(UPDATED COVERAGE June 23) Just in time for grilling season, the Mushroom Council and TV personality Mr. Food have created a meatless substitute for the summer cookouts.

Mr. Food featured the recipe for grilled meatless mushroom sliders in a recent segment.

The recipe features portabella mushrooms, sliced tomatoes and red onions with balsamic vinaigrette and other flavorings, grilled and served on rolls. The council also released a video featuring the recipe, presenting it as a low-calorie alternative to grilled burgers.

“One of our objectives was to recognize that there are so many more flexitarians today,” said Joe Caldwell, chairman of the Mushroom Council. “People are not looking to be vegetarian necessarily, but to be flexible and to consider cutting out meat one day a week — maybe a meatless Monday, which we see a lot of.”

More grilling recipes for mushrooms are online at www.mushroominfo.com.

“This time of year, grilling is prime time,” said Caldwell, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms. “We normally do see a significant increase in portabella sales for summer. But we show a lot of recipes with grilled white button mushrooms as well.”

When they picture button mushrooms grilled, consumers often think kebabs. But that’s not the only recipe, nor are buttons the only variety to work on a kebab, Caldwell said.

“What we’re seeing a lot more of is all vegetables — carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms — with just a (little) olive oil, thrown on the grill, have a tremendous flavor,” he said.

The other objective of the recipe offerings is to suggest the versatility of the commodity.

“The word ‘versatility’ doesn’t do enough to describe mushrooms,” Caldwell said. “Low-carb, low-fat, diabetic, weight control, heart health, low-sodium, low-sugar, low-calorie — it works with all of them.”

In Mr. Food, the council reached for a well-recognized name.

“Mr. Food has been out there for more than 30 years,” Caldwell said. “He’s an icon. His recipes are quick and easy and meet the standard for time-conscious food that is very tasty. It’s a good partnership for this summer.”

The council and Mr. Food plan to showcase two more recipes in September. The recipes have not yet been finalized.

“We need to get more ideas out to the consumer so they can imagine a little bit more,” Caldwell said.

The Mushroom Council is asking retailers to discount mushrooms by more than 25% when on promotion. Other recommendations include promoting packaged and bulk mushrooms together, featuring multiple varieties in the same advertisement, and including a white mushroom with ads for brown, specialty and dried mushrooms.

The council also suggests that recipes be included in mushroom and grilling displays.