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Spicy Southwest Vegetable Burger with Avocado and Pepper-jack Cheese

I have been a vegetarian for 22 years and happily married to a meat-eater for 15 years, with two children with eating preferences somewhere in the middle. Summer dinners for us mean cooking outside on our grill with a glass of good wine in hand, enjoying the wonderful summer nights & just being together with family and friends. While most of the family enjoys a wide range of foods, I wanted something more than vegetable dishes or packaged veggie-burgers (that can be flavorless and boring!). Sometimes I felt that the meatless dinners for us vegetarians were less exciting and missing that focal point. We love the salads and sides; but the burger is always the masterpiece. The burger is the center of the dinner and the rest of the foods should complement it, not fill in for it! I love my grill and the way my whole family gets involved in cooking, so I got to work to create something that could rival my husband’s awesome beef burgers! I wanted to create a burger that was healthy yet bold and filling, I think with the help of family and friends I’ve achieved that. With a perfect combination of vegetables and flavors I feel that my burger has a wonderful blend of seasoning, a great texture and a little kick. I wanted all the ingredients to blend together, not have one or two overpower. Tasters claim that they don’t miss the meat, feel satisfied and prefer my burger over the packaged veggie-burger alternatives. Even my husband (the devoted beef eater) has sampled my burger and given the thumbs up. I love to experiment in the kitchen, often creating my own concoction if I can’t find the right recipe. I love to complete, be outdoors and love to grill. It would be a dream come true to be chosen for your cook-off!

Ingredients 

2/3 cup red onion
2/3 cup red pepper
1 1/3 cups white button mushrooms
1 cup canned black beans, drained not rinsed
1 1/2 tsp. Minced garlic
2/3 cup fresh cilantro
1 1/4 tsp chili powder
1 3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 cup yellow corn mea
l 1/2 cup olive oil
1 ripe avocado
6 slices pepper-jack cheese
6 whole wheat bakery style buns
Leaf lettuce
1/2 cup fire roasted tomato salsa with jalapeno

Instructions 

Equipment needed: standard food processor, measuring teaspoon, tablespoon & cup, small cutting board & knife, medium mixing bowl and rubber spatula/spoon, 2 small cups for oil and avocado, fork, grill brush and grill spatula. This recipe is cooked on a three-burner gas grill heated to 375 degrees. Total time involved is less than one hour. Preparation: (aprox. 20 min.) Begin burger patties by chopping red onion and red pepper into about one inch cubes, place both into food processor and pulse about five times. Remove stems from brushed mushrooms, discard stems, cut mushrooms into quarters, add to pepper & onion mixture in food processor, drain black beans & add to food processor, add minced garlic, slightly chopped cilantro, mix briefly with spatula to blend in new ingredients & pulse food processor about five times. Add Chili powder and garlic salt, pulse again about three times. Vegetables should be well mixed with the majority well ground but chunks of some veggies and cilantro flakes visible. Pour mixture into the medium mixing bowl, blending in the corn meal 1/3 cup at a time, mixing lightly after each addition – blending well without over mixing! Grilling: Brush heated grill with olive oil. Scoop about 1/6 of vegetable mixture for each burger, forming the patty in hand and gently placing on grill. Cook 12 minutes, brushing top of uncooked side slightly with the oil before flipping over. Cook an additional 8 minutes. Burgers should be mildly firm, moist and have grill marks. Assembly: While burgers are cooking, cut, pit and peel avocado, mash and set aside. Remove burgers from grill place on platter, top with pepper-jack cheese, set aside. Open buns, place open-side down on grill, toast lightly about 2 minutes. Remove from grill, top bottom bun first with a heaping tablespoon avocado, next burger patty topped with cheese, then leaf lettuce. Put a generous tablespoon salsa on top half of bun, finally placing on top of burger.

Comments 

This is a simple yet delicious recipe. The key to making a great texture is to pre-chop the vegetables as stated to ensure a good consistency. Not over using the food processor is important. Over ground vegetables will just create a watery mush falls through the grates of the grill. Although my recipe does not contain an obvious binder, such as egg or cheese in the patty, it's not needed. I make this burger with ease, and it's always delicious!