Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

These veggie burgers didn't quite come out the way I wanted them to. Taste got a 10. Texture got a 3. Something went wrong somewhere (I have a few ideas), or it's one of those recipes you have to fiddle around with. But again, as far as taste goes, these knocked it out of the park so I feel they are worth another try.

To make up for them being less than stellar, I'm including a brussel sprout-and-radish slaw that I shamelessly stole/copied from Mezon in Danbury, where we went with friends the other night for Tapas. I just made a little, thinking that only Jeeps and I would eat it.  But go figure, Panda kept dipping her spoon in and so did her friend who was over for dinner. These dang kids, you can never figure their tastes out.

Go Figure Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (I think I screwed up here because instead of measuring 3 cups of raw, cubed sweet potato and then steaming that amount, I measured 3 cups of steamed mashed sweet potato)
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I didn’t screw up here; cook the quinoa first, then measure 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Heaping 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour, or finely ground rolled oats, or almond flour (I had none of these things but I did have almond meal.  Maybe it contributed to the mushy texture, maybe it didn’t)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce

Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil on the stove.  Add the sweet potatoes and lower the heat to simmering.  Let the potatoes cook for about 20-30 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.  (You can also steam the potatoes in the microwave.)

While your potatoes are cooling preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non stick foil.

Once your potatoes have cooled use a fork to mash them.  You want them mashed but not creamy.

In a large mixing bowl add half of the black beans and mash them with a fork.

Add the rest of the beans and the remaining ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Form the mixture into 10 balls.  Each burger should be about 1/2″ thick.  Place each patty on your prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the burgers over once halfway through baking.

Remove from the oven and serve.

I made the slaw by running 8 brussels sprouts and 4 radishes through the shredding disk on the food processor. Then I dressed it with lime juice, mayonnaise, and chopped cilantro. Raw brussies are bitter, so after combining all that, I started adding squeezes of honey and tasting until it was the perfect blend of sweet and sour. You'll know when you get it right.

Black Bean & Quinoa Everything

All the Trader Joe chatter is about these things lately: Quinoa and Black Bean infused Tortilla Chips. I bought a bag to try at home. Gone in sixty seconds. I went back to the store to buy ten bags and they were gone from the shelves. I asked a crew member if there were any in the back and he, and a few more crew members, burst out laughing. "Girl, those chips became like Peppermint Joe-Joes.  People are lining up at the truck for them!"  

As a testimonial to how perfectly freakin' AWESOME the crew is at Trader Joe's, one of them took my cell phone number and promised to text me when the next shipment came in. And she actually did:

Hm, usually my love has a better effect than that. Anyway, I hurried over and scored six bags and there was this great communal love-fest in the snack aisle with a bunch of us loading up our carts and discussing the best way to serve these chips. People confessed to eating an entire bag solo before dinner. One guy insisted we try them with TJ's corn relish, and I myself converted a few people to trying them with the peach salsa. Then a nearby Crew member went in for the kill:

"Have you tried our Tri-Color Quinoa yet?"

We turned as one, eyebrows raised. Pardon?

"The Tri-Color Quinoa. Over in the pasta aisle. There's a recipe on the back of the package for Black Bean & Quinoa fritters that sounds like it would be great with the peach salsa, too."

I was gone. I love black bean fritters to begin with, and this sounded really good. I ended up not following the recipe to the letter because I was too lazy to get out the food processor. I'll leave it up to you to try their way. Here's my way.

Black Bean & Quinoa Fritters (My Way)

  •  1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken broth (I got confused here. Did they mean measure out 3 cups quinoa and then cook it in classic 2-to-1 ratio, in this case 6 cups of broth? Or to prepare enough quinoa in chicken broth to yield 3 cups? I went with the latter and cooked 2 cups quinoa in 4 cups broth and the yield was enough with some left over)
  • 2-3 eggs (start with 2, you may need to add another to get the ingredients to bond and the fritters to hold their shape)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Actually, if you combine all without the egg, you could stop here, add a vinaigrette and end up with a very nice salad.

But add the egg, mix it all up. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop up a generous tablespoon of quinoa, drop gently into the oil and gently flatten into a patty. My first batch fell apart and I needed to add the third egg.

Fry until brown on both sides and drain on paper towels.

To go along with these babies, I had a salad spinner basket full of greens from the garden: yellow swiss chard, beet tops, and leaves from Purple Peacock Broccoli, which is a cross between broccoli and kale so the leaves are edible. To prep the greens, I had something from the Department of I've Been Meaning to Do This for Years but Never Got Around to It:  flavored olive oil.  

I don't know what's taken me so long, it's not like this is a time-consuming, labor-intensive chore. I guess it was just being in Homegoods and finding a couple of glass bottles for olive oil on clearance and deciding one of them would be exclusively for herb-infused oil. And there's nothing to this at all: wash and dry sprigs of thyme, rosemary, oregano, whatever you want, and cram them into the bottle. Peel and smash a few cloves of garlic, slice them lengthwise so you can get them through the neck of the bottle too. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Then funnel in your olive oil. Stop up the bottle, let it sit a few days. Next thing you know you're using it to sauté everything, dunking bread in it, drizzling it over pasta. When the oil runs out, just pour more in. And be sure you arrange it on a cutting board with a bouquet of just-picked roses and a lemon, because that's what all the cool people do.

So here's the Money Shot of sautéed greens and quinoa-black bean fritters. Amazing how that entire basket of greens cooked down to a wilted lump. But fabulous cooked down in the infused oil and then braised with a little added chicken broth. Top the fritters with a spoonful of peach salsa and you are in business.