Farmers Market Veggie Burgers
The Dane County Farmers Market is one of the features that drew me to Madison, Wisconsin, and one of the resources that keep me here. The Market is the largest in the country, with all the products sold directly by their producers. It sets up every Saturday on the beautiful square surrounding the Capitol in Madison (moving indoors for the winter), and it is bountiful and varied enough to supply primary provisions for many marketers. Most of these burger ingredients can be found at the Market, and this burger represents the bounty of southern Wisconsin.
Orchard Bounty Salsa Ingredients
vegetable oil for coating the grill
1 small, ripe tomato, halved, and drained slightly if very juicy
3 small, ripe plums, halved, pits removed
1/4 of a large yellow bell pepper (or half a small one), seeds and veins removed
1 small jalapeno, halved, seeds and veins removed
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 of a small, firm apple, peeled, cored, and grated
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 ear of corn
2 teaspoons Colavita olive oil
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, washed well, and chopped or shredded
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 cup hickory nutmeats (walnuts can work as a substitute)
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices hearty whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained, or 2 cups cooked white beans
1 small, sweet onion, such as cippolini, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoons Sutter Home Pinot Grigio, as needed
vegetable oil for coating the grill
A-Capitol-Idea Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup prepared mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
6 good quality, soft whole wheat sandwich buns, split
24-30 small, tender baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and thoroughly dried, any tough stems removed
Preheat a gas grill to high heat.
Prepare Orchard Bounty Salsa.
Lightly oil the grill grates, or a vegetable basket if the salsa ingredients seem likely to fall through the grates. Grill tomato halves, plum halves, yellow pepper, and jalapeno halves until they just start to soften but are not mushy, ideally with some deep brown or blackened spots (some pieces will probably need to be removed before others). Remove from heat, drizzle with honey, and set aside to cool.
Combine apple, salt, black pepper, and vinegar. When cool enough to handle, cut tomato, plum, and yellow pepper into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch dice, and add to apple mixture. Mince jalapeno, and add to salsa. Stir in mint. Set aside at room temperature (or refrigerate if not continuing the recipe immediately).
Adjust grill temperature to medium high.
Make Veggie Burger mixture.
Remove husks and silk from corn. Grill over medium high heat, turning occasionally, until the kernels have some brown, but not black, roasted spots, about 10-15 minutes. Remove to cool, then strip kernels from cob.
While the corn is cooking, heat a small, heavy, fire-safe skillet on the grill. Add olive oil, spinach, and garlic, and saute just to wilt the spinach. Remove seasoned spinach from pan to cool and drain on paper towels. Pat dry.
Wipe the skillet clean with a dry cloth or paper towel, and return it to the grill. Toast the nuts in the skillet, watching carefully so they don’t burn, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to cool, then roughly chop.
Wipe the skillet dry again, and toast the mace, cayenne, paprika, and black pepper, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pulse the bread pieces in a food processor to make fine, evenly chopped fresh breadcrumbs. Remove about half of the crumbs.
Add the beans, onion, egg, salt, nuts, and spices to the breadcrumbs in the food processor. Pulse to combine and mash, but not to puree. Add cheese, corn, and seasoned spinach, and pulse again just to combine. Adjust the texture by adding some of the reserved breadcrumbs or a little pinot grigio to get a moist mixture that holds together when pressed lightly. (If the wine isn’t needed, add it to your glass and enjoy!) Cover and refrigerate the mixture for about 15 minutes, if possible (longer is OK, too).
Prepare A-Capitol-Idea Sauce.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: thoroughly combine mayonnaise, lime juice, black pepper, and sugar. Refrigerate.
Grill Veggie Burgers and buns.
When you are ready to cook the burgers, gently form burger mixture into 6 patties. Lightly oil the grill grates, and cook burgers until well browned, carefully flipping once, about 5 minutes on each side. For the last 2 minutes, set the buns, cut side down, on a cooler part of the grill (around the sides, or at the front or back, depending on how the grill can be adjusted), to warm and slightly toast.
Assemble Farmers Market Veggie Burgers.
Spread A-Capitol-Idea Sauce on each cut side of the buns. Arrange 4-5 spinach leaves on each bun bottom, and top with burgers. Divide the Orchard Bounty Salsa among the burgers, draining the salsa slightly as you portion it if the fruit has exuded too much juice. Finish with bun tops to serve.