Thursday, March 7, 2013

Southwestern Squash Burgers

I've gone through a number of veggie burger phases in the past, and think this recipe may be starting a new one, thanks to a need to use up squash puree. I was a little skeptical of these burgers at first because they didn't have any beans and just 1/2 cup of squash puree is used to blend all the ingredients together, but they turned out absolutely wonderful. Whole wheat bread crumbs and wheat germ, which serve to bind and give body to the burger, also had a real contribution to the flavor, which I found surprisingly pleasing. Corn and peppers bring freshness and a bit of texture, with the squash puree adding a subtle hint of sweetness and sticking everything together. The cheese blended into every bite prevents the burger from feeling too healthy, it's smokiness blending beautifully with the smoky cumin and ancho chile powder. Unlike many veggie burgers, these hold together well, their texture solid enough to get a delightful brown crust when fried. Essential for busy professionals and families alike, extra uncooked burgers can be frozen so you're never more than a few minutes away from a tasty meal.

Southwestern Squash Burgers
adapted from Eating Well
makes 4 burgers

6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder (I used ancho
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Tomato Salsa, optional (recipe follows)
1/2 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin or other winter squash puree
1/2 cup shredded smoked or sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup fine dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas, (soft-taco size)
Shredded lettuce, for serving (optional)
Salsa, for serving (optional)
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bell pepper, corn, garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

2. Add pumpkin, cheese, wheat germ, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper to the onion mixture; mix well. With dampened hands, form the vegetable mixture into four patties.

3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Stack tortillas and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes to heat through. (Alternatively, stack tortillas between two damp paper towels; microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds, or until heated through.)

4. Using 2 teaspoons oil per batch, cook 2 to 4 patties at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and heated through, about 4 minutes per side. Adjust heat as necessary for even browning. Wrap the patties in tortillas and serve immediately, garnished with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream, if desired.

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