Monday, August 22, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Quinoa Sliders with Spicy Roasted Corn Salad

I keep reading and seeing blog posts about quinoa being used as the primary ingredient in burger patties, and I finally decided it was time to stop reading and start doing! I love making vegetarian burgers, and this seemed like a great twist on an old favorite. Plus, it could not be any simpler.

Let me back up a second, though, and tell you about the side dish I made to go along with the Quinoa Sliders: Spicy Roasted Corn Salad. This is a fun way to use up your fresh corn on the cob; it's tangy and spicy, with some great contrasting textures in the form of black beans, scallions, and sweet corn. It can be made in advance and served cold, and it keeps well for days. As you can see above, the ingredients are combined with a delicious chipotle vinaigrette, then tossed well and chilled before eating. I like my food spicy, but of course this recipe could be modified and made with less (or no) chipotle peppers.

The slider recipe I used came from another blog, and the author fried her slider patties on the stovetop. Then, she served the burgers with a quail egg on top. I didn't go quite so fancy; below I included a link to her original recipe. Because I was trying to make these a bit healthier, I chose to bake my patties in the oven and I skipped the egg. Because I baked them, they did turn out just a tad rubbery, which I think is due to the fact that there are several eggs in the slider patties (there to bind the ingredients).

I love these because they are a blank canvas for virtually any flavors you like. If you wanted a Tex Mex burger, you could add some chili powder to the slider base. If you were to go Asian next time, they would taste great with some soy sauce, fresh lime juice, ginger, etc. For this go-round, I did a slightly Middle Eastern thing. I sprinkled plenty of ground sumac (our new favorite spice) into the slider ingredients, which lends foods a slightly sour, acidic flavor. No matter how you dress them up, I suggest you give them a go if you like quinoa, or even if you need an introduction to them. Simple and lovely!

Quinoa Sliders
adapted from food+words
makes 12 sliders

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
2 egg whites (lightly beaten with whole eggs)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 slices whole wheat bread, processed into crumbs
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground sumac (found in international supermarkets and spice shops)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Slider buns (we used pretzel buns, yum!)
Sriracha sauce, for drizzling
Spinach leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the cooked quinoa with the beaten eggs and egg whites, the salt, bread crumbs, jalapeno, onion, garlic, sumac, and black pepper. Using your hands or a large cookie scoop, form slider patties and place on a nonstick baking sheet (or a sheet lined with parchment or silpat). Flatten slightly to form your burgers.

2. Bake the sliders for 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time. (If desired, you can also fry them in some olive oil on the stovetop, about 2 minutes per side.)

3. Serve the quinoa sliders on slider buns with spinach leaves and a drizzle of sriracha sauce.

Spicy Roasted Corn Salad with Black Beans and Feta
adapted from Fine Cooking
makes 6-8 servings

3 ears fresh corn
1 small red onion, diced
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 oz. (1/2-3/4 cup) reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 scallions, sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 small canned chipotle pepper, seeded and minced, plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce (from the can)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the ears of corn, still in their husks, directly on the center rack in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool; remove husks and silk. Slice the corn kernels from the cob and place in a large bowl.

2. To the bowl, add the red onion, black beans, feta cheese, scallions, and oregano. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, chipotle pepper and sauce, and salt and pepper. Alternatively, you can blend the ingredients together with an immersion blender, or inside a standard blender.

3. Pour the dressing over the corn mixture and stir well to combine. Refrigerate the salad for several hours before serving. This will keep in the fridge for several days.

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