Grilled portobello salmon sandwich

Grilled Portobello Sandwich with Salmon and Onion

The heat of a SABER® grill is perfect for cooking this grilled portobello sandwich to perfection. Add a salmon, sweet onion and cheese for more flavor.

This dish was written for SABER Grills by Chef Chris Koetke of Let’s Dish.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to eat a lot of different foods as a sandwich. Perhaps eating on the go (and often while walking) is a throw-back to restaurant days, but the point is I love sandwiches. There is just something irresistible about that perfect combination of ingredients nestled between layers of bread.

grilled portobella sandwich

The idea for this sandwich started with another long-time favorite—grilled portobello mushrooms. While I am not a vegetarian, when I do want to lay off the animal protein a bit, I am drawn to portobellos. They are big, meaty, and full of rich flavor. On the grill, they are even better as they benefit tremendously from some serious char marks and a healthy dose of smoke.

Having said that, I have also eaten grilled portobello caps that do not achieve this heady flavor profile. The reason? The grill was not hot enough to do the job. Portobellos, like many other mushrooms, contain a lot of water. If the grill is not searingly hot, the mushroom caps simply cannot brown. This is where the intensity of the infrared grilling of the Saber® grill really shows its stuff—hot like the grills in professional kitchens.

grilled portobella

Another one of the strengths of the Saber® grill is that you can easily adjust the heat when you don’t need it at full throttle. The sandwich recipe below takes full advantage of this. The sweet onions do not require super high heat as their sugars will burn before the cook fully. Similarly, after the sandwiches are assembled and wrapped in aluminum foil, they are returned to the grill to lightly crisp the bread and heat the sandwich through. This is where you really want to control the heat and deliver it lovingly as opposed to fast and furious. Again, accurate heat control is everything.

One last note before moving to the recipe. I have always wondered why so many chefs counsel to scrape out the gills from the portobello caps before grilling them. Perhaps they think that the dark color is unattractive? I simply don’t get it. After you cook the portobello caps, try the gills on their own. They’re delicious and have a great full-bodied taste. So, in my humble opinion, never remove the gills. They are beautiful and delicious!


  • 4 large portabello caps, stem removed
  • 1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla, Vidalia, etc.), peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 pieces French bread segments, 6-8 inches long
  • 6 heaping tablespoons pesto (purchased or prepared according to recipe below)
  • 3 oz smoked salmon (can be the thinly sliced, cold smoke variety, or chunks of hot smoked product)
  • Hot sauce (to taste)
  • 4-5 oz grated mozzarella


  • Brush both sides of the portabellos and mushrooms with oil. Season them lightly with salt and pepper. (It is important to season lightly with salt as there is plenty of salt in the other ingredients.)
  • Grill the portabellos over high heat so as to develop deep char marks on both sides of the caps. When they are softened (about 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the caps) remove from the grill.
  • Grill the onions over moderate heat. Allow char marks to develop on both sides slowly. The onions are sufficiently cooked when they are significantly softened as this will develop their inherent sweetness. Remove from the grill.
  • Cut each portabello cap on the bias and into 3-4 slices.
  • Cut the bread lengthwise so that it is still attached at one side. Coat the cut surfaces with pesto sauce.
  • Layer the mushrooms, onions, smoked salmon, and cheese inside the sandwich. Sprinkle with hot sauce as desired.
  • Wrap each sandwich tightly in aluminum foil.
  • Place the sandwiches on the Saber grill on low heat. Turn the sandwiches every 4-5 minutes. After approximately 15 minutes the sandwiches should be ready to serve. Unwrap and eat them piping hot.

pesto portobella sandwich

Pesto Recipe

This recipe will make more than is needed for the sandwich recipe above.  Keep the remainder refrigerated until needed.


  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Place basil, olive oil, and pine nuts in a food processor or blender. Purée until all the ingredients are ground into a paste.
  2. Remove from the food processor or blender and stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

portobello sandwich with hot sauce

grilled portobello sandwich

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