December 21, 2008

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

I finally found an interesting vegetarian cookbook! As part of my "eat vegetarian three times a week" goal, I have been on the lookout for great vegetarian cookbook. Many that I have tried have been boring and disappointing, with lackluster recipes that just seem like a bunch of veggie side dishes. Nothing seemed to really scream "special" or have recipes that begged to be the "star" of the meal. In fact, there were a few cookbooks that were so boring I just returned them to the library without even marking one recipe to try out. That is really bad when I can't even find one recipe that looked interesting enough to make as an experiment(really, we will try almost anything once). Alas, my search continued...

Then, I found The Bold Vegetarian Chef by Ken Charney. I just happened upon it at the library,and loved it immediately. It was exactly what I have been looking for! Now, I have dozens of recipes marked for testing! His whole food philosophy (as you may guess from the book's title) is bold flavors and with lots of spices, etc., but easy and familiar enough not to be strange. Exotic, but not too exotic...not weird, but not boring either. I would call it "doable exotic". Hooray! I LOVE bold flavors! I am very excited to try some of his recipes, and I hope they live up to my expectations. This is the first one that I am trying from his cookbook, so wish me luck!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and grated finely
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 ounce dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, stemmed, caps coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup peeled and mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (preferably vegetarian)
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 cup canola oil, for frying

1)In a large skillet, cook the onions in olive oil over medium heat until soft and nicely browned, 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, black beans, and mushrooms to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and fragrant.
2)Remove from heat. With a potato masher or large fork, mash until the beans are about half crushed. Stir in tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper.
3)Place bean mixture in a large bowl. Add the sweet potato, quinoa, caraway seeds, and cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Season with hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Gradually add enough bread crumbs to produce a mixture firm enough to hold together. Let cool.
4)Form bean mixture into 8 burgers about inches in diameter. Spread cornmeal out on a clean plate.
5)One at a time, dredge the burgers in the cornmeal, using your hands to carefully coat both sides. Place on another plate or clean surface. Finish all 8 burgers and set aside. Use extra cornmeal, if needed, to coat all the burgers.
6)In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add or 4 burgers and fry, turning once with two spatulas to prevent 'splashing' oil. Cook until crispy and brown on the outside, heated through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove burgers to drain on paper towels, and add remaining oil. When oil is hot again, cook the remaining burgers, and drain. Serve with Yellow Pepper Sauce.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

2 yellow bell peppers
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 to 1 fresh hot pepper (jalapeno, Serrano or habanero) minced
1/2 banana
1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry white wine or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 splashes of white wine or cider vinegar

1) Roast yellow peppers, peel and cut into strips.
2) In a small skillet or sauce pan, cook the onion in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.
3) In a food processor, combine the roasted bell peppers, cooked onion, hot pepper, banana, and remaining oil. Blend briefly. With the machine on, gradually add wine mixing until smooth and creamy.
4) Strain the sauce through a food mill or fine mesh strainer and scrape into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced slightly. The sauce should be a bit thick, but not heavy. Season with salt, pepper, vinegar to taste.

The Result:
Oh man! This was awesome!!! was labor-intensive, but well worth it. Also, I acknowledge the fact that most households do not stock 'quinoa' in their pantry (or some of the other specialty ingredients/equipment in this recipe), but I do...I actually had everything on hand for this dish...even the food mill (I know, I know...I am a food nerd...don't remind me). This recipe was fan-freakin'-tastic! It was exactly as promised, bold and flavorful. The yellow pepper sauce was so,so good. It was the perfect condiment to these burgers.
The yellow pepper sauce was awesome...although, I had a little jalapeno pepper incident when I was making the sauce. I put my knife down on the cutting board when I finished mincing the hot pepper (a little too haphazardly), and a piece of jalapeno flew up into my eye. Literally, a little chunk got lodged under my eyelid. It burned. It burned so bad, it felt like someone sprayed me with pepper spray at point-blank range. My eye was blood red. It hurt! I flushed it with water and the chunk came out. For the next 20 minutes or so, my eye just teared and burned. No fun! After 20 minutes, it was stopped hurting and the color returned back to normal. Ugh. I am happy that my eye is okay now, I really did not want to sport an eye patch for the rest of my life.

Anyway, this dish took a while to make but it was satisfying and substantial. One burger was plenty of food. In fact, I had the other half of the yellow sweet potato that I served on the side, that I could not finish because the burger was so filling.
This is an awesome vegetarian recipe to keep for when you really feel like "cooking". I think I used almost every bowl I had and almost every piece of kitchen equipment I own. So far, I have done two loads of dishes and it still looks like someone threw a hand grenade in my kitchen. I am happy to have leftover burgers, so I don't have to actually make them again anytime soon. I may even try freezing a couple. Overall, I am really happy with this recipe and I will make it again sometime. These burgers could easily become addictive!

No comments: