Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pacific Island Veggie Sliders

It's been a hard winter, and I've been dreaming of escape to the tropics of Hawaii. When it came time to plan for last week's Revs tailgate, I surrendered to my hankering for pineapples, coconuts, and summer burgers with some pacific island-ish veggie sliders.

It took me a really long time to figure out how to make a decent veggie burger patty. I've tried dozens of recipes and found them all to have nearly the same frustrating flaw: mushy textured patties that fall apart when cooked. This challenge was magnified when I decided I'd prefer to omit egg (a common ingredient used to bind together veggie patties) in favor of making a vegan burger.

Discovering Angela Liddon's Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers was a game changer. After following (and loving) the recipe exactly as-is a few times, I began experimenting by using the original recipe as a base, but substituting the spices, the type of beans, and/or the filler veggies. This recipe base works well for a few reasons:
  1. Flax meal in place of egg binds the ingredients together.
  2. Using the right amount of dry starch (ground rolled oats) helps the burgers to be sticky, but not gooey.
  3. Excess moisture is limited. It's easy to forget about all the excess water that comes along with loading vegetables into your patty. This recipe base doesn't use too many wet, watery vegetables.
  4. Baking the burgers first ensures they'll hold up well on the grill or in the pan. 
I went all-in on my tropical theme by topping my burgers with pineapple salsa and a quick slaw and serving them on King's Hawaiian sweet rolls. If you can find these rolls in your local grocery store, it's worth the extra effort! 

Pacific Island Veggie Sliders 
adapted from Moroccan Yam Chickpea Veggie Burgers at Oh She Glows

1.5 cups sweet potato, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves
1 small knob fresh ginger
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce*
4 tablespoons Trader Joe's Soyaki**

*I used some leftover homemade barbecue sauce I had in my fridge - really any plain or sweet barbecue sauce you have will do the trick.
**I cut corners by using this pre-made soy sauce with ginger, garlic, pineapple, and sesame seeds. You could substitute any similar sauce or make your own.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Peel sweet potato and grate using a cheese grater OR the grating attachment on a food processor (this is a huge time saver!) until you have about 1 1/2 lightly packed cups. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Remove grater attachment from food processor and replace with regular "S" blade. Add cilantro, garlic, and ginger and process until finely minced.
  4. Add drained chickpeas to food processor and run until finely chopped, but leave some texture. Scoop this mixture into the mixing bowl with the sweet potato.
  5. Grind the oats to a flour using the food processor. Stir this into the mixing bowl along with the flax mixture. 
  6. Stir in the sesame oil, chili powder, salt, pepper, barbecue sauce, soyaki sauce (or whichever soy sauce variation you're using) until thoroughly mixed. Adjust seasonings to taste. 
  7. Using your hands, shape mixture into 12 small slider-size patties. Place patties on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Flip and bake another 10-15 minutes, until golden and firm. Cool on the tray.
This recipe is vegan and can be made gluten free if you use a gluten free tamari or teriyaki sauce in place of the Soyaki, gluten free rolled oats, and an alternative bun of your choosing. I served my burgers with a quick coleslaw, pineapple salsa (both recipes below), and a slice of avocado on King's Hawaiian sweet rolls.

Quick Sort-of-Hawaiian Slaw
4 cups shredded green cabbage

2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro, chopped (also optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

Whisk together garlic, ginger, canola mayo, tamari, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and hot sauce in a medium bowl. Add in cabbage, cilantro and scallions and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Pineapple Salsa
2 cups fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Stir all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Assemble your burgers as you please.
A side of Polynesian pineapple seitan skewers seemed just right.

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