Man-Approved Veggie Burgers

I love trying to cook new things – whether it’s a new recipe or a twist on an old classic. But I can’t say the same thing for my husband. I’ve made a variety of veggie burgers over the years, and many of them get a “mm it was okay” type of response. But last night I cooked up a delicious farro and black bean burger from Food & Wine that was a hit! It did come with a smoky red pepper spread (I think that helped if I’m being totally honest..) and it was a bit more prep than I was expecting, but it was worth the effort. The results were delicious and the patties stay moist when you eat them as leftovers, so you can easily make another burger the next day, or break them up over a salad or veggies for something a little different.

Time:  About an hour, but I took a few time-saving steps (all noted below).

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Photo: © Cedric Angeles

Black Bean Burgers with Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Ingredients

Burgers
  • 1 1/4 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained (or 2 cans of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup farro
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (dried work well too)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for sautéing
  • 8 toasted buns, lettuce, and red onion for serving
Spread
  • 1 small red bell pepper (If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to roast your own as the directions say, or you can simply use a smoked red pepper of the jarred variety..they work quite well and are much easier to use!)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)

Directions

Burgers
  1. In a saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. When the beans are tender, season them with salt and let stand for 5 minutes; drain. If you choose to use canned beans, ignore this step.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the farro and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the grains are al dente, 30 minutes. Mine took a smidge longer – just keep an eye on them until most of the water is gone.
  3. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  4. In a food processor, pulse all but 1/2 cup of the beans to a chunky puree; transfer to a bowl. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of beans, the farro, the onion mixture, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, cilantro, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Form the mixture into 8 patties. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (We were hungry, so we skipped the fridge step. I assume things would have been slightly less sticky if we had followed this step, but from what I could tell, the outcome was just as delicious.)
  5. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat a few tablesppons of vegetable oil. Add the burgers and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and heated through, about 6 minutes. Transfer the burgers to the buns. Top with the Smoky Red Pepper Spread, lettuce and red onion slices, close the burgers and serve.
Spread
  1. Roast the pepper over a gas flame until charred and softened (or just pull one out of the jar…). Let the pepper cool; peel, seed and chop. In a food processor, puree the pepper with the feta and pimentón; transfer to a bowl and serve.

The original recipe can be found here.

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Easy & Delicious Potato Side Dish

Potatoes are often difficult. They’re either too dry if you try to bake them, don’t crisp up properly when you try to turn them into french fries, or take too long when you try to mash them (plus I don’t always want that added butter!). I found a delicious recipe for what I call Smooshed Potatoes on the delightful blog The Pioneer Woman. She calls them Crash Hot Potatoes, but I needed something a little more descriptive in there.  Whatever you call them, they’re a super easy side that delivers delicious results. Most of their cooking time is either boiling or baking, so there isn’t a lot of hands-on work. You can easily make them in the background while you’re cooking/grilling something else. They end up crispy, full of flavor, and dangerously addicting. They’ll go perfect with a burger or a steak, and are even dainty enough to serve alongside a salad – mine went alongside a grilled steak salad (recipe coming soon). Enjoy!

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Tomato-Basil Sauce with Polenta: A delicious meatless option

I’m a big meat fan. A nice, juicy steak is always welcome in my house (and on my plate), but sometimes I think it’s good to mix it up and go meatless a few times a week. I discovered this delicious recipe a few weeks ago on Bon Appetit and I’ve made it a few times. It’s super easy to make and it’s super tasty! Most of the magic is done in the oven, which means you can clean up the kitchen while the food is baking and be done with dinner and dishes in a short amount of time. Love it. The only special thing you need is parchment paper – which comes in handy for baking too, so it’s worth keeping around. (These are a great option – they also come in round if you bake a lot of cakes.)

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Tomato-Basil Sauce with Polenta

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 16- to 18-ounce packaged cooked polenta log, cut into 1/2-inch rounds (You’ll find this in either the fridge section, near the ethnic section, or near the rice/pasta..and sometimes you have to ask where it is) Both plain or basil flavor will work.
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes (about 6 cups)
  • 7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large sprigs basil

PREPARATION

  • Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush with 1 Tbsp. oil. Arrange polenta rounds on oiled sheet.
  • Very coarsely chop (do not purée) half the tomatoes in a food processor. Cut remaining tomatoes in half (quarter if large). Combine tomatoes in a bowl with 4 Tbsp. oil and remaining ingredients. Toss to coat.
  • Stack three 24×12″ sheets of parchment paper on another baking sheet. (Don’t use foil—the tomato acid will react with aluminum.) Spoon tomato mixture onto one side of stacked parchment. Fold parchment layers over mixture and crimp edges tightly to form a sealed packet.
  • Place baking sheet with tomato packet on upper rack and sheet with polenta on lower rack. Bake, turning polenta rounds once, until polenta is light golden and tomatoes are saucy (carefully open packet to check; steam will escape), 25–30 minutes. (You can also cook polenta in a grill pan or on a charcoal or gas grill.)
  • Spoon tomato sauce over polenta.

Be careful with the packet when you pull it out of the oven, as the tomatoes do get a bit juicy! You don’t want tomato juice all over your kitchen floor. Enjoy!