The original recipe came from a cookbook of an old roommate - for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it - and I've tweaked it somewhat over the years. I like to make up a batch and freeze them for those nights when cooking dinner for myself just seems like the worst. It's a great replacement for those highly processed yet convenient TVP-based products you can find in the frozen food section, and the taste! Oh man. It's a lot of chopping & grating, but it's worth it, if you've got the time.
($12 Polenta-Crusted Sweet Potato & Bean Burger recipe below.)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled & finely grated
2 cups cooked beans of your choice
1/2 oz mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1 cup quinoa, pre-cooked!!!
1 tbsp caraway seeds
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (approximately)
1 cup coarsely ground polenta
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
1) In a large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft & browned - about 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, beans & mushrooms & cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the garlic is soft & fragrant.
2) Remove from the heat. Mash until the beans are half crushed. Stir in tomato paste & season with salt & pepper.
3) Place the bean mixture in a large bowl. Add the sweet potato, quinoa, caraway seeds & cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Season with hot sauce, vinegar & salt & pepper to taste. Add enough bread crumbs to make a firm mixture, and then knead the vital wheat gluten in until you start to see the gluten start to activate. Allow to cool.
4) Form into 8-12 burgers. Spread out the polenta on a clean plate.
5) One at a time, dredge the burgers in the polenta, using your hands to carefully coat both sides. Finish all the burgers & set aside. Use extra polenta, if necessary, to coat them all.
6) Place burgers on a pan and then bake in preheated oven, about 10 minutes on each side.
You can eat them now, or put them in the freezer and grill them later. The pre-baking gives it a nice firm texture, and grilling gives the polenta a nice crispiness. Douse it in barbecue sauce, and seriously, dudes, you will not be sorry.