FALAFEL BURGER

I’m practicing my burger skills for summer! My most recent creation was a Falafel Burger. These burgers are extremely easy and cost effective to create (If you have a well stocked pantry, you won’t need to buy much!). The burgers themselves are vegan (I added tzatziki but feel free to leave it vegan).

(Note: My new kitten, Gilligan, decided to photo bomb my burger photo in order to make his first appearance on the blog)

Serves 3 people

Ingredients
PATTIES:
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed with cold water and drained
1 half red onion, quartered
1 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil (set aside a little additional olive oil for cooking)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs (I like taking any bread I have on hand and making fresh breadcrumbs–simply toast the bread and pulse in the food processor. For this recipe, I used the fourth sesame bun in the pack!)

TOPPINGS / BUN:
Tzatziki (My local farmer’s market has an amazing one! Most grocery stores carry a version of this. If you can’t find it, I would use a little greek yogurt blended with salt, pepper, and fresh cucumber to make a quick version)
Sliced tomato\
Thinly sliced red onion
Fresh spinach

I used a sesame bun from the farmer’s market but use what you have/want here–pita would be great too!

Directions

Add all of the patty ingredients (EXCEPT breadcrumbs!) into a food processor and blend until people would mistake your mixture for guacamole.

Mix in breadcrumbs.

Divide burger mixture into three parts. Place each portion in a piece of saran wrap and once wrapped, shape patty. Refrigerate for at least an hour! This cannot be skipped. The patties must set up so that they do not fall apart on the grill.

You can very easily cook the burgers on the stovetop–just pan fry in a tablespoon of olive oil! However, I have the ability to grill so, to grill is a must!

Brush each patty with your remaining olive oil and slice buns, so they can be toasted on the grill after the burgers are done.

Okay, now for the grilling. I’ll be honest, I sacrificed one burger to the grill in my first attempt. Because veggie burgers aren’t “held together” like meat burgers are, if they aren’t set up or are flipped too early, you will watch dinner fall apart! To avoid this fate, here are a few critical tips:

1) Make sure the grill is HOT. We want to create an instant sear on the burger. If the burger doesn’t get enough heat, it will never brown up enough to be able to safely flip the burger without breaking it.

2) Make sure your burger is oiled! (an oil that can withstand the heat, like canola)

3) Don’t touch! You absolutely must not touch your burger until it has clearly browned up completely on the first side. You will begin to see sides curl up a bit and show the browning on the edges. Make sure to gently test if the burger has “released” from the grill before flipping. I estimate 10 minutes a side for these burgers but that completely depends on your grill and I am hesitant to give timing because it’s about when the burger is ready. Let’s just say, when it flips easily–it’s ready! All the ingredients here are cooked so we aren’t trying to cook throughout but rather, making sure it’s crispy and has achieved the texture we want.

After finishing your burgers, don’t forget to toast up the buns!

Last thing, of course, is to assemble.

I served my falafel burger alongside a simple tomato cucumber salad. (Hothouse cucumbers, roma tomatoes, avocado, thinly sliced green onions, tossed in lemon, olive oil, and fresh dill)

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KOLDUNY

one potato, two potato

Have you ever heard of a Byelorussian Kolduny? I hadn’t until recently when I saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (don’t judge, I know you all watch it too) that featured a Russian restaurant in Arlington, TX. It is essentially a potato pancake stuffed with ground meat. Here is my take on the dish–Scallion and Herb Vegetarian Kolduny.

Ingredients (makes 4)

Scallion and Herb Mixture
2 scallions
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Potato Batter
3 medium sized russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 small white or yellow onion in pieces
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 vegetarian sausage patties cut down the middle to create 4 thin patties (I used Morning Star hot and spicy breakfast sausage)
1/2 of a beaten egg

Toppings
Sour cream
Flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Directions
First task is to create the scallion and herb mixture that will be incorporated into our potato batter. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and roast the scallions in a little bit of olive oil until soft. Food process the roasted scallions with the parsley, garlic, and salt & pepper. Set aside.

one potato, two potato

Now, onto our potato batter.

one potato, two potato

Purée potatoes and onions until smooth. Stir in the beaten egg and flour. The consistency of the batter should be pretty thin so restrain a bit on the flour if it appears too thick. If your batter is too thick, just add a little water. To complete the batter, incorporate the scallion and herb mixture.

one potato, two potato

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. You want the oil to be pretty hot so that you get a nice sear on your kolduny. Test the oil heat by putting a tiny bit of batter in the pan and if you don’t get instant sizzle, the oil isn’t hot enough yet! Spoon batter into a pan in a thin layer. You’re going to use about a 1/4 cup of batter for each one but you can absolutely eye it. Place your veggie sausage patty in the center of your batter. Spoon a little more batter on top so that the sausage is no longer visible.

one potato, two potato

Cook over medium heat for two to three minutes on the first side or until golden brown. After you have flipped your kolduny, put a lid on the skillet and lower the heat. Cook for 5 more minutes to make sure the potato is cooked all the way through.

To finish it off, top with a little sour cream and more parsley.

one potato, two potato

one potato, two potato

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SPICY KALE & CHEDDAR BAKED PASTA

There is so much that can be done in a baked pasta style dish. Not only does the pasta style have a wide range of ingredient possibilities, there is also a huge variety of calorie counts (can anyone say, baked ziti?). I made a healthful version for a Sunday treat this weekend and was beyond pleased. In fact, I made an extra portion to share with my neighbor and let's just say, it never made it there.

I introduce to you…Spicy Kale and Cheddar Baked Orichette!

YUM

Ingredients

what you need!

{1}  2 cups slightly undercooked orichette pasta–I used quinoa pasta! (can substitute any smaller shape! i.e. penne, elbow macaroni, rotini)

{2}  1 cup sharp cheddar cheese 

{3}  1/4 cup almond milk (MUST be unsweetened and not vanilla flavored–blech!)

{4}  1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat breadcrumbs–can be homemade or store bought)

{5}  3/4 cup cooked kale, shallot, and crushed red pepper mixture pulsed in food processor (you can chop, if you don't have a food processor)

{6}  1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

First, create your kale, shallot, and crushed red pepper mixture by sautéing 1 slice shallot in 1 tbsp of olive oil along with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for 2 minutes or until shallots are soft. Add 1 1/2 cups of fresh kale (loosely packed) and continue to cook down for 3 – 4 minutes. Pulse the sautéed ingredients in the food processor until coarsely chopped and mixed. 

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the slightly undercooked pasta (remove from boiling water 2 minutes before the indicated cooking time on package), kale mixture, half of cheese, half of breadcrumbs, spices, and almond milk. Stir well!

MIX WELL!

Split mixture into two 10 oz ramekins (Shopping tip: ramekins are sold at most grocery stores in the baking equipment aisle for only a few bucks a piece. It's worth it, I promise!). Top with remaining cheese, breadcrumbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.

ALL TOPPED!

Bake with foil loosely covered ramekins for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes! Basically, until it's all bubbly and wonderful looking like this:

EAT! 

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