Summer was made for Bar-B-Q’s! Even those of us who don’t eat meat still love the idea of outdoor cooking, far from the heat of a kitchen stove, the UV rays tickling our skin as we inhale sun-soaked breezes. Firing up the barbie is one of the simplest ways to prepare a meal, and it’s perfect for grilled veggies, grilled pineapple or romaine, burgers, marinated tofu, or any number of other dishes you can think of that would benefit from the smoky, seared, grill-mark effects of cooking over a live flame. And what goes better with those steaming dishes than something chilled until ice-cold?
One of the things I loved about studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist–as much as, if not more than, the food–was the sense of camaraderie, being surrounded by like-minded people every day. Although Toronto is well known as a foodie city, in the suburb where I live, I know precious few folks who follow my kind of diet, and certainly very few of my friends did so back at that time (I’m happy to report that several of them have come to see the “real food-based” light since then).
Every morning at our 11:45 break for lunch, my friends would all congregate in a coterie huddled at the long classroom tables as we each pulled out our food containers like magician David Copperfield withdrawing the chosen playing card out of his jacket pocket. We’d peer into the little boxes, oohing and aahing over each other’s treasures: “Cool, what’s that green stuff? I’ve never seen that before!”; “How did you prepare that arame?”; “Is that organic salmon?”; “You mean you MADE that quinoa bread? Awesome!”–and so on, before we all sat together and ate at the communal table. The enthusiastic squeals would infuse the room as we examined each other’s meals.
One of my favorite teachers in those days was a raw foodist whom we all admired for her knowledge, equanimity, luminous skin, toned physique and, of course, phenomenally successful nutrition, yoga and holistic healing practice. Whenever Caroline lectured, we all listened with rapt attention, a bunch of wide-eyed toddlers at a first reading of Goodnight, Moon. Caroline’s cooking classes were always fully booked, and we vied for those coveted spots.
Along with the classes, each student received a copy of her cookbook. It’s still one of my favorite sources for healthy, easy-to-make recipes that I know will taste great (especially since I’ve already sampled many of them in those cooking classes!). I’ve probably made over half the recipes in the book, but had never tried the Eggplant Burgers (the original version was called “Patties,” but I preferred the more robust “burger”).
These are the perfect recipe for grilling season. Baked first to solidify their shape and later grilled, they hold together beautifully and provide a meaty, sturdy texture and appearance. The flavor is rich, savory and slightly smoky, with a toothsome bite. I served mine simply on a slice of quinoa sourdough, but of course you could go for a classic presentation in a hamburger bun, too. I think they’re a terrific addition to any BBQ menu!
“Mum, we’d love to share in the BBQ, too! We may not be very good at grilling but we’ll help you eat it. . . and we sure are experts at chillin’ out!”
Adapted from Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont
These are an incredibly simple burger to mix together, yet they deliver a complex, multi-faceted flavor in a burger that’s incredibly satisfying, even to meat eaters.
I medium eggplant, whole
Heaping 2/3 cup (90 g) walnuts
2 slices whole grain bread (I used sourdough buckwheat), torn into pieces
2 large stalks celery, chopped
3/4 cup (180 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Herbamare or other all-purpose seasoning of choice
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) dried sage
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Bragg’s Seasoning or wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
Fine sea salt, if necessary, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F (200 C). Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet and poke 2-3 times with a sharp knife. Bake until the eggplant is soft all the way through, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool. Decrease oven to 350F (180C).
In the bowl of a food processor, grind then nuts until they are coarse crumbs. Add the bread and celery and process until finely ground. Add rolled oats and pulse a few times to combine.
Cut the eggplant in half, then scoop the flesh from the skin and add to the processor (discard skin), along with Herbamare, sage, Bragg’s and salt to taste. Allow to sit, uncovered, for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop out mounds of the mixture and shape into patties (I flattened mine to about 3/4 inch or 2 cm thick) and place on cookie sheet. For browner patties, spray lightly with olive oil.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, flipping the patties about halfway through, until browned on the outside and still soft on the inside. For grilling, cool and refrigerate, covered, overnight before reheating on the BBQ or grill. Makes 9-12 patties. May be frozen.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond (with gluten-free bread), sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, nut free, vegan.
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”)
[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]