If it isn’t apparent yet, I am a burger-fiend. Plain and simple. There’s something about the juicy, round experience of biting into a cohesive combination of moist, tender burger sandwiched between a chewy bun dizzied up with an artist’s palette of condiments along with an assortment of fresh, crunchy veggies like onion, lettuce, grated beet, carrot slithers or summer squash rounds, or the likewise tantalizing creamy options in mushrooms, avocado and tomatoes. This divine juxtaposition of so many textures and flavors holds me captive every time. Even when I was a vegetarian, sometimes the only thing that would satisfy was a thick juicy veggie or bean pattie plated up with the fixins.
I love that there’s so much to choose from: beef, bison, lamb, ostrich, turkey and bean are some of my favorites when it comes to protein choices. Homegrown tomatoes are a classic, as is a crispy red- or green-leaf lettuce, and avocado (though in no way local fare) is always a pleaser. One of the best perks to working on farms with livestock or veggies-for-meat barter systems, is having an array of meats in the freezer to choose from; lamb was a constant menu offering in Kansas, bison was within hand’s reach in Montana and beef is pretty standard elsewhere.
Here in Mount Vernon, WA, ground deer has been added to the assortment! And as there are other vegetarian WWOOFers here during my visit, making burgers can expand from just ground meats to grains, legumes and seeds. A great cook book to check out (written by local authors, graduates of Bastyr Univ) is The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, it has great recipes for vegetarians and omnivores alike, as well as some awesome baked goods, breakfast ideas and food-allergy alternatives.
Last nights table offerings: Zucchini Curry Burgers and Sunny Sunflower Seed Burgers.
For the zucchini burgers:
One medium zucchini, whizzed up real good in the food processor
About one teaspoon of curry sauce
One pound of ground meat
Mix it all together with your hands, form into patties (depending on how fatty your meat is, you might need to add a beaten egg to hold the patties together.) Refrigerate for about 30 minutes if you can, then into a hot fry-pan (or hot BBQ) for about 8-10 minutes, flipping once.
For the Sunflower Burgers:
1 cup of rice cooked in 2 cups of water for about 45 minutes, let cool a bit
2 cups of sunflower seeds
Herbs of your choice (thyme, oregano, cilantro, cayenne are all good ones)
A bit of tamari
Blend the seeds and herbs together for a good minute in the food processor til grainy in appearance. Then add and pulse briefly:
A couple of carrots
A handful of parsley
Stir in the cooled rice and squish it all together with your hands to form patties (no thicker than a 1/2 inch is best) and cook over medium heat til the outside is browned and pretty in color and the inside has had a chance to heat up equally. Maybe 12-15 minutes, flipping once.
We enjoyed these with organic wheat buns and homemade sourdough, condiments and the season’s first (for me!) tomato.
Another topping I highly recommend (…………especially is you’re feeling peaked………..) is peacamole! With the abundance of end-of-the-season shelling peas waiting to be cooked before their all their sugary goodness gave way to starchy bland, I eyed a recipe in a cookbook at the co-op for it. Basically it’s cooked, mashed peas (the book also recommended fava beans) with all the things you’d add to guacamole: garlic, lime juice, salt, maybe a tomato or pepper.
It’s much more warming and filling than guacamole and offers a nice, thick spread for a burger or plain piece of toast (or finger.)