By Liz Rueven
(The Nosher via JTA) — You’re back in your summer barbecue groove and have invited friends for a day of sizzling fun. Just as you’ve settled into your menu choices, you realize that one of your guests for that “easy” fete you’re planning is vegetarian. Now what?
You’ve been down this route before, serving plenty of vegetable centric sides and maybe even those dry vegetarian patties you find in the frozen food aisle.
Newsflash: Vegetarians would rather not eat those faux burgers. So don’t bother with those thin, cellophane-wrapped stand-ins for the real deal. Instead, show some love by making these moist vegetarian burgers from scratch. Yes, you need to use your food processor, but you can make this mixture a day in advance and then forget about it until you fire up the grill. You may even find other guests peering over your shoulder wondering what smells so darn good.
In these easy vegetarian burgers, sweet potato and quinoa lends structure while healthy walnuts ensure that they remain moist. Cumin, turmeric and curry balance the sweetness of the potatoes and pair perfectly with this Roasted Poblano and Heirloom Tomato Salsa.
And while you’re celebrating summer’s bounty, set aside a few ears of corn for this Corn Salad. Double up on carbs and consider this Classic French Potato Salad (sans mayo, of course). Both are easy do-aheads, so you can be free to sip cold brews and tend to the coals.
While thirst may be slacked by lemonade, iced tea and chilled brews, everyone hankers for watermelon at a summer gathering. This farm-fresh watermelon corn salsa is a refreshing compliment to the sweet potato and quinoa base of the veggie burgers.
The dessert after a barbecue always feels exciting. Maybe it’s the setting sun or the waning heat, but there’s something magical and festive about it. If you’re a frozen dessert type of person, check out these Strawberry Basil Popsicles with a creamy mid-layer of vegan sour cream. If you’re picking or buying local strawberries for a frozen dessert but think that the herbaceous mid-layer won’t suit the kids (it probably won’t), consider buying double the amount of strawberries and make these super easy, all-fruit Strawberry Pops for the kids.
And while you’re shopping your local market for fruit, you may want to keep your grill going for dessert. Relish those juicy summer stone fruits with Grilled Apricots and Herbed Strawberries over slices of angel food or pound cake. You can even buy the cake. With perfectly ripe summer fruit, nobody will notice.
Note: This proposed menu is dairy free and may be served alongside traditional burgers.
Here is the recipe for Sweet Potato Quinoa Veggie Burgers:
½ cup quinoa (use 1 cup cooked quinoa)
1 medium sweet potato (use 1 cup cooked sweet potato, lightly packed)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry with paper towel
¾ cup whole walnuts
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 scallions, white and most of green, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
7 tablespoons whole wheat breadcrumbs
Rinse quinoa and cook according to package directions. Cool and set aside.
Peel and slice sweet potato and place in steamer. Cook over boiling water 15-18 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, cool and set aside.
Toast walnuts lightly in nonstick pan until golden and fragrant. Cool and set aside.
In a food processor, combine chickpeas, walnuts, lemon juice and eggs. Whirl for 15-20 seconds, until combined (should not be perfectly smooth). Scrape bowl as needed.
Add garlic, scallions, parsley, curry, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined.
Add cooked sweet potato and bread crumbs; pulse until combined. Add quinoa and pulse until combined. It’s better if your mixture is not too smooth.
Notes: This mixture can be made a day in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. The patties will feel a little loose as you’re forming them, but that’s OK. If you’re not sure, add a little more breadcrumbs.
These veggie burgers may be grilled on the barbecue or pan fried with a little oil in a nonstick pan.
Consider serving with sliced cheese, rounds of thinly sliced red onion, your favorite salsa, avocado, tomatoes or just about anything you can load on the bun.
Yield:10 medium burgers
(Liz Reuven is kosher on the inside, veg on the go and always on the lookout for the most scrumptious eats. Check out her blog, Kosher Like Me.)