The Workhorse and the Squooshy Patties

"Let's get cooking!" my five-year old, Aiden, excitedly exclaims. I groan inwardly, looking at the clock. I know I need to make dinner, but I've already spent the whole day in the kitchen. It's my husband's birthday and he has requested homemade veggie burgers. I'm generally a selfish cook; I like red chiles, lots of garlic, and I don't have much of a sweet tooth, much to the angst of my son, so when a real request is made I can get pretty gung ho. After my morning coffee, I get started on homemade hamburger buns which sadly turned out as slider buns. "Why are they so small?" my son asks. "Well these ones are just for you!" I lie, pulling the container of dough back out of the fridge with a sigh. While the new batch of hopefully bigger buns rests on the counter, I cook the lentils and quinoa required for the patties and Aiden helps make a carrot cake. Unfortunately, the cake promptly falls apart when I release it from the springform pan. My day in the kitchen is not going well and at this point I want to scream, but Aiden is looking expectantly at me. "Well, it's a good thing we're going to frost it." I half-heartedly say. My husband texts me "Do you need anything from the store?" which I know is code for "Do you need me to bring home beer?" Burgers and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly, but I'm not one to follow the rules. "Birthdays are special days and should be celebrated!" I convince myself as I peer inside the case of wine recently procured from Beresan. I contemplate googling wine pairings for veggie burgers but immediately toss the thought aside. "Life's more of an adventure if you take risks" I tell Aiden. I vaguely remember Julia Child saying "Rosés can be served with anything" and pop it in the fridge. My experience with Rosés is very limited and I'm not sure what to make of this pink wine. Is it a white trying to be a red or a red trying to be a white? "Let's get cooking!" Aiden says again and starts to pull out random pots and pans. I sauté the veggies and toss them all in the food processor with the previously cooked lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas and decide that whatever food processor Rachael Ray uses is not what I have. I dump out half of the patty mix and coax my sub-par food processor into doing its job. From previous experience, I know that veggie burger patties don't hold their shape as well as their meat counterparts, so I gently lay them in the pan and think to myself "The worst has to be over now, I'm home-free!" Unfortunately, when I flip the patties they squoosh out to double their previous circumference and threaten to fall apart completely if attempt to resize them. I top them with provolone and cover the pan with foil so I don't have to look at them. I split the still-too-small-hamburger buns and slice my finger open. "Band-Aid!" I yell to my husband as I pour a glass of wine. My stressful day is soon forgotten with the bright fruity flavors reminding me of summer and the surprisingly bold finish makes me want to sip more. "This is the ever burger you ever just made!" Aiden proclaims. "What the heck does that mean?" I ask laughing. "You did a good job." 

I am by no means an expert on wine. I'm just a passionate foodie that enjoys the challenge of selecting a perfect wine to compliment the meal I inevitably put too much time into. I don't follow the rules and I make mistakes, however this time I was spot on. The 2012 Beresan Sangiovese Rosé melded perfectly with the earthy veggie patties and brightened up the meal enough to make a stressful day in the kitchen worth it in the end. I think Julia Child is right and you can serve Rosé with just about anything, making it (in my mind) the workhorse of wines. When in doubt, go with the Rosé! Unless it's carrot cake.... 

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers with Provolone and Italian Ketchup 

(From Rachael Ray's The Book of Burger with my improvements)

Serves 6

Italian Ketchup:

I (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, grated

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and Pepper

Veggie Burgers:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small carrot, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

12 cremini mushroom (the brown ones), chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, chopped

A small handful dried porcini mushrooms

2 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils *see note*

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa *see note*

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted

1/4 cup dried currants or raisins

1 large egg

6 slices provolone cheese

6 crusty hamburger buns

Arugula, dressed lightly with lemon juice and olive oil

Make the ketchup: In a small saucepan, combine ketchup ingredients and bring to a bubble. Turn the heat to low, and simmer and thickened to the consistency of ketchup, 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion, and mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add the thyme and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook another minute or two. Turn off the heat and cool.

Put the dried mushrooms in a food processor. Process to finely chop and then add the lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, and currants. Season with salt and pepper and add the cooked vegetable and egg. Pulse until well combined. You may have to do this in batches. Form 6 patties.

Wipe out the pan used to cook the vegetables and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers 5 to 6 minutes, then flip carefully and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat, top the burgers with the cheese and tent with foil to let the cheese melt while you toast the hamburger buns.

Smear the buns with the Italian ketchup, place the burgers on the roll bottoms, then top with the dressed arugula. Set the roll tops in place. Pour your glass of Beresan Rosé and enjoy!

*Notes to make this better*

First of all, make your patty mixture either the day before or early on the day you plan to make it so it can be well chilled. I discovered the following day, when frying up a patty for lunch that the "squooshed-out-patty problem" was basically eliminated.

For me, 1 cup of dry lentils came out to 2 1/2 cup cooked. Put the lentils in a saucepan and add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to a low simmer with the lid slightly ajar. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Also, 1/2 cup of dry quinoa gave me the 1 1/2 cups cooked needed. First put the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water while rubbing with your hands for a minute or two. This makes the quinoa deliciously nutty and not bitter. Drain well. Heat a saucepan to medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the quinoa and stir until toasted. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes then take off the heat and leave the lid on for 5 minutes.