Among other things, we got carrots and eggplant from the farmers' market last week. I decided to try a recipe for Curried Carrot-Walnut Burgers from the great cookbook, Vegetarian Planet by local author Didi Emmons. I bought this cookbook a couple years ago and have flipped through a few times thinking of the possibilities, but had never attempted a recipe. I also just bought the cookbook Local Flavors by Deborah Madison, since Lee keeps talking about it, and decided to make Eggplant Gratin as a side dish.
Curried Carrot-Walnut burgers
2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1.5 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1.5 cups cooked and drained chick peas
4 medium carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
unbleached white flour (for dredging and forming the burgers)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add spices and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Put chickpeas and contents of the pan in a food processor, and run in spurts until everything is well-chopped.
3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Flour your hands and form the mixture into patties. Heat oil in a skillet, and cook the patties four minutes on each side until the bottoms are golden brown.
This recipe was somewhat successful. Unlike my husband Josh, who is a chemist, I tend to be pretty approximate with recipes. I think this recipe would have come out better if I had been more precise. I added in an extra carrot because we had a bunch and threw in another handful of walnuts becuase I like them. When it came time to form and cook the patties, the texture did not seem quite right, and I had a really hard time keeping them together. It helped to squeeze handfuls of the batter to drain them a bit, but it was still quite delicate work flipping the burgers. Towards the end, I added in some flour to the batter, and then everything worked much better and it was easier to cook.
Overall, this recipe was a good amount of work. For some reason anything involving the food processor seems complicated to me, and since the ingredients had to be cooked first, then transferred and chopped, and then cooked again, it took quite a while. I also had to wait a while before forming the patties since the mixture was too hot to touch at first. I really liked the final product, though. I had one on a bun, but that seemed like a lot of starch, so then just ate a few more like pancakes with ketchup on top.
I also made the following recipe for Eggplant Gratin. It said it could be served at room temperature or warm, so I made this in advance while the burger batter cooled.
2.5 pounds eggplant, peeled if white
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup milk or light cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
10 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 and oil a casserole dish. Cut the eggplants into rounds half an inch thick. Salt and set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions for about 12 minutes. While onions cook, combine the eggs, milk, cheese, vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
3. Rinse salted eggplant and wipe off water with a towel. Heat oil in the skillet and fry each piece of eggplant. Turn right away in the oil and then fry until golden.
4. Mix the eggplant with the onions, basil, and salt and pepper. Put it in the dish and pour the egg and milk mixture over the top. Bake until golden, firm, and puffed for 30-40 minutes. Dish should cool for a bit before serving, or can be served at room temperature.
This dish was good, but time consuming. Frying the eggplant took a while, so I'd make this dish again if I could come up with a shortcut for that step. The rest of the steps were easy, and I like that it could easily be made in advance. My 3-year-old helped by tearing up the basil.