Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anniversary+Lentil Burgers with Caramelized Onion

Today marks three years, precisely, since the Halloween that Nick kissed me. That was the very first kiss and the very first time I knew he even liked me, although I had been quietly, secretly, madly in love with him for a while. And, it turned out, he had too. Been in love with me-- not with himself.
 It was only natural that such a momentous thing should happen on Halloween in Salem, since we both worked in Salem at the time, putting on shows for crowds of rowdy tourists. And because of that, (and roughly a million other reasons) Halloween and Salem will always have a special place in my heart.

I know that the wedding anniversary is supposed to be The Thing now, but I can't help it-- I'll always feel like today is our real anniversary, because the years before the wedding are what brought us to the wedding. Nick asked me out on a Anniversary DINNER date for tonight in Portsmouth. So after I get home from work today, I'll be sprucing up in some fancy duds and going out on the town with my handsome man. 

Its hard to believe that Thanksgiving is in less than a month. November is a lovely, but lonely month for me. My mother died in November when I was seventeen, just days before Thanksgiving, and she is often in my thoughts during the holiday season, because she loved, loved, loved the holidays. In fact, she is the entire reason that I myself am so overwhelmingly obsessed with Thanksgiving and CHRISTMAS, because she had a childlike glee when it came to these days. I just hope that I will ever be able to make Christmas Day as special for my children as she made it for us. 

Last night I made a dish my mother used to make when we were, for a time and as a family, vegetarians. It was my favorite non-meat dish then, and still ranks way up there for me today. Its just a lucky bonus that they are also exceptionally good for you. The Great Lentil Burger.

I love me a good meat burger, but these are an awesomely tasty alternative. Packed with nutrients and flavor, and you don't have to feel a minute of guilt. In fact, hold the bun and have a second one! I like mine Au natural, but Nick ate his between two pieces of dense, moist pumpernickel bread, smothered in cheese and topped with sweet caramelized onions. Delicious. And with a side of equally good-for-you baked sweet potato fries, you really can't go wrong.

I made an extra large batch of lentils the other day for the stew, and of course our refrigerator is always well stocked with cooked beans-- so these burgers were an extra-extra-read-all-about-it triple whammy of bean goodness- Lentils, farm-fresh (literally) kidney beans, and equally fresh Calypso Beans. Calypso's are my favorite heirloom variety-- they are so, so tasty, and they are gorgeous.

See?They look like little cow beans.And just on their own they have a fantastic flavor. I'm going to use these to make Boston Baked Beans for Nick's birthday dinner tomorrow-- a McBride Family Favorite. So. Onwards and upwards. I work afternoons and don't get home until usually 7:30 or 7:45, so I like to have everything pre-made since I prefer eating before 8 if at all possible...With this meal, I pre-baked the fries so all I had to do was warm them up, and I put together the bean mixture ahead of time. With those two time savers, I had dinner on the table last night in fifteen minutes.

Ingredients (burgers)*

1.5 cups cooked green lentils
1/2 cup cooked, mashed Calypso beans
1/2 cup cooked mashed kidney beans
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large finely chopped garlic clove
1 egg
2 tbs(ish) cornmeal
salt and pepper 
*I didn't measure any of my ingredients. These are estimates. Good luck.

Combine all ingredients and mush it together with your hands. It needs a good amount of salt, because nothing goes better with lentils than salt. Also, if you are active, you really need the salt in your diet. I have spoken of this before. Don't get me started, don't even get me started. As for the cornmeal, if your mash is on the wet side, put some more in. You could also use bread crumbs but for whatever reason, I prefer the cornmeal. 
Not looking too appetizing yet, but give it time. Spray down a nonstick frying pan with olive oil spray, and then form patties out of the bean paste. Turn the heat to medium, and let them cook at least five minutes on each side. 
They are not so super sturdy so be careful when flipping them. When they are browned on each side, top with some mozzarella cheese, and cover  them so the cheese will melt.
Meanwhile, thinly slice 1/2 an onion and heat some olive oil for the caramelized onions. Put the onions into the oil (no more that 1/4 tbs) and throw in some salt (at least 1 tsp) and some brown sugar (1/2 tbs).

Cook them until they are nicely browned.

For the sweet potato fries, you will need 2.5 smallish unpeeled sweet potato's sliced into fry sized pieces, whatever that means to you. In a zip lock bag, combine 1.5 tbs of olive oil, a good palm full of kosher salt, pepper, oregano, and paprika-- a hearty dash of each. Shake the fries around in the bag until they are all coated, and then lay them out on a cookie sheet. 
 Bake them at 400 degrees in the oven for about fifteen minutes checking them frequently. Once they are soft and a little bit browned, broil them on high for 1-2 minutes.

Bingo. Done. We topped our burgers with a farm fresh tomato and some pickles and ketchup--delightful. And  the best part? At the end of this burger and fries meal, you won't have a greasy stomach ache. You'll just be full, and happy, which is what I like to be at the end of the day. 
 Also, these fries are so good! 
Anyway. Have a wonderful and safe Halloween. Also I added a side link called What I'm Reading to keep me going with my library card and my reading habit. I'd love to hear suggestions from you all on what you're reading, so I get some ideas.

Thank you, everyone, for commenting and following this little blog. I'm having fun.

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