June 23, 2011

Veggie Burgers

Burgers made with vegetables, grains, egg and cheese are a great alternative or addition to burgers made with meat. Though it is possible to grill a veggie burger with a good amount of fat and care, they fry up just as easily and taste just as delicious. Most any ingredients can be used for the burger depending upon what flavors are desired but I have found beans create great texture and flavor not to mention additional protein. Veggie burgers are delicious topped with traditional and non-traditional burger toppings and a great with any number of vegetable sides.

Different kind of beans may be used, along with different cheeses and herbs.

½ c cooked black beans

1 c cooked chickpeas

2 eggs

½ c bread crumbs, finely ground

½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped

½ tsp oregano, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely diced

1 scallion, finely diced

½ c cheddar cheese, grated

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1. Place chickpeas and black beans in a food processor and pulse into a course meal. Combine beans, eggs, breadcrumbs, rosemary, oregano, shallot, scallion, cheese, salt and pepper in a medium-mixing bowl. Thoroughly combine ingredients.

2. Form mixture into patties of desired size, depending upon burger preference.

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry patties in batches until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve veggie burgers warm with bread and toppings of choice.

Makes 4-12 patties depending on size of patty

June 19, 2011

Spring Vegetable and Rye Berry Salad

Whole grains are grass seeds, which contain endosperm, bran and cereal germ, as opposed to refined grains that consist of only endosperm, and are a great addition to any diet because they provide more protein and fiber than their refined counterparts. Cooking with whole grains does take some patience, as they require a longer cooking time due to the bran exterior, but whole grains are well worth the extra time on the stove as they have a rich, nutty and earthy flavor. The easiest way to cook whole grains such as rye, wheat or oat berries, is to boil them for 1-2 hours until they are al dente. The cooked berries can then be added to any number of recipes or eaten on their own. Whole grains mixed with vegetables, herbs and cheese make great side salads to keep on hand during the summer, as they can be eaten room temperature or cold and taste delicious with for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Spring vegetable and rye berry salad is delicious with braised lentils and socca.
Peas may be used instead of sugar snap peas. Most grain berries will work in place of rye such as wheat, oat or barley.

2 c cooked rye berries
1 medium new potato, thinly sliced into rounds
1 small leek, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
¼ lb sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half widthwise
¼ lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
½ small red pepper, trimmed and finely diced
1 tbsp parsley, roughly copped
½ c feta
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
leaf lettuce (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove the potatoes from skillet, leaving the oil in the skillet and place them in a medium-mixing bowl.
2. Reduce heat to medium, add red pepper and leeks and sauté until just cooked, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in parsley and set skillet aside.
3. Place the asparagus and peas in a steamer basket with water in a small pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once water boils, remove vegetables from heat and place them in the bowl with the potatoes.
4. Add the rye berries and skillet ingredients to the potatoes and vegetables, gently toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle feta on top or gently toss with salad when serving. Serve salad room temperature or chilled on leaf lettuce if desired.
Serves 3-4

June 11, 2011

Vegetarian Sushi Rolls

With summer just around the corner, all I can seem to think about is food fit for warm weather, eaten at room temperature or chilled. Sushi is just one of those items. Sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish by storing salted fish in a package of fermented rice, which was then thrown away. The Japanese began to eat the rice with the fish and finally contemporary sushi, using vinegar rice instead of fermented rice, was developed as a fast food during the 19th century in Tokyo. Though sushi does take some practice to make well at home, it is well worth the time and effort because it is a beautiful and delicious dish. I find the most difficult step to be the rice, because it requires the most attention and patience, yet becomes easier in time. Burdock and carrot kinpira or mustard green soup taste especially good when served with fresh sushi rolls.

Sushi can be made with any number of fillings including various vegetables and fish, raw or cooked, depending upon preference and availability.

1 c sushi rice

1 c water

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

½ tbsp salt

4 sheets of nori

4 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned into long strips

1 medium bell pepper, trimmed and julienned into long strips

1 avocado, halved and cut lengthwise into ¼" segments

bamboo sushi rolling mat

1. Place rice into a fine strainer and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Place rice and 1 c water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook rice until al dente, about 15 minutes. Once al dente, remove rice from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Do not stir rice during cooking process.

2. Combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Once ingredients are simmering, remove from heat.

3. Place rice in a large bowl, add vinegar mixture and combine thoroughly by folding rice. Allow rice mixture to cool to room temperature before using rice for rolling sushi.

4. Lay a sheet of nori on the rolling mat with the shiny side down. Place ½ c rice on nori. Wet hands and spread rice evenly on mat leaving about a 1 ½" strip of nori uncovered at the top. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sesame seeds evenly over rice.

5. Place desired amount of filling along rice, about 1" from the bottom. Starting from the bottom, use the rolling mat to evening roll the sushi fairly tightly, being careful the filling is rolled into the sushi and the mat is not. Once you have rolled to the edge of the remaining strip of nori, wet the edge and finish rolling the sushi. When the sushi is completely rolled, gently squeeze the sushi so it does not fall apart during cutting. Repeat process with remaining nori.

6. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the sushi rolls into 6-8 pieces each, cleaning knife often to prevent sticking. Serve sushi immediately with soy sauce, wasabi or pickled ginger.

Makes 4 sushi rolls

June 7, 2011

Baba Ghanoush

Though a nightshade and closely related to tomatoes and potatoes, eggplants originated in the Old World instead of the New and were likely first cultivated in southern and eastern Asia. Eggplants are the main ingredient in baba ghanoush, one of many different names for an eggplant salad or spread popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean and similar to hummus. Generally the eggplant used in baba ghanoush is roasted or broiled, giving the soft flesh a rich smoky flavor that combines well when further mixed with lemon, tahini and garlic. Although most commonly served with pita bread, I like to baba ghanoush with tortillas and socca too.

Roasted garlic adds rich depth to the baba ghanoush; raw garlic may be used instead for a fresher flavor.

1 medium eggplant, halved

½ lemon, juiced

1 clove garlic, roasted

¼ c tahini

¼ c parsley

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling eggplant.


salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant halves on a baking sheet, skin side down, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast eggplant until soft and golden brown, 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Once eggplant has cooled, scoop seeds and pulp from skin and place in a food processor.

2. Add garlic, parsley, tahini, lemon and olive oil to food processor. Thoroughly combine ingredients into a thick paste. Slowly add water while continuing to process ingredients until desired consistency has been reached.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

Makes about 2 cups

June 3, 2011

Cucumber Watermelon Slaw

Traditionally slaws are associated with cabbage marinated in dressing, as in coleslaw, but the slaw (from the Dutch word for salad) on its own can be used to describe any salad of marinated fresh vegetables and fruits. Because summer is just around the corner, fresh cucumber and watermelon slaw seems to be a great dish to jump start fresh fruit and vegetables dishes, which are so satisfying to eat in hot weather. Watermelon, likely originating in Southern Africa because there watermelon grows wild and reaches great diversity, is a truly beautiful fruit, which has been cultivated by humans around the world for thousands of years. Watermelon rinds, commonly eaten in Asia and some parts of Europe, have a mind watermelon flavor with a crunchy texture and are a great addition to their sweet flesh. Watermelon and cucumber slaw is a great accompaniment to spring rolls or white wine sangria for those warm summer nights.

Regular basil may be used instead of Thai basil, just as regular cucumbers may be used instead of English cucumbers. Any variety of watermelon will work.

1 ½ c English cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds

1 ½ c watermelon, thinly sliced into wedges

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh Thai basil, whole (small leaves) or roughly chopped (larger leaves)

¼ tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine vinegar, sugar, mint, basil and salt in a small mixing bowl. Set dressing aside until sugar and salt have dissolved in vinegar, 5-10 minutes.

2. Place sliced cucumber and watermelon in a medium-mixing bowl. Add dressing and gently toss to combine. Season to taste with fresh pepper. Set slaw aside to marinate at least 1 hour before serving.

3. Serve cucumber watermelon slaw room temperature or chilled.

Serves 3-4