Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sesame Sweet Potato and Cabbage Burgers

Although making Mushroom Pecan Burgers was born out of necessity (I had ingredients that needed to be used up), it has definitely rekindled my love of making veggie burgers. My primary resource for veggie burger recipes is Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger, but instead of going straight to the book, I decided to peruse Lukas Volger's website, stumbling across this little gem of a recipe in short order. I can't recall having cabbage and sweet potatoes together in a dish many times before, but I was quite delighted by the pairing in this burger, particularly when punctuated with spice from cayenne (which I used generously). The sweetness of the sweet potatoes marries wonderfully with fresh and mild green cabbage, with the soy sauce or tamari lending umami and the tahini a decadent richeness. The one almost-fault of this recipe that I found was that I did need to add significantly more than 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, although the recipe acknowledges that this might be necessary. When browning the burgers, make sure to oil the pan generously, as sweet potatoes have a tendency to stick to the pan. If they do fall apart, don't fret, just smoosh them back together and call them rustic, a tactic I frequently employ when dishes don't turn out quite as picturesque as I had imagined.

With my love of veggie burgers reinvigorated in the new year, expect to see many more recipes like this one gracing the pages of this blog. Although they'll rarely satisfy a craving for a juicy, meaty cheeseburger when I want one, delicious veggie burgers this one can make frequent appearances on my dinner table without the slightest tinge of guilt. I can rarely convince my meat-and-potatoes-loving husband that veggie burgers have a place in his diet, but that just means more leftovers waiting for me in the freezer, just begging to be packed for lunch during the work week.

Sesame Sweet Potato and Cabbage Burgers
from Lukas Volger
makes 4 burgers

For the photographed version, I ran out of parsley and cilantro—sorry for the missing green stuff up there!

2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil)
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
Scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium sweet potato, grated (10 to 12 ounces, or about 3 heaping cups grated)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage (about a quarter of a head)
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, or more if needed
3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley or cilantro, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a deep skillet or sauté pan (something big enough to hold the potatoes and cabbage—a wide sauté pan might work) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cayenne and fry until soft and beginning to color deeply. Add the sesame oil, followed by the sweet potato and cabbage. Stir in the soy sauce and salt. Cover and cook until tender, stirring periodically, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together the egg whites, tahini, and lemon juice until combined. Add the cooked potato-cabbage mixture, then fold in the breadcrumbs and herbs. Add additional crumbs if the mixture seems loose, but err on the side of wet because the burgers will firm up in the oven. Shape into 4 patties.

4. Heat remaining oil in an oven-safe skillet (an oven-safe nonstick pan works really nicely with this burger, as the sweet potatoes tend to cling to the pan; going that route you can get away with using less oil) over medium heat. Add the burgers, in batches if necessary, and fry until golden-brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer them to the preheated oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until firm to the touch.

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