Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spinach Tofu Burgers

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This week was our turn to host the recipe for the food matters project.  We wanted to pick a recipe that was both accessible and versatile (not hard to find in Bittman's book).  But we also wanted a recipe that the other food matters project participants could customize in ways that reflect their favorite flavors and ingredients.  We thought that a veggie burger would be the perfect slate for us all to start with and embrace the food matters project ideals.

Typically, the veggie burgers we make are bean based (and delicious), so not including them in this recipe was a new concept to us.  We were also interested in the Asian flavors that went into this dish, as opposed to the usual earthy flavors in veggie burgers (chipotle, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, etc.).  As the hosts this week, we followed Bittman's recipe exactly and loved the results.

These burgers were light, yet filling, with a crispy exterior (thanks to grilling them on a George Forman grill) and moist interior.  The Asian flavors are definitely unique, but proved to be refreshing and well balanced (particularly the crunch from the sesame seeds).

We topped our burgers with sliced tomato and our dill tofu mayo (from last weeks food matters project recipe) and placed it between two soft and grilled buns.

We hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and look forward to seeing everyones take on it!

Spinach Tofu Burgers
From The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
Makes: 4 servings       Time: 40 minutes

1 pound spinach (frozen is fine)
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves
1 block firm tofu (about 1 pound), patted dry
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole grain and homemade, or panko
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil, or more as needed

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it; fill a large bowl with ice water.  Add the spinach to the pot, stir, and let cook for no more than a minute, then drain and plunge it into the ice water.  (If you're using frozen spinach, just let it thaw before proceeding.).  When the spinach is cold, drain it again, use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can, and chop it finely by hand or in a food processor.  Transfer the spinach to a large bowl.

Put the scallions and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until minced.  Transfer them to the bowl, then crumble half the tofu into the bowl with your hands.  Put the remaining tofu into the food processor and let it run until the tofu is smooth.  Add it to the bowl along with the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a sprinkling of salt and lots of pepper.

Combine the mixture until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed, then form into 4 patties.  (You can prepare the patties up to a day ahead.  Cover them tightly and refrigerate; bring them to room temperature before proceeding.)

Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, slide the patties into the skillet with the spatula.  Alternatively, place burgers on preheated indoor grill or panini press that has been sprayed with oil.  Cook, undisturbed, until they are nicely browned and easy to move, about 5 minutes.  Carefully flip the patties and cook on second side for 3 to 4 minutes more.  Serve on buns or over rice.