Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quinoa Salad (or Pilaf) and Bonus Recipe: Lentil Burgers!

I had dinner with my favorite 3-year-old and 1-year-old yesterday--Sam and his brother Bohdan.  They are a coupla busy guys!  Bohdan's new word is  "Uh-oh!" which comes in quite handy when a spoon or cup is dropped from the high chair.  I made this quinoa salad/pilaf and lentil burgers for dinner.  Can't say either of these two guys offered a ringing endorsement of them--but neither one of them spit them out.  Speaking of spitting, for "bessert" (Sam's favorite part of any meal!) we had watermelon and spit the seeds off the porch.   Sam & Bodhan's mom and dad liked the quinoa and burgers, so they make it on to the blog!

QUINOA SALAD or PILAF (you be the judge!)

This recipe is adapted from the May/June 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times.  I added the celery and red pepper--and honey, of course!  Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed and provides a nice alternative to rice.  Here's a link to more information from and entity called the Quinoa Corporation.  You can play around with the ingredients here.  If you don't have a red pepper, mushrooms or zucchini would do--or skip the vegetables entirely and just use the herbs.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well 
2 cups broth 
1 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 spring onions (or scallions) sliced into 1/4 in rounds--including much of the green part.
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped mint.
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (unsalted if you can find them), chopped
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, toast the quinoa until it begins to brown and "pop" (about 3 to 5 minutes).  Add the broth to the pan, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa absorbs the broth.  Transfer to a bowl and cool.

While quinoa is cooking, saute the celery and red pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened but still a bit crunchy.  Turn off heat, add spring onions and stir.  Add to cooled quinoa in bowl.

Add parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and mint to the bowl and toss to mix well.  Stir in nuts.  Taste and correct seasoning--may need some salt and pepper.  Let sit for 20 minutes for flavors to develop.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.  Makes at least 8 servings.

There isn't a drop of honey in these burgers at all--but we've been eating these about once or twice a week.  Unlike many home made bean burgers, these actually hold up well in a burger bun.  The recipe comes from our vegan friend, Emily.  I've adapted it to our non-vegan tastes (but include the vegan directions below, too).  This recipe makes 8 burgers.

8 ounces mushrooms, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups cooked lentils, thoroughly drained and dry as you can get 'em (divided)
1/3 to 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce or (tamari)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg*  (see vegan substitution below)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil until they are very soft and have released their juices--about 5 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and saute a few minutes longer.  In a food processor, add the mushroom mixture, 2 cups of the lentils, 1/3 cup oats, corn starch, tomato paste, soy sauce, paprika and oregano. Pulse 5-10 times to thoroughly combine and chop the ingredients.  Place the mixture in a bowl and add the remaining 2 cups of lentils and the egg.  Mix with hands to combine.  The mixture should be more sticky than crumbly. If it is too wet to hold the shape of a burger, add up to another 1/3 of oats--but no more.  The burgers will be sticky and a little messy to work with.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, form mixture into 8 burgers about  2 1/2 or 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick (the size of an average burger).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.

Bake burgers in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  If you want cheese lentil burgers, you can place cheese slices on top and broil for a few minutes.  You can also grill these burgers after you bake them--just a few minutes on each side to give them some grilled flavor.  

*VEGAN SUBSTITUTION:  In place of the egg, you can use 2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons warm water.  Add these to the mixture when you pulse everything in the food processor. 

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