Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Love Processed Food!

Astute readers of Eats of Eden will know that I have gone a long time without a food processor.  I was frustrated and embarrassed by this lack of pulverization ability, and tried to cover it up by touting the virtues of a good hand-dice and such.  Which is still true (knife skills are great), but there are some things you just can't do without a good, powerful food processor.  Pesto's a good example. I have never been able to get a batch of pesto to work in the blender.  Many sauces require its pureeing superpowers, and I've had to seriously change or just skip over recipes that have required it in the past.

This Christmas, I opened up a lumbering box bearing the beautiful Cuisinart logo, and within waited a brand-new food processor BFP-603!  It's also got a little blender, for when I don't need to get out the huge Kitchen Aid monster from the garage.  I gave the box many hugs and whispered nothings, hinting at the torrid love affair we would have. 

I think it was starting to doubt my sincerity, because it's been sitting idle between the never-used toaster and coffee pot, creating a trifecta of underutilized small kitchen appliances.  Meanwhile, the Griddler I use every week lives in storage under the counter.  Don't ask me about my logic.  That's just the way things work.

Most of my processor-happy recipes were in hibernation, waiting for summer to make all of the fresh herbs and vegetables popping up into sauces, dips and marinades.  Still it stared at me every time I went into the kitchen, nagging me to give it a try.

One of the things I've always wanted to try making, but never have, are homemade veggie burgers.  I've seen a few Food Network chefs do it, and maybe a couple recipes in magazines.  It always seemed like kind of a pain, and you needed a food processor to pulverize the many ingredients into a smooth, malleable "dough."  This weekend though, with a little time on my side and a lot of hungry to take care of, I decided to go for it.  I searched on FoodNetwork.com for a recipe, but all that came up were Sandra Lee-esque tips for dressing up Boca patties submitted by the Morningstar Farms Corporation.  That seems uncomfortable and ominous to me.  This recipe brought to you by a greenwashing subsidiary of Kelllogg Corporation!  (Sorry, anything that ginormous trying to feed us kinda freaks me out.)  Either way, they weren't patty recipes, they were just topping tips.  I can figure out toppings on my own, thanks.  But that whole "put a pineapple on it!" thing is really inspiring.

Once you have all the ingredients out and ready, you're basically embarking on a quest of destruction.  Mash the beans!  Puree the onions!  Squish it all together!  If you're coming into the kitchen angry, this is a great recipe to try. 

With the basic recipe ideas in place, I could see all kinds of opportunities to customize these patties to the flavors you were craving at the moment.  White beans and basil would make a Burgerville-style Yukon burger, which would be divine with some garlic aioli.  Some lemon juice and feta with a mix of navy and garbanzo beans would make a great Greek-style burger, which you could even serve pita-style with tzatziki.  It's almost enough inspiration to make a girl want to go vegetarian. 

I said almost.  But now I'm hungry for bacon.  You could totally serve these with bacon and guacamole, thus negating all of the healthiness you've spent all the time and ingredients creating. 

Anyway.  There are a couple advantages to taking the time to make your own veggie patties versus buying them at the store.  For one thing, they crisp up much nicer in the pan while still being so fresh.  They don't just kind of sit in the pan like a hockey puck.  You get a sear on the beans and rice that gives it a nicer texture, so when you have that slightly-crunchy outside and dense, softer inside, it's much more interesting.  Secondly, being made on-premesis by hand and with ingredients your eyes can certify as all-natural makes it much more flavorful.  And look at this picture!  There's a bean!  A real bean that I didn't mash enough!  Ah, the personal touches. 

If you have a food processor, I'd highly recommend giving these a try.  They warm up great in the microwave after the initial sear, making them great leftovers during the week (as this picture captures me enjoying at my desk on a bagel thin, much more unattractive but infinitely healthier than the beautiful artisan brioche bun Matt got to eat).  Always pack your lettuce separately, or else it gets all squished into the condiments and wilty.

You're welcome.

Ultra Awesome Veggie Burgers (from allrecipes.com)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup water
2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
and drained
1 green bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, or as needed
1. Bring the brown rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Mash black beans in a large bowl with a fork until thick and pasty; set aside.
3. Place the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and chop finely. Stir the bell pepper mixture into the mashed black beans. Place the brown rice and mozzarella cheese in the food processor, and process until combined. Stir the mixture into the black beans.
4. Whisk together the eggs, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and hot sauce. Stir the egg mixture into the black bean mixture. Stir in the bread crumbs, adding additional bread crumbs as needed until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide into 6 large patties.
5. Place patties onto the prepared foil, and grill until browned and heated through, about 8 minutes per side.

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