Burger Wars

I’m on a quest to find the perfect veggie burger recipe. There is beginning to be a dearth of winter squash varieties that I care to try and report on, so maybe this will spawn some burger-related posts instead.

I have some criteria for veggie burgers:

  • Tasty (obviously) – I am not too picky about what the good taste is: I’ve seen attractive bahn mi burger recipes, and enjoyed more traditional savoury meaty burgers as well as ones that taste like vegetables, mushrooms or whatever. I just want them to be flavourful
  • Protein: I want there to be a reasonable amount of protein balanced with carbs and fats. Some recipes are pretty carb heavy, without fats and protein.
  • Limited fillers like bread crumbs and flour. I’d rather have vital wheat gluten included in the recipe as a binding agent, since it’s high in protein and gives a nice texture.
  • Nuts or seeds as an ingredient: Not essential, but ideal, because they are delicious, nice textured, and provide healthy fats.
  • Pulses as an ingredient: I have a lot of lentils and beans that I would like to eat more of, and they are a good source of carbs, and more filling than grains (to me).
  • Solid: I like burgers that don’t crumble or fall apart too easily.
  • Mostly whole ingredients.
  • Not too many different ingredients, or ones that are unusual or more expensive than they are worth. An ideal recipe would come together pretty quickly with stuff I usually have on hand, more or less.
  • Flexible – I like being able to play with a recipe without disastrous results.
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Squash Wars: Mini Kuri

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I don’t know the exact variety of this squash: just that it is a small kuri. Its flavour is somewhere in between the delectable Sunshine and disappointing Orange Kuri – not too bland, but I wouldn’t rate it highly either. It’s just OK. The flesh was thinner than Sunshine so it baked really quickly, and the texture is very similar to Orange Kuri – dense and good to very good. Like other Kuris, it has an abundance of large seeds in a fairly dry seed cavity, so ideal for eating.

It’s fine, but I can’t see any reason to choose it over Sunshine, which is similar but tastier and with better texture.

Things I do with Bad Squash

By bad squash, I mean sweet but bland and overly sweet squash; squash that was picked immature, badly bred, or a variety that was grown to be mostly decorative or something.

  1. Peel the raw squash, grate it, and marinate it overnight (or longer) in lemon juice and/or cider vinegar, salt, pepper and (if you like) spices. It softens, and turns into a nice dish sort of like a vinaigrette carrot salad.
  2. Squash and white bean soup: the white beans, blended into the soup, counterbalance the sweetness. I add onions and garlic for flavour as well.
  3. PIE! Of course you can make a pumpkin pie of just about any squash, except spaghetti, and maybe Futsu (but you wouldn’t want to waste these squashes on pie anyway, of course). I would have added Nippon Island to this list too, except that another name for it is Japanese Pie, so who knows?
  4. Cake, squares, muffins, popsicles, ice cream, etc. See PIE above.
  5. Smoothies: raw grated squash or (unsalted, unoiled) cooked squash is so good in a smoothie, especially with cinnamon, nutmeg, and frozen banana.
  6. Alcohol: I made Butternut squash ale.
  7. Fudgy squash: roast sweet squash without oil or salt until it’s very well done and soft. Cut into cubes and toss with cocoa and dried fruit like mulberries, raisins, or golden berries. It’s a delicious and healthful dessert.
  8. 2-ingredient “ice cream”. The internet has all sorts of 1-ingredient banana ice cream recipes. It’s basically just freezing a banana or two and blending it (with water if necessary) in a food processor until it’s thick and creamy like soft serve. It’s actually pretty incredible how much like soft-serve it it. It works with a banana plus frozen squash (roast without  oil and salt and cube before freezing). Nice additions include cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, cocoa, etc.

Squash Wars: Queensland Blue

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Queensland Blue, one of the many Australian blue squashes, is better tasting than the more popular Jarrahdale, according to Amy Goldman. To me it has a good but not excellent flavour – it’s blander and less sweet than kabocha or Sunshine, so maybe a good choice for when you want some squash flavour but it doesn’t have to be the star. Really the texture is what makes it stand out to me – it’s potato-y and smooth. The flesh is a nice pale orangey-yellow.

The seeds are large but flat, fine for eating. Overall I would have it again, but only if my favourite varieties weren’t available. I would rate it slightly higher than an average butternut, I suppose.

Squash Wars: Strawberry Crown

IMG_2005Strawberry Crown is unusual: it has a distinct melon-y flavour and a texture sort of like a cross between spaghetti squash, cantaloupe, and a delicata squash; crisp, coarse and thin – almost watery. It doesn’t have the dense richness of my favourite squashes, but it’s good. It’s just not great plain roasted by itself. It wouldn’t be my first choice for soup, either.

It is great roasted, frozen in chunks and then blended into a smoothie or frozen banana “ice cream”. I added some allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon and it was like eating frozen pumpkin pie filling for breakfast. So that was coobox-graterl. It’s also good sliced raw into ragged ribbons on the large, smile-shaped holes of a box grater (see pic.) and then marinated in oil, vinegar, and salt or soya sauce for a salad. So, yeah, I would say this squash certainly has its uses and I am happy to have found it at the farmers’ market, since I had only seen this variety in books and online before.

Strawberry Crown’s seeds are great for eating too: huge, fat, and bright white, and easy to separate from the squash innards.

 

 

Squash Wars: Delicata and Sriracha Seeds

I surprised myself by actually really liking this delicata. I’ve had several that were bland and watery, and didn’t get why people liked them, but this one was a winner.  It was sweet and subtle but definitely distinctly squash-y tasty. Rounds of it grilled up on a waffle iron in under 10 minutes.

Like other squash in the c. pepo species, its seeds are pretty small, and probably not worth eating if you’re like me and have lots of big, fat c. maxima seeds around. Speaking of seeds, yesterday I dressed some (maxima) squash seeds in sriracha sauce before dehydrating them, and they are amazing. All I did was rinse them, and then (without drying) squirt on a moderate amount of sriracha, mix them to coat, and throw them in the food dehydrator for a day. It would probably work in a low-heat oven as well.