Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce

A good veggie burger is one of my absolute favorite meals. Unfortunately, the plant-based patty is easily prone to a bad rap due to three common shortcomings: bland, cardboard-like taste (blah), rubbery, processed consistency (ew), or loose ingredients that crumble upon touch (grr.) These inferior qualities can turn burger-lovers against the veggified version for good, and if you're one of the haters, I beg you to here me out. A solid veggie burger is fantastic, and this Moroccan Yam Veggie Burger with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce proves my point.
A base of shredded yams and crushed chickpeas hold these burgers together in both texture and substance, and a range of rich spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and coriander add distinctive Moroccan flavor. Flour made from rolled oats and flax seed adds a nutty, wholesome nuance, and using sesame oil instead of traditional olive oil adds another unexpected but well-received flavor to the mix. 
Now lets talk about the sauce, which I am going to suggest right now to double in quantity because its equally important as to why this veggie burger rocks. Tangy and herby with ample cilantro and lime, the tahini almost gives it a green goddess-like quality (so obviously I'm obsessed.)  Because the burger itself is pretty earthy, the tangy dressing really makes it pop. 
Baking the burger yields a perfectly crisp exterior and appropriately soft, chewy inside; no weird consistency issues here! The yam and oats mean the batter is pretty starchy, so feel free to skip the "bun" here and serve with a big helping of shepherd's salad chockfull of tomato, cucumber, and onion instead. 
Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers with Cilantro-Lime Tahini Sauce (from Oh She Glows)
Makes 6-8 patties
Prep time: 25 minutes, cook time: 35 minutes

For the burgers:
1.5 cups grated yam or sweet potato 
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 small piece of fresh ginger (1 cm cube), peeled
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
2 tablespoons ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour (use gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

For the cilantro-lime tahini sauce (makes 1/2 cup):
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

Make the burgers: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Peel the yam/sweet potato. Grate (by hand or in a food processor) until you have 1 1/2 lightly packed cups. Place into large bowl.
3. In the same food processor (no need to wash), mince the garlic, cilantro, and ginger until finely chopped.
4. Add drained chickpeas and process again until finely chopped, but leave some texture. Scoop this mixture into a large bowl.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the flax and water. Add to large bowl.
6. Grind the oats into flour using a blender or the food processor. Add flour to large bowl.
7. Stir in the oil, soy sauce, salt/pepper, and spices to batter until thoroughly combined. Adjust to taste if desired.
8. Shape 6-8 patties, packing the mixture firmly together. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip, and bake for another 18-23 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on pan.
Make the cilantro sauce: 

1. Mince garlic in a food processor, followed by the cilantro. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Orangy Wheat Berry and Orzo Salad

Picnic season is upon us, and I have just the dish to make your potluck contribution stand out well above all the rest. I guess this dish could technically be considered a pasta salad because it features orzo as a a main ingredient, but its about as far away from the mayonnaise-slathered, insipid version as you can get. Spirited, zesty, citrusy, and spry; this Orangy Wheat Berry and Orzo Salad breaths new life into one of summer’s most iconic sides.
If the ingredients sound familiar, that’s because I poached the dressing (and wheat berries) to make my Arugula Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette over the winter. I just couldn’t wait—the vinaigrette is literally drinkable! The combination of orange, white wine vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil is tangy and light: acidic enough for a little kick, but mollified by the oil for a taste that’s just right. I recommend using orange juice concentrate over regular orange juice if you can, the flavor is a bit more robust.
Colorful is this salad too, with large chunks of fresh oranges and bright green scallions dotting the tiny wheat berry spheres and ivory orzo. The texture variation is one of my favorite aspects: crunchy wheat berries, silky orzo, and fleshy orange segments, sprinkled with a generous garnish of biting scallions and steely pine nuts.
So, besides being delicious, what makes this salad picnic perfect? First of all, it can easily be made the night before without any sort of wilting. (In fact, I recommend doing this anyway to let the vinaigrette really seep into the ingredients. Just reserve the pine nuts until serving.) Second, it can be served cold or at room temperature, which works well for hours of sitting in a picnic setting. Third, it lends itself to a big batch—since the wheat berries take a long time to cook (its worth it though, I promise), make a ton and just eat it consecutively for a few days if not serving for a crowd. To transform the salad from a side dish to a main, top with grilled salmon or shrimp, and serve on a bed of greens. Consider chickpeas and goat cheese for a vegetarian option.    

Orange you glad I introduced you?!

Orangy Wheat Berry and Orzo Salad (from my Mama.)
Makes 6-8 side servings

1 cup orzo
1 cup wheat berries
2 oranges, peeled and chopped
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil 
3 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted
3 scallions, diced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook wheat berries according to package directions. (Cooking time is approximately 1 hour, so start on these guys first.) When finished, place into a large bowl and let cool.
2. Cook orzo according to package directions. Let orzo cool, and add to bowl with wheat berries.
3. Reduce orange juice to a glaze in small saucepan. (If using orange juice concentrate, replace this step —as it is already reduced—with microwaving for 15 seconds or until no longer frozen.) When the orange juice reduction has cooled, mix oil, vinegar, and a generous sprinkle of salt & pepper into the saucepan.
4. Pour orange juice reduction into the large bowl, and mix thoroughly. Just before serving, sprinkle with the pine nuts and scallions.