Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zucchini Quinoa Burgers

As I've mentioned before, veggie burgers are one of my staple lunches and finding recipes to use up  my ample zucchini crop is my primary culinary concerns of the moment. When I found a recipe from one of my favorite sources that combined these two culinary projects, I knew there was no way I could pass it up. And I was certainly not disappointed with my choice.

The structure of these burgers is made of three subtly flavored canvases - zucchini, chickpeas, and quinoa - with a light and lively flavor coming from a combination of fresh herbs, Dijon, lemon juice, and smoked paprika. The dill is the most aromatic and forward of all the flavors, its scent instantly perfuming the air, followed quickly by zesty Dijon, earthy oregano, smoky paprika, and bright lemon. Each of these flavors hits your taste buds at a slightly different time, the taste evolving slowly as you taste each bite.

The texture is, as always with veggie burgers, the greatest challenge here, but if you take a little care when shaping and flipping, you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping these patties together. (And the great thing is, if they do seem like they might fall apart, you have the perfect excuse to melt some cheese on top). I've frozen uncooked and cooked burgers and they both fared well in future feasts, a perfect way to resurrect this plentiful summer veggie in just a couple of days or when the snow begins to fly.

Zucchini Quinoa Burgers
adapted from Food52
makes 6 burgers

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped finely
1 1/2  cups zucchini, julienned on a mandolin or grated on the largest setting of a box grater
1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
3/4 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (1/2 heaping cup dry or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup dry)
2/3 cups water
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1. To prepare chickpeas, soak beans overnight. In the morning, rinse them and discard soak water. Place beans in a pot with enough water to submerge them by several inches. Heat to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 min to an hour, or until beans are tender. Drain and store in the fridge for up to three days.

2. To prepare quinoa, rinse quinoa in a sieve. Add to a small pot and add 2/3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, with a lid slightly ajar on the pot, until the water is absorbed and you can see the thin “ribs” of the quinoa becoming detached from the grain. Fluff, cover, and let sit for a few moments. Store in the fridge for up to three or four days.

3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add zucchini, and continue to saute until zucchini is cooked through and onion is translucent. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Grind seeds, sea salt, and pepper in a food processor till they’re broken into a fine meal.
Add quinoa, chickpeas, the dijon mustard, lemon, dill, paprika, and oregano to the mixture. Pulse to combine a few times. Then, run the motor to continue mixing the mixture. You may need to stop it a few times so that you can scrape the sides of the processor and start the motor again. You want the beans to be broken down and for the mixture to hold together well, but you don’t want to process so extensively that the mix has no more texture. If you need to add a little water to the mixture, that’s totally OK.

4. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the zucchini, onion, and garlic. Mix with hands (as if you were making meatloaf). When everything is incorporated, season once more with salt and pepper, to taste.
Shape mixture into six patties with hands. Heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a sautee pan on medium heat. Cook burgers for five minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Alternately, you can bake them at an oven set to 375 degrees for twenty-five minutes, flipping once halfway through. Serve.

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