Cauliflower Sliders

cauliflower 3 4.1.14I thought, “Hey, cauliflower steaks have been a thing now for a while, why not cauliflower sliders?” It was a Friday night, my husband and I were sipping on beer, I had a head of cauliflower in front of me, and a food processor, too (a recent gift from my daughters who’d known it was on my wish list).

Sure, you could call them cauliflower patties, but make them a little smaller, snack size, and now, poof!, they’re fun bar food in the comfort of your own home!

My list of ingredients: dandelion greens, shallot, garlic, cauliflower, organic frozen soybeans (thawed), jalapeño, shiitake mushrooms, an avocado, and organic corn tortillas.

Part 1:

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens, leaves and stems chopped
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves

While oil heated in a pan over medium heat, I peeled the shallot and garlic and minced in the food processor, using the pulse button. Added to the pan. Pulsed the dandelion stems til minced. Into the pan. Pulsed the dandelion leaves til minced…added to the pan. The simmered greens would bring moisture to the patties. I put the lid on to cook through. They cooked maybe 5 or 10 minutes, while I prepared the other vegetables for part 2.

Part 2

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 10 oz. thawed organic soybeans
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded

I pulsed each of these separately til minced. Emptied them into a large bowl. Seasoned with salt and pepper. The mix at this point was light, sweet and coleslawish.

To this, I added the sautéed dandelion greens, shallot and garlic mixture, and checked again for seasoning. It had a nice flavor, with the cooked greens adding a depth to the other raw ingredients. And it looked beautiful, like a fluffy grain dish in shades of green.

To form the sliders, I added two eggs to bind the mix, and got 25 2″ patties from this. Placed in the refrigerator to set, while I got toppings ready.

Toppings

  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, destemmed
  • 1 avocado

Heated oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. I cut the mushrooms into about 1/4″ slices. Tossed them in the pan, and let them cook, turning from time to time. The idea is to let them cook til crispy. Some people do this in the oven. While the mushrooms cooked down, I halved the avocado, cut into slices, and set aside.

To finish off the sliders, I heated oil over medium heat in the pan I’d had the greens in, pulled the patties out of the fridge, and began to sauté the sliders. I also heated the oven to 300°. As I cooked up the sliders, I put them on a pan and into the oven to stay warm. Actually only made half of these, put the other half, separated by sheets of wax paper, in the freezer.

As I cooked the sliders, the mushroom continued to shrink and get crispy. They took at least 20 minutes to get to a browned and shrinking state, and then I just kept an eye on them while I cooked off the patties, so they got crispier but not burned.

When everything was done, I took out organic corn tortillas, and heated one at a time over an open flame to soften. Cut them in half, one slider per half. Topped with a buttery avocado slice, and a few crisp shiitake pieces.

cauliflower 1 4.1.14Now, I have to admit, they didn’t end up being quite what I’d wanted. I had wanted more kick, more juicy but firm. More oomph, because cauliflower can take it. One less egg maybe. Definitely at least one more jalapeño. And I forgot to add the cilantro I’d bought specifically for this, which is why I didn’t put it in my ingredients list, but would certainly have been an excellent addition!

Still, I like this idea. And I will say that corn tortillas, crispy shiitake and creamy avocado are a great way to serve these sliders.

A little tweaking to do on this one, but worth a repeat.

Cauliflower sliders…fun bar food for a Friday night at home.

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Summer Cabbage

cabbage 3 7.14.13With berries and cherries and peaches and beans and chard and, well, all the wonderful seasonal things showing up at farmers markets and grocery stores, I didn’t expect to be writing about cabbage. Something, that despite its use in salads, like crisp coleslaw, I associate more with winter. And which, let’s face it, doesn’t really seem as lush and sexy as berries and cherries and peaches and…!

But I came back from a few days away over the 4th, and there in my fridge were a beautiful head of green cabbage and a beautiful head of purple cabbage just waiting to be used, and that had been picked fresh from a friend’s garden just before I went away.

As seasonal as the others…my summer cabbage.

Maybe because I like reubens and specials, my thoughts turned to how to use it in a sandwich. But probably also because I just plain like sandwiches, whether between two slices of bread, on a roll, wrapped….

So I pulled out whole-wheat tortillas, the green cabbage, garlic, extra-firm tofu, a lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, an avocado, basil, and a yellow cayenne pepper I picked from our garden.

First I sliced eight ounces of tofu and laid the slices in a baking dish. I squeezed juice from the lime into a small bowl, to which I added two teaspoons of soy sauce, one teaspoon of sesame oil, one minced garlic clove, and a couple grinds of pepper. The soy sauce and sesame oil balanced the lime juice. Poured that mix over the tofu to marinate.

cabbage 2 7.14.13While the tofu marinated, I heated enough canola oil to coat a pan over medium to medium-high heat, and cut the green cabbage in half…and then that half in half to get a nice wedge, leaving the core in. Keeping the core allowed me to slice the wedge into slices, which I sautéed in the pan with a clove of minced garlic tossed in, and salt and pepper to season. Five minutes or so per side, til nicely browned.

Cabbage slices sautéing, tofu marinating. I charred the cayenne pepper over the open flame of a burner, then thinly sliced it at a bit of an angle to get rings. When I got to the top of it, where most of the seeds were, I poked them out with the tip of my knife.

I removed the cabbage to a dish, added a little more oil to the pan, and then sautéed the tofu slices along with the marinade. As the marinade cooked off, the slices browned.

Used half the avocado and cut in slices. Rolled several basil leaves up and cut them into thin shreds.

Assembly. On a whole-wheat tortilla, softened/charred a little over a burner: a cabbage slice, a few tofu slices, a few avocado slices, a couple of pepper rings, some shredded basil. Rolled up.

cabbage 1 7.14.13

Had a grilled quality sans grilling. Avocado brought a nice creaminess, peppers had a kick!, all with the back notes of lime and basil. Some parts of the cabbage were crisp, and some soft, all with that nice mellower taste cabbage gets when it’s cooked.

A terrific summer cabbage wrap.

Sometimes You Have to Do It Yourself

Like a burger with sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese.

quinoa 1.6.13

A great little casual food place in town has teased me plenty in the past with its black-and-blue black bean burger, and never delivered on the promise. I don’t think it’s on their menu anymore. But, for a while, it was. And it always sounded good.

A black bean burger, sautéed mushrooms and red onions, and crumbled blue cheese. When I’d call to order, they’d be out of one ingredient or another, and so I’d get something else, always very good, but never The One.

So here I am cooking with quinoa for a few weeks, and on the back of that Trader Joe’s tricolor quinoa package I bought for last week’s stuffed acorn squash, I see a recipe for a quinoa black bean patty. Well, I thought, here’s my chance. DIY.

I decided to follow the recipe as is, and I’ll say right from the start that it’s a tasty combo, but wasn’t the firm burger I really wanted. The mixture felt looser as I shaped it into patties than I’d have done myself if I was eyeballing it. But I decided to just go with it and see what the suggested proportions created. It created a beautiful patty that crumbled easily, which makes it fine for putting one or two on a plate as a main course with a veggie and a salad, or even served on the salad itself. For a firmer burger,  I’d up the black bean ratio with the quinoa next time, probably do half quinoa and half black beans, then add bread crumbs to the mix til I got the firmer consistency I wanted. And then, after I had the consistency I wanted, mix an egg in to bind it.

Having said all that, here’s the basic recipe, which you can then tweak to suit how you want to use it.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa Black Bean Patties

  • 3 tablespoons oil (your choice), plus additional to cook the patties
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in water or broth)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet, add red peppers and sauté until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and continue to sauté until soft. Remove from heat, cool for a few minutes, then scoop into a bowl with the black beans and cilantro. You may put this in a food processor to combine, per the recipe. I am currently food-processor-less, so I mashed the beans with a fork and even by hand to break them up, and that’s why I finely diced the vegetables I sautéed.

Mix in the quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add a beaten egg, if using. I used it, because an egg can help bind everything together, and I thought it might help here.

Divide into 8 patties and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Heat additional oil in the pan. Dredge the patties in the bread crumbs, and fry until browning on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

While the patties were in the fridge to set, I heated up the leftover oil in the pan, which was a deeper color from when it started, having absorbed some of the juices and flavor from the bell pepper and shallot. I added a little more oil and a couple tablespoons of butter. Into that I added one large red onion that I’d cut in half and thinly sliced, letting the onions brown and slump over medium heat, about 10 minutes. I thinly sliced a 10-oz. container of cremini mushrooms and added that, with another bit of butter, and cooked for another 5-8 minutes. Then I added 1/4 cup of white vermouth. (If I’d had a bottle of white wine open, I might’ve used that), turned the heat up a little, and let it cook down. Then I tossed in the rest of the chopped cilantro I had, a good handful.

I scooped all that into a bowl, set it aside, and then the pan was ready to fry the patties in.

To serve the burger on, I got a nice whole wheat loaf of bread, with some softness to it, because whenever you have a stacked sandwich, the bread’s got to have some give. You don’t want all the ingredients squeezing out, though, in this case, the crumbly patty, well…crumbled anyway! I did toast the bread a little, to warm it, but still keep that give.

The assembly: a half slice of the bread, baby spinach leaves on that, then a few thin slices of avocado, the quinoa-black bean patty, the mushrooms and onions, just a little blue cheese broken over the top, and the other half of the slice of bread.

Delicious flavors together, whether neatly stacked…or deconstructed!