Burgers, dogs, sausages, sure. But what do you grill up for the vegetarian that just got home from her liberal arts college in Vermont and has given up meat?
Hear me out...these classy lentil quinoa burgers are hardly relatable to the mooing variety, but they are a wonder all their own. Slightly crispy on the outside, soft and tender in the middle with a strong touch of curry spice, they’re perfectly balanced with one of my two favorite jams: Blake Hill Preserves Chipotle and Maple Chili Jam or Chocolate Raspberry Jam with a hint of cinnamon (trust me on that one) from Grafton, Vermont
Add a layer of baby Swiss cheese from Dakin farm, and I’m coming for dinner. You just cannot beat Vermont’s food products. I lived in Maine for a year, and I couldn’t believe the difference. And I love Maine.
The best way to cook the burgers once they’re formed into patties is on a flat top or stainless-steel pan, but a well-scraped and greased-up grill works wonderfully if you’re using a metal spatula. Naturally they’re customizable, but the savory spices in this recipe make them the perfect accompaniment to a soft, sweet bun -- like a brioche -- and with a sweeter sauce to broaden the flavor profile.
And for me, you just can’t beat Blake Hill.
Now because lentils are starchy and the quinoa is fibrous, they’re perfect material for making burgers. The psyllium husk and flax are key: they’re binding agents that can hold just about anything together. The carrots keep the burgers soft, and the outside will crust up as you grill them.
Pro Tip: tell the college student to turn down Cat Stevens and refrigerate your burgers before grilling them. This helps them keep their shape while on a hot, oiled surface.
My choice is always a spruced-up aioli in addition to a spicy jam. The combination of spicy and creamy with a sweet onion or chili jam contrast perfectly with a cold, crunchy pickle and salad greens. Top that with a toasted brioche bun and you have a perfect, multi-faceted flavor profile with layers and layers of taste experience with every bite. The hard crust of the burger brings a subtle bitterness and smokiness, the chilies hit the back of the palate and each bite is quieted by the soft sweetness of the jam and brief pucker of fresh, Vermont produce.
I make my own quick pickles with Vermont cukes around this time of year, but store-bought half sours or sandwich dills work fine.
When grilling, sides are something I’m passionate about. My two favorite of all-time sides are grill-pack potatoes and grilled corn with a chili aioli. I usually soak my corn for 15 minutes husk-on, and then grill wet with the husk on right next to my burgers. If you put the corn on just a few minutes before the burgers, generally they turn out perfectly cooked at the same time.
Husk just before eating Mexican street-corn style with a spicy aioli and some salt and you are good to go. Crack the wine, and make sure she’s a chilled light, bright Chard, Sauvignon or Rose that’s been in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
I will never stop singing the praises of foil pack small potatoes. Three tablespoons of butter, a tablespoon of rosemary, a teaspoon of salt and an envelope of tinfoil. Wrap them up so they’re semi air-tight, toss them on the grill and you’re golden. Potatoes are one of the unsung heroes of the barbecue -- baked is nice, but when grilled in a foil pack their skins pop and the flesh is creamy and they’re darned fun to eat. My favorites are purple potatoes and fingerlings, all of which you can find right here at Farmer’s Markets in Vermont!
The two best parts about these sides: they are the two easiest and crowd-pleasing ones known to man, and they both grow in our state!
Happy Fourth of July
Whether you’re chilling by the pool or grilling by the lake, my hope is that you all enjoy your Fourth of July. It is a day of remembrance and pride for myself and my family, and we honor it every year with togetherness, relaxation and contemplation. After a year of isolation and distance, my personal wish is that every Vermonter can celebrate their Fourth of July with the ones they love.
Even if that means throwing something vegetarian on the grill, because that’s what my dad was doing when I came home to family. Happy Fourth of July.