Encore Edibles: Squash and Stuffing Burgers

[Savory Squash and Stuffing Burgers are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut-free amd yeast-free. Suitable for Stage 2 and beyond on an anti-candida diet.]

gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan stuffing burger recipe on rickiheller.com

Well, it’s officially “holiday season” here in Canada, now that our Thanksgiving has passed. Today’s burger recipe is the first in a new ongoing series I’m calling “Encore Edibles”–in other words, creative use of leftovers! If you have stuffing left over from your own feast (or if you’re looking ahead to your US-based Thanksgiving), read on.

At Thanksgiving in the RH household this year, we had a lot of stuffing to contend with. I cooked up a HUGE casserole full of brown rice stuffing–a new recipe–and while I really enjoyed it, the HH still prefers his bread-based versions.

So, what to do with all the excess that wasn’t eaten the first night? I was inspired by my friend JL, who recently introduced her “My Pantry Project,” in which she invites readers to use up odds and ends in their pantries while creating new recipes. While I’ve certainly got lots of those kinds of ingredients in my pantry, too, it seems that leftovers go to waste too often over here. The HH is not keen on eating the same meal two days in a row (I know, quite the little divo, right?), so over the years I’ve either frozen the leftovers for later, or begun to explore new ways to combine ingredients so he’d never know he was eating a new incarnation of last night’s dinner.

Sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan squash and stuffing burger recipe on rickiheller.com

The trick to successful encore edibles, I’ve found, is combining ostensibly disparate ingredients in novel ways. If it’s done with confidence, it works.  For instance, when I was a teenager, one of The Nurse’s friends embodied my impression of “Cool Feminist.” (Now, I’m not talking about the current understanding of the word, which so many young people seem to confuse with “radical man-hater.” When I once asked my first-semester college students what the title “Ms” stood for, responses ranged from “a divorced woman” to “a lesbian” to “a single mother.” Say what? When did “feminist” become an “F-word”?).

Ms. CF was independent, feisty, feminine and ambitious–all rolled into one. Tall and lanky with broad shoulders, a mane of thick waves the color of black coffee, she resembled a 60s version of Sarah Silverman, both delicate and powerful at once.  Like so many young women of that era, Ms. CF was determined to direct her own destiny; she wished for women to be equal to men in society, to have the same human rights, the same job opportunities, the same pay scale and the same freedoms when it came to sex.

She also possessed an incredible sense of style. Depending on her mood, Ms. CF could sashay into our house alternately wearing a floor-length pink pastel peasant dress, flip-flop sandals and ribbons braided into her long, mahogany hair; or  gray pin-striped pants, high-heeled black pumps and a tailored white shirt through which one could spy her black lace bra. On more casual days, she’d show up in jeans and a polo T-shirt, her wavy locks pulled back in a tight ponytail that swung behind her like her own personal cheerleader waving a pom-pom.

Vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free savory squash and stuffing burgers on rickiheller.com

I was always a little intimidated by Ms. CF, but I certainly admired her unique fashion sense. When she arrived one day wearing brown corduroy pants, purple leather sandals, and a bright turquoise T-shirt, I took one look and thought to myself, “Wow, that’s an unusual pairing. And wow–does it ever look good.” No–actually, it looked great.

After she left, I immediately pillaged my own closet to extract the only brown and turquoise items I owned–a mini skirt and cotton blouse that contained each of those colors. I pulled them on and glanced in the mirror. On me, they just looked . . .  stupid.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it was the self-assurance with which Ms. CF combined those ostensibly clashing colors that made the outfit work for her. She carried it off with shoulders back, head high, and a clear internal equanimity about how she looked. She knew that the ensemble worked for her, so everyone else accepted that those individual pieces of clothing were just meant to go together, too.

I think the same principles apply to cooking and creating new recipes. Over the years, I’ve cultivated that same certainty when it comes to my own edible ensembles. Pairing foods that may not have been blended in quite that way before is both an art, but also, simply, an act of faith. Even if no one else has ever imagined that particular combination before (like, say, the first time you mixed beans and chocolate; or eggplant in cookies; or even a frosting made from sweet potato a few years back), if you mix it up with panache and serve it with your shoulders back and head high–well, your family and friends will just naturally assume that it’s meant to go together.

Faced with all the leftovers from our feast, I did just that. Stuffing mixed together with leftover squash to make burgers? Why not? The burgers are firm and crispy on the outside, meaty and chewy on the inside, with Fall flavors that will put you in a celebratory mood. Our stuffing contained brown rice, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, pecans and a bunch of herbs and spices. It all melded perfectly! I loved these burgers on their own, but they were also terrific with some leftover cranberry sauce.

Maybe it’s not quite a brown, purple and turquoise combination, but let me tell you, this mix of unusual ingredients works. So get empowered in the kitchen, and start mixing! This is a recipe you won’t want to “Ms.” (Groan. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.).

Looking for more creative ways to use leftovers? Check out this fabulous Cranberry Ice Cream.

Gluten-free, sugar-free, candida diet squash and stuffing burgers on rickiheller.com

Cute dogs Elsie and Chaser on rickiheller.com

“Mum, great idea! You know how much WE love leftovers, right? And you don’t even have to mix them with anything. Just give us all that extra turkey straight up!”

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  1. I love the recipe and the title of this new series Ricki, what a great idea! 🙂 I can’t believe the holidays are upon us – where did this year go?

  2. Love the “Encore Edibles” concept Ricki! I actually don’t mind eating regular old leftovers but it is fun to re-purpose them into something unique. Your kitchen confidence is very inspiring too. I’m a LOT more confident in my creative abilities these days but not at your level yet!
    Hope you’ll be sharing your stuffing recipe some time soon.

    • Thanks, Emma! I’d be totally confident with your talent in the kitchen, if I were you! And your photos–!!! 😀 I do plan to post the stuffing, sure, but honestly, I think any stuffing would do. 🙂

    • Annalisa Roy says

      This _does_ look delicious. Yum. I second the request for the stuffing recipe, if you get a chance- I don’t have a GF vegan version. It is so hard at the holidays to think outside of bread and sugar and turkey. Any other help for Thanksgiving dinner would be greatly appreciated!

  3. These look amazing. On the menu for this week!

    • Thanks so much, Yosef! Have you already made stuffing this season? I know US Thanksgiving is next month. . . but I sometimes make stuffing just to do things like these burgers! 😉

  4. these sound delicious and easy enough to be a flash in the pan! Sort of like a modern bubble and squeak. Fortunately we eat leftovers or I would go crazy but I do sometimes need to repurpose them because I don’t fancy them – have some pumpkin soup at the moment I want to recreate. Love hearing about Ms CF but it depresses me to hear your students’ reactions to ‘Ms’ – I know history is cyclical but it still is so sad how little young women appreciate some of the freedoms women fought for not so long ago.

    • I hadn’t thought about Flash in the Pan for these, but you’re so right–if you’ve already got the ingredients on hand, they are really easy to make! I think a lot of women today just take their freedoms for granted. It’s only when you can actually remember women burning bras or all the protests about equal pay, etc. that you realize how far we’ve come. 🙂


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  2. […] Buy and use a chest freezer! I use my freezer for almost everything as a way to ensure I never have to throw away food. For example, I always cook big batches of everything I make–soup, stews, pancakes, waffles, pasta, etc. –and then freeze in single or double serving sizes. If leftovers look like they are about to turn on me, I whip them into something else which I then freeze, like these squash and stuffing burgers from leftovers. […]

  3. […] Buy and use a chest freezer! I use my freezer for almost everything as a way to ensure I never have to throw away food. For example, I always cook big batches of everything I make–soup, stews, pancakes, waffles, pasta, etc. –and then freeze in single or double serving sizes. If leftovers look like they are about to turn on me, I whip them into something else which I then freeze, like these squash and stuffing burgers from leftovers. […]

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