbooks and recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on Kimberley’s book!ReplyCancel

  • Sini | my blue&white kitchen12/06/2014 - 9:26 am

    You’re such a talented writer; once again, I loved to read your post. I can’t wait to get my hands on Kimberley’s book! It seems like (almost) the whole food blogging community is raving about it. It must be truly stunning. In the meantime, I might make these banh mi which look absolutely delicious! The portobellos sound wonderful; I don’t think I’m going to have a craving to add any meat. Really who need meat when there are this amazing vegetables in the game?ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn12/06/2014 - 10:08 am

    I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy. I’m sure, as you predict, that it’s going to be one of those game-changer cookbooks that changes the way I think about food. I love your interpretation of this recipe too and the way you’ve captured it; it does true justice to Kimberley’s book.ReplyCancel

  • Rachael | Spache the Spatula12/06/2014 - 3:31 pm

    I am a bahn mi junkie, but I’ve never had one with portobello. These look fantastic and I need to be eating one right this second!ReplyCancel

  • shanna mallon12/06/2014 - 4:27 pm

    What a beautiful tribute and a meaningful one. Also girl. YOUR PICTURES! Prettier with every post, I mean it.ReplyCancel

  • […] craving a Bahn Mi with Portobellos and Pickled Vegetables from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Sara13/06/2014 - 6:22 am

    Hi Laura,
    In which culinary school did you go ?

    (Oh, and sorry for my poor English)


    • Laura Wright13/06/2014 - 7:49 am

      Hi Sara! I attended the nutritional culinary program at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario.

  • […] would love to get my hands on one of these portobello bahn mi’s, some of this coconut and pistachio vegan ice cream and a few beer-battered onion […]ReplyCancel

  • Grace13/06/2014 - 10:33 am

    Dang Laura, so fabulous! This is the ultimate summer sandwich, piled high with fresh veg and fragrant herb. Your pictures make me want to grab a sandwich, stand on your porch, chow down and chat about vibrant food!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley13/06/2014 - 12:39 pm

    I love all of this so much. I cannot wait to make your version with portobellos. I love your creativity with food, it’s so inspiring. And I was kinda floored by your words. You rule!ReplyCancel

  • ATasteOfMadness13/06/2014 - 11:19 pm

    Oh my god. I want the book!ReplyCancel

  • kristie @ birchandwild.com14/06/2014 - 8:59 pm

    This looks so delicious. I might have to try to make a gluten free version. The colors of the vegetables really pop in your photos, which are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • […] On enchaîne avec une recette de banh mi vegan qui me fait saliver. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Banh mi with portobellos and pickled vegetables ~ this sounds amazing. […]ReplyCancel

  • Pre17/06/2014 - 4:24 pm

    This looks amazing! So happy to have found your blog. I can’t wait to try this recipe.ReplyCancel

  • alia18/06/2014 - 12:42 pm

    This recipe is what dreams are made of. Would it be ok to pickle the veggies overnight? or are they really only meant for a short pickle period? also, how long might they keep? (i’m dreaming of making a big batch and eating them throughout the week)

    • Laura Wright19/06/2014 - 8:03 am

      Hi Alia, I think you could pickle the veggies overnight if you cut them thicker than what I show in my photos. I only did the julienne strips so that I could have them right away. In Kimberley’s book she recommends draining the pickles once their soft enough and storing them in a covered container in the fridge. I imagine if you cut the vegetables into bigger pieces, you could get away with leaving the pickling liquid while they refrigerate overnight. Hope this helps!

  • Sara27/06/2014 - 4:23 pm

    Oh hi Vibrant Table on your bookshelf :-)ReplyCancel

  • […] banh mi sounds […]ReplyCancel

  • […] green rice salad with nectarines and corn // summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing // grilled halloumi with blueberries // grilled halloumi with strawberries // vegan banh mi […]ReplyCancel

  • annie tucker23/09/2014 - 3:53 pm

    i just got kimberly’s book and i am loving it! her banh mi definitely stuck out so I love seeing your version of it!

    your food is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Simone06/10/2014 - 9:19 pm

    I LOVE this recipe! Made these last night, but sautéed little nut burgers with the same flavors you recommended for marinating the mushrooms PLUS I baked my own Vietnamese baguettes! It was an incredible dinner (albeit 5.5 hours in the making). I feel like my victory is OUR victory. Thanks Laura! High five!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright07/10/2014 - 3:18 pm

      Hey Simone,
      You made your own baguettes too?!! So great! Love that level of commitment and the sound of your version with nut-based burgers. Too cool. Glad it worked out!
      xo LReplyCancel

  • […] First Mess –  Kimberley’s banh mi with portobellos + pickled vegetables […]ReplyCancel

  • Abigail23/02/2015 - 12:42 am

    I have made these sandwiches several times and I love them! I’m not vegan though so I use regular mayo to make the aioli. It’s a fresh, quick light meal- perfect for a weekday night.ReplyCancel

  • […] If you love portobello mushrooms, check out The First Mess recipe for banh mi with portobellos and pickled vegetables. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] modified banh mi, these BBQ tempeh sandwiches, and these Busy Lady Rice Bowls, all by my new hero, Laura, author of […]ReplyCancel

  • Lina13/09/2016 - 7:48 pm

    Great recipe! Just ate these yummy banh mi for dinner. Had one and a half because they were so good. My other half was surprised–we used to get tofu banh mi from a Vietnamese deli in the city before we moved and we have missed them. I followed the recipe here exactly. Superb flavors. Portobello was great. My repertoire has expanded! Can’t wait to try more recipes on your lovely site. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Mikaela Marion14/08/2017 - 12:50 am

    Made these tonight. Just as satisfying as the beef Bahn Mi I used to get from an awesome Vietnamese place in Seattle. I absolutely LOVED this mushroom version, as I recently chose to become a vegetarian.

    I had ordered The First Mess cookbook a few days ago, and am waiting for it to arrive. In the meantime I thought I should check out this blog to get a sneak peak as to what was to come. If the book is full of recipes like this, I will be in HEAVEN!!ReplyCancel

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