What to eat, why you eat, and how to make it easy

Creative Burgers: Thrills from the Grill

Creative Burgers: Thrills from the Grill

Nothing grills better than a burger—even if you don’t eat meat. The vegetarian, vegan and lighter selections are clean takes on the classic beef burger. I used watercress pesto for the Shiitake and White Bean Burger, but any pesto will work. Set a festive table, and fire up the grill!

Shiitake and White Bean Burgers with Watercress Pesto and Goat Cheese
Makes 6  burgers

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps chopped (about 2 cups, chopped)
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons dried ground rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup fine whole-wheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs
1 small bunch watercress, stems removed (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces goat cheese
4 whole-wheat croissants or gluten-free bread

1.   Coat grill racks with oil, and preheat on medium-high. (Or preheat oven broiler to high, for oven broiling.)

2.   In a food processor, combine mushrooms, onion, beans, 2 of the garlic cloves, egg, rosemary, salt and pepper. Puree until well combined; mixture will be wet.

3.   Transfer to a medium bowl and, using hands, mix in bread crumbs until mixture holds its shape, but is still moist. Form into six patties, and brush each side with olive oil. Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until crispy and browned on the outside and heated through. Or broil in the oven for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.

4.   While burgers are cooking, make pesto: in a food processor, combine remaining garlic clove, watercress, pine nuts and olive oil. Pulse until a paste forms. Season with sea salt and white pepper.

5.   During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking, place buns on the grill to warm. Remove warmed buns from grill and generously spread each side with pesto. Spread goat cheese on the bottoms of buns. Place one burger on the bottom of each bun, top with a slice of tomato, cover with bun top, and serve immediately.

Thai-style Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney
Serves 4

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 tablespoons grated ginger root
4 medium scallions, minced, white parts only
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil (substitute regular basil)
4 pieces whole-wheat or gluten-free naan
1/2 cup mango chutney
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, washed well, stems removed

1.   Coat grill racks with oil, and preheat on medium-high.

2.   In a medium bowl, combine garlic, curry paste, ginger, scallions, turkey, salt and basil. Mix to combine well. Form into four four-inch patties, and brush both sides with olive oil. Grill for 12 minutes, turning halfway through, until cooked through.

3. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, place naan on grill to warm through. Remove naan from grill and spread with chutney. Top with a generous amount of cilantro. Remove burgers from grill, and place one burger in the center of each piece of naan; serve immediately.

Southwestern Bison Burger with Grilled Peppers and Chipotle Mayonnaise
Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground bison (buffalo)
1 small bunch scallions, finely chopped, mostly white with some green
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tabasco or other hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 small yellow pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
1/3 cup canola, olive oil or low-fat mayonnaise
1 medium canned chipotle pepper, seeded and minced
4 sprouted wheat or gluten-free burger buns
1/2 small very ripe avocado, mashed
4 lettuce leaves, torn to fit buns
4 thin red onion slices (optional)

1.   Coat grill racks with oil, and preheat on medium-high

2.   Combine bison, scallions, salt, pepper, cumin, Tabasco and cilantro. Form into four, four-inch patties, and lightly brush with oil. Lightly coat pepper strips with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

3.   Grill burgers and peppers for 12 minutes, turning burgers halfway through and turning peppers three or four times, until burgers are cooked through and peppers are tender and charred.

4. While burgers and peppers are cooking, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise with chipotle pepper and mix well.

\5. During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking, place buns, cut side down, on grill and toast. Remove buns from grill and spread both sides of each bun with mayonnaise. Spread bun bottoms with avocado, then layer peppers over. Place one burger on each bun bottom, top with lettuce leaves and onion slices, if desired, then cover with bun tops. Serve immediately.

Cajun Blackened Tuna Burgers with Spicy Remoulade on Ciabatta Rolls
Makes 4 burgers

1 can dolphin-safe solid white tuna
1 can dolphin-safe chunk light tuna
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 cup fine whole-wheat or gluten-free bread crumbs
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup homemade or high-quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ciabatta rolls, split (alternatively, use 4 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls)
4 1/4-inch thick tomato slices
1 cup mesclun mix, spinach or other greens

1.    Coat grill racks with oil, and preheat on medium-high. (Or preheat oven broiler to high, for oven broiling.)

2.   Drain tuna well, pressing out as much excess water as possible. Place in a medium bowl and break into pieces. Add egg, mustard, onion and bread crumbs, and mix until well blended. Form into four patties, and brush both sides with oil.

3.   Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. (Or broil in the oven on the middle rack for 10 minutes, turning halfway through.)

4.   While burgers are cooking, make sauce: in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, garlic, lemon, parsley and cayenne, and mix until well blended.

5.   Lightly spread both halves of ciabatta rolls with sauce. Place one tomato slice on each bottom half, and layer with lettuce leaves.

6.   Remove burgers from grill or oven, and place one burger on each bottom half of a bun. Cover with top half, and serve immediately.