Friday recipe: summer squash burgers

I love the The Washington Post’s weekly “Lean & Fit” e-mail message, which offers news-you-can-use about nutrition, exercise, health care and more – including some always-tasty recipes. A recent edition included an interest summer squash burger recipe, adapted from “The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet” by Joni Marie Newman (Fair Winds Press, 2011). The timing is perfect for the proliferation of zucchini and squash that erupts this time of year in the Midwest.

These burgers are best served just after they are made, so the bit of crispness on the outside remains intact.

Photo: Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Summer squash burgers

  • 1 1/2 large yellow squash
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, preferably not of Chinese origin (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 cups plus 1 teaspoon flour
  • 3/4 cup plain regular or low-fat Greek-style yogurt (may substitute plain soy or other non-dairy yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk (may substitute non-dairy milk)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika or smoked Spanish paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 toasted buns, for serving

Line a mixing bowl and a plate with several layers of paper towel. Trim the squash and zucchini, then cut each vegetable into 2 or 3 pieces. Use a box grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding disk to grate them, yielding at least 1 1/2 cups each. Transfer to the lined mixing bowl. Grab handfuls of the shredded vegetables and squeeze them over the sink to expel as much moisture as possible. Discard the paper towels and return the vegetables to the bowl.

Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan a few times so the nuts pick up an even golden color. Remove from the heat.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Meanwhile, cut the shallots into very thin rings. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the flour and toss to coat evenly.

Shake any excess flour from the shallots, then carefully add the rings to the oil. Fry for about 1 minute, using tongs to move the shallots around to keep them from burning. When they are just crisped and lightly golden, transfer to the lined plate.

Add the cooled pine nuts, the remaining 2 cups of flour, the yogurt, milk and paprika to the shredded vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then use your clean hands to blend the mixture and form 4 good-size balls that you flatten slightly into thick patties.

Add a small pinch of the zucchini mixture (from one of the patties) to the skillet; if it burns on the edges right away, reduce the heat to medium. Then follow up by adding the patties, making sure they have at least 1/2 inch of room around them. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisped on the bottom, then use 2 spatulas to turn each one over and cook on the second side for about 3 minutes or until you can see browned edges on the bottom. Transfer to the lined plate, moving the crisped shallots aside.

Transfer to individual plates, placing them on top of the toasted buns, with your favorite condiment on the side. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Chinese pine nuts have been implicated in some cases of “pine nut mouth,” in which the nuts leave a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth that lasts for several days.

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