Category Archives: Main Course

Recipe Roundup for a Chestnut Menu

When it comes to menu planning, I like to weave an ingredient through each course. In this way, I explore its nuances as well as challenge myself to use that food in unsuspecting ways lest my guests feel like they are eating gruel. For this wintry meal, I dove into chestnuts, and I even incorporated them into the loose, wintry pine garland on the dinner table.

Chestnut Recipe Roundup by With The Grains 01

A Chestnut Themed Menu

Creamy Chestnut Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian)
Roasted Chestnut & Herb Stuffing (Vegetarian)
Whole Wheat Chocolate Layer Cake with Chestnut Cream & Dark Chocolate Ganache

Bon Appétit!Quelcy Signature

Chestnut Soup by With The Grains 01

Creamy Chestnut & Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian)

With the phrases “winter weather watch” and “storm advisory” hanging heavy in the air, the grocery stores teeter on the brink of milk, egg and bread depletion. Though I’d advocate for a fair fight for the last crusty loaf, I have this creamy, vegetarian, snowstorm survival idea to offer you: Chestnut Mushroom Soup!

Creamy Chestnut & Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian) // www.WithTheGrains.com

In a world of titles and categories, I lump myself with the “conscientious omnivores,” but chestnuts could nearly sway me to the vegetarian crowd. Spoonful after warm spoonful, the roasted chestnuts could easily fool you into believing meat lurked in this creamy soup.

Creamy Chestnut & Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian) // www.WithTheGrains.com

So hit the grocery store, fight for the last crusty loaf of bread, and while the milk and eggs create a diversion, scrounge that lingering holiday offering of chestnuts. Then, cozy into the weekend with a big batch of hearty, vegetarian soup.

Creamy Chestnut & Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian) // www.WithTheGrains.com

Bon Appétit!

Quelcy Signature

Chestnut Mushroom Soup (Vegetarian)
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 12 servings

About This Recipe: The process of roasting and shelling chestnuts can be a bit tedious, but the end result is worth the experience! Hearty and meaty, this vegetarian soup pairs well with buttery brie on dense, whole grain bread. For a vegan option, use coconut oil for the sautéing, and garnish with a whipped coconut cream. 

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Pork Roast by With The Grains 06

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast

Soon, (all too soon!), the ball will be dropping, champagne will be popping, and couples will be smooching. It’s almost time to usher in 2016! How will you celebrate? With pork?

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

In some countries, including Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Austria, pigs symbolize progress. One explanation is these animals never move backward. Another explanation stems from pigs’ feeding habits (they push their snouts forward along the ground when rooting for food). Either way, it’s good luck to start the year with pork. (Apologies to my vegetarian and vegan readers- noodles are also good luck!)

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you’re going to start a brand new year with pork, it’s a good excuse to try something fancy, and this is where I defer to the expertise of a butcher (this is also how I still maintain all ten fingers). Fortunately for me, this steel town has seen a resurgence of butchers, including the Butcher on Butler. After making my request, I watched in awe as he finessed this roast with an assortment of intimidating knives, all while telling me the story of how he came to be the butcher on Butler Street.

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

The butcher shop had been a butcher shop as long for as he could remember. The previous owner had faithfully served his neighborhood into his old age. After he passed away, his widow didn’t know what to do with the shop. A neighboring bank had offered to buy the building to turn it into a parking lot. Gone would be the antique cooler with its hefty hardware. Gone would be this little plot of history. Gone would be the counter where neighbor after neighbor ordered the roasts and cuts for special occasions. This is when the current butcher, then a chef, had the idea to buy it and continue the legacy. The widow was overjoyed!

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

The building wanted to be a butcher shop. It was a community staple, and her husband’s life’s work would continue to blossom instead of being buried under layers of concrete. These stories of tradition and legacy melt my heart.

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

The modern butcher faces a slew of new obstacles- GMOs, confinement pens, hormones, cheap diets, inhumane practices, etc. What’s especially inspiring about this story is how the new butcher carried on the community traditions of a small, local shop, with the new set of quality standards- locally raised animals, trusted sources and quality products. Like the progressive, forward moving pig, the local butcher shop moved into the modern era!

French Style Herb Crusted Pork Roast // www.WithTheGrains.com

So here’s to traditions and amendments, progress and fresh starts! Here’s to the coming New Year and fancy feasts!

Quelcy Signature

Herb Crusted French Style Pork Roast
Adapted from Food & Wine

About This Recipe: Have your butcher “french” (remove the meat from) the rib bones for you. The uncooked herb-rubbed pork roast can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before roasting. Food & Wine suggests pairing this succulent loin roast with a full-bodied red with enough flavor to stand up to its crisp, spicy crust, such as an Australian Grenache. 

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Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup with Sage // www.WithTheGrains.com

Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup with Sage

How many phone numbers, excluding your own, do you know by heart?

Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup with Sage // www.WithTheGrains.com

215-723-0398

That’s the last phone number I committed to memory. It’s also the first phone number I committed to memory. It was my parents’ home line. Was, being the keyword. One year ago, they moved to a new state, and the phone number, along with many household items, lingered in Pennsylvania. With that move, I lost the last phone number in my memory. I lost 10 digits whose comfort I hadn’t fully appreciated until they were gone.

Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup with Sage // www.WithTheGrains.com

It’s the number I nerdily imagined giving to a boy via my TI-83 geek calculator in high school calculus class (it never happened-shocker!). When people called that number, I responded with all the polite, proper grammar my dad had instructed me to use, “Hello, Kogels’.” “Yes, this is she.” “No, she is not. May I take a message?” It’s the number I dialed every Sunday in college to give my updates, bemoan my stresses and say “I miss you, and I love you.” Those 10 digits may not lead to my mom or dad’s voices anymore, but they remain the numbers I know by heart.

Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup with Sage // www.WithTheGrains.com

That expression- to know by heart– may sound bizarre to someone learning English. How does the heart store information? Yet, it’s exactly how I store that random string of 10 digits. More than a space in my mind and memory, they’re numbers that mean something. They linger with me through comfort and nostalgia, like the steam that condenses on kitchen windows while soup simmers, or the way holiday cookies sprawl over a long, dining-room table.

This Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup may not be the passed-down sort of recipe, but a bowl of this warm, flavorful soup has the power to comfort and conjure nostalgia nonetheless. Whether the digits change, or the recipes change, these are still the numbers and experiences we know by heart.

Quelcy Signature

Creamy Potato Cabbage Soup

About This Recipe: Choose a purple cabbage to give a faint violet hue to this soup. The recipe includes a few resourceful suggestions to waste less. Use the stalk of broccoli, not just the florets. If you have whole milk that has soured, use it in this soup. Alternately, you can use fresh whole milk or buttermilk for tang. For the creamy consistence, you’ll need an immersion blender, a food processor or a regular blender.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering (Gluten Free)

“It’s ok, they might have guns but we have flowers,” the father explained to his son, as the young boy tried to wrap his mind around the violence that had consumed his city.

Flowers and candles. Flowers to fight fears and candles to remember the fallen. The father and son’s poetic exchange, captured on camera, went viral because the world needed flowers and light during such a dark tunnel.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Paris struck a chord with so many because so many of us have experienced the capitol’s charms. However, instead of token post cards or cinematic moments, we francophiles found ourselves retracing our past adventures through unimaginable, horrific news footage. Vicariously, we felt the threats so many feel daily, and as best we could, we conveyed our fears, our sympathies, and our allegiance to the beloved city.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

It was easy to feel for Paris. In my own case, I spent six months wandering the city’s streets, immersing myself in the language and daily life. I debated the best baguette while reading Émile Zola. I documented my routes on a worn map while trying to emulate slang expressions. I sipped coffees while admiring the perfection of the street fashion. As cliche as it was, I felt like I belonged there, like I had found my city. Though I departed, bidding farewell as an accordion player serenaded the canal, I guarded that connection.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

I have not read Arabic literature in Beirut. I have not dined with locals in Bamako. I have not sat in a cafe and admired the rich textiles and traditions of Nigerian cities. I may not have a personal history with these places, but that doesn’t mean I should close my heart to them. I have not given the victims in these cities the sympathies they deserve. I admittedly have furthered the desperation felt in those nations by not cherishing their living, but it’s a wrong I want to right.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

I recently sat in the audience for a screening of the film (T)error (which I can’t recommend enough!). At the end of the film, a Muslim woman, in the traditional hijab, addressed the director. “Thank you for making this film. Thank you for sparking a dialogue. I love Allah. I am a Muslim, but those attackers are not Muslim. They do not represent me.” She expressed the fear she feels when her eight children leave home after, hearing a man on the news say he wanted to shoot the next Muslim he saw. “I am human, and I bleed just like you.”

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Several audience members made their way to the woman as the crowd dispersed. “Thank you for your comments,” they said one by one, touching her gently on the shoulder or leaning in close to her. Like the flowers and candles in France, this woman’s bravery was beauty in the face of fear. Her vulnerability turned fear into power.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thankfully, I haven’t experienced a terrorist attack firsthand, and I hope I never do. I wish no one ever would, but certain evils are prevailing. It may be easier for me to believe in flowers and candles from my safe distance, but how else can we advance positively? I choose to believe in beauty and empathy wholeheartedly, and I will pay more attention to the attacks the media slights.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

If my time in France taught me one thing, it was to appreciate quality– quality of time, quality of friends, quality of wine and the quality of a good meal shared. France taught me to slow down, to savor, to debate, to exchange and to defend time honored traditions. These luxuries are not universal, and especially in America, we ought to acknowledge and share our great fortunes.

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna for a Fall Gathering // www.WithTheGrains.com

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches for those of us in the United States, it’s an apt time to remember how America formed, how generosity and gratitude gathered around a table and celebrated differences. As Thanksgiving draws near, I hope flowers and candles, beauty and empathy will prevail! I hope that our common fears will unite us and not tear us apart.

This is a recipe for sharing. It serves many, so extend the warmth of your oven to those close to you. I shared this lasagna with close friends who inspire me. Each fights, in his or her own way, for a better world. Each of these friends chooses beauty and empathy, and I’m grateful for it.

Quelcy Signature

Pumpkin & Kale Lasagna (Gluten Free)

About this Recipe: Perfect for serving a group, this lasagna tastes like the best of fall! In the spirit of simpler preparations around the holidays, I used an organic canned pumpkin puree instead of roasting my own. The hearty green layer is a quick kale pesto. Use the leftovers wherever you would use a traditional basil pesto. Brown rice noodles make for more flavor, and they make this a gluten-free, crowd-pleasing option. Serve it with Wigle Whiskey’s Walkabout (whiskey + pressed apple cider).

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Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Tips for Building A Grain Bowl

When pangs of hunger interrupt a busy schedule and combine with apathy, a barren refrigerator and a dash or two of laziness, an Amy’s pizza is usually my salvation. (Thank God for that family and their organic pizzas!) However, a better solution is to nip that trifecta in the bud, and one of my best preventative measures is to stock my refrigerator with all the components necessary to make a Grain Bowl.

Rice Bowl by With The Grains

My Tips & Tricks for Grain Bowls

The beauty of the grain bowl is how easily a healthy meal comes together. By prepping big batches of the main components, you can make several wholesome, delicious meals with minimal effort (especially if you need to pack a lunch for work/school). Changing the combinations based on what’s available helps avoid boredom and prevent that long apathetic stare into the refrigerator. It’s also easy to make vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Below are my general starting points for each component.

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The Grain
I used brown rice for this bowl, but I shuffle through a variety of grains like quinoa, farro and wild rice. If you use barley, you can save the liquid and make Lemon & Honey Barley Water. While the grain is in the final stages of steaming, I’ll add a hearty scoop of flax seeds for extra flavor and nutrients.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Steamed
I like to include steamed broccoli and cauliflower. I keep these fairly simple.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Roasted
This bowl features a mix of roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts. Rainbow carrots and beets also work well. For the roasted veggies, I start with coconut oil, then splash them with Apple Cider Vinegar, a LOT of minced fresh ginger, a dusting of turmeric, and a black pepper. The result is a really healthy, flavorful roasted mix.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Raw
There are so many conflicting nutrition guides, so between raw, roasted and steamed in one bowl, I figure I’m bound to reap some benefits! For raw, I top the bowl with bright green avocados and pomegranate seeds. I also like fresh green peas or edamame. Pickled veggies are also a great option for flavor and crispness, especially in the winter.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Proteins
My staples are wild-caught smoked salmon and hard-boiled eggs, or sometimes a sunny-side-up egg. I also add goat cheese crumbles from time to time.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Toppings
The bowl packs so many flavors, a topping is hardly necessary, but I like to add just a drizzle of Raw Coconut Aminos or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. You can experiment with ginger dressings or honey mustard dressings too.

Building a Grain Bowl // www.WithTheGrains.com

Voila! Go forth and grain!

Single-Grain

-Quelcy

 

Greens and Beans // www.WithTheGrains.com

Farm Greens & Beans

“Hi, I’d like to place an order for pick up, please.”

Greens and Beans // www.WithTheGrains.com

“Ok, what would you like?”

“Greens and Beans, please.”

Laughter and confusion ensued, as if I had just ordered a dirty joke with all the delivery prowess of Amy Schumer.

“Ohhhhh, you mean ‘Beans & Greens.'”

Isn’t that what I said?

I failed to see the hilarity in my word order reversal, but then again, I’m an outsider, a foreigner, a newbie when it comes to BEANS & Greens. This dish was not a tradition in my family. It was not a weekly staple. We didn’t debate which grandmother’s secret recipe was better, or whether an aunt used enough garlic. No, this is a staple I am adopting from my current city, from Pittsburgh.

Greens and Beans // www.WithTheGrains.com

This rusty, steel town probably adopted this staple from its Italian immigrants, but I can’t say for certain. The only research I have conducted is the occasional sampling at the small Italian bakery/cafe. It’s the one next to the espresso bar, where the old Italian men while away the day with caffeinated banter in broken English and broken Italian, depending on their generation. Like their changing language, recipes arrive on new shores and change, or in my case, they arrive in my kitchen, and I stubbornly cling to my word order- Greens and Beans!

Greens and Beans // www.WithTheGrains.com

As the Urban Farmer began preparing the farm for fall and frost, it was time to admit defeat on certain groundhog-nibbled vegetables and dig up their rows. The cauliflower and broccoli failed to grow beyond small, geometric clusters, but the plants’ leaves were dark, green, broad and impressive. As I uprooted the plants, the frugal, midwesterner in me brainstormed how to salvage the greens. So it was, dear Pittsburghers and Italians, I came to make Farm Greens & Beans, and we ate bacony, garlicky, parmesan accented greens for a week like happy peasants!

Single-Grain

Here’s to hearty greens!
-Quelcy

Farm Greens & Beans

About This Recipe: If you want a more precise Greens & Beans recipe, try this. My version is loose and easily adaptable. The main intention of this recipe is to take advantage of farm greens such as cauliflower leaves. If you’re not a farmer or gardener, you can still adapt this recipe and use the beet greens or turnip greens available in grocery stores with a combination of kale or collards. Either way, it’s a method to use the whole vegetable and not just a root. The quantity of greens is imprecise but easy to navigate. I wanted to make a large pot, so we used 3-4 hearty bunches, and filled a dutch oven with greens.

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Brown Rice Pasta with Fried Green Tomatoes // www.WithTheGrains.com

Brown Rice Pasta w/ Garden Vegetable Beef Sauce & Fried Green Tomatoes

“You know what I call this?” the Urban Farmer said while proudly photographing the rickety wooden crate full of fresh-picked vegetables. “A case of the Mondays,” he said beaming with pun pride.

Brown Rice Pasta with Fried Green Tomatoes // www.WithTheGrains.com

He chose another caption for his photo, not wanting to offend those stuck in Monday drudgery. I have often hesitated on sharing a pure joy lest it be regarded as boastful, so I understood his reserve. I’m not sure if this stems from deep-rooted American values or a Christian upbringing or both, but hiding happiness is RIDICULOUS, no?

Brown Rice Pasta with Fried Green Tomatoes // www.WithTheGrains.com

I may be riding the emotional highs of listening to a lot of Elizabeth Gilbert wisdom, but who wouldn’t be happy watching that barefoot boy celebrate his dream farm on a weekly basis? Truth be told, Mondays with the Urban Famer were so far from the Mondays I once knew. On Mondays, man, woman and dog piled into the red truck, picked vegetables in the sun and then delivered them to the supporters who made this year’s farm efforts possible. Why would we hide that happiness from imagined miserable people?

Brown Rice Pasta with Fried Green Tomatoes // www.WithTheGrains.com

Today is the last of these CSA Mondays for this season. There will still be farm work to do- bulbs to plant, invasive trees to cut, flowers varieties to select- but the CSA routine concludes today, just as the foggy, gray, frosty mornings are blanketing the fields. It feels more special than sad, more celebratory than conclusive. This was the beginning, and so much is in store! There is still so much room for expansion, so many lessons to teach, so many lessons to learn, and best of all, there will be so many new dishes to eat!

Brown Rice Pasta with Fried Green Tomatoes // www.WithTheGrains.com

The farm calmed my Mondays, calmed my spirit and inspired new kitchen experiments. Monday after Monday, I combed the fruitful tomato vines in search of the bright reds, burgundies and yellows. Despite the challenging weather, the vines persisted with an inspiring abundance. However, the frost brought a new color spectrum- the greens!

I knew fried green tomatoes from the movie title and perhaps the occasional menu item, but I’d never eaten them or made them. I’m sharing Monday happiness with you in the form of these fried green tomatoes. The recipe is loose, like cooking with my mom and her mother before her. Both women knew to follow their instincts, adding a pinch or heap here and there, so allow your traditions and whims to transform this recipe accordingly.

Single-Grain

Happy Monday!
-Quelcy

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A Mint Themed Dinner on the Farm // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Mint Themed Menu Recap

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Mint Themed Menu // www.WithTheGrains.com

In the middle of August, we gathered to celebrate the farmers, the fields and the bounty! As autumn enters gracefully, let us cling to the little bits of summer we can, perhaps all year long. Here’s the menu recap:

A Mint Themed Dinner on the Farm

Grilled Eggplant, Onions & Potatoes with Mint Pesto
Cucumber, Tomato, Roasted Beet & Mint Salad with Greek Yogurt
Grilled Beet & Beef Burgers with Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa and Bleu Cheese
Zucchini & Beet Bundt Cake with a Mint Vodka Glaze

Single-Grain

-Quelcy

 

Beet & Beef Burgers w/ Blue Cheese and Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa

Large, umbrella-like lights filled the space where waitstaff would normally scurry, the cords creating their fair share of death traps. Cooking wine filled glasses that would normally contain a fine vintage. An eclectic group of “friends” and “family” gathered around a reclaimed-wood table and awaited instruction on how to hold their forks, glasses and napkins “naturally.”

Roasted Peach Salsa by With The Grains 01

The photographer and camera dangled precariously above the table. Meanwhile, I tweezered and plucked at the plates, fluffing, spritzing and making them ready for their moment in the spotlight. It was the makings of a restaurant ad.

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That restaurant featured in the ad is one of my favorites. The chef, long before “local” was the trendy buzz word to list on a menu, sourced as locally as possible. Yet his octogenarian clientele showed more appreciation for the granite floors and decadent details passed down from restaurant past. The goal of the ad was to outstretch arms and welcome everyone to the restaurant, everyone including kids.

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The child “actor/model” [ie: the art director’s son] was an astute nine-year-old with a palate for fine dining and artisan fermentation. Together, the nine-year-old and I stared at the shelves of house-made pickles in awe. The budding food critic extolled the virtues of that pickle wall and the restaurant’s menu. Being a loyal fan of the menu’s “fancy burger,” I asked for his review.

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“Oh, I haven’t had their burger. It’s good?” he asked sincerely.

“Yeah, it’s one of my favorites in the city, and they rotate the toppings quite a bit,” I responded as if speaking to any foodie in my peer group.

His eyes lit up, and he had an epiphany, “Oooh, I know! What if instead of the ham in the hamburger, you used peaches?”

“Like, peaches in the burger, or grilled on top?”

“Yeah, in it. Instead of the ham.”

“I’m into it,” I said.

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Despite eating a smoked blue fish pâté, pickled scapes and picking at a tartare, the kid had a ways to go in his understanding of hamburgers. However, he was onto something with his peach idea. I really was into it.

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Hamburgers are practically a food group in my own personal pyramid. My stacks of ingredients never make it to the light of day, when photographing and recipe sharing come into play, but for this burger combo, I exercised forethought and willpower. I veered from the petite foodie’s idea of replacing “ham” with peaches. Instead, I opted to stretch the meat further by adding a coarse beet puree or beat meal because although I believe in eating meat from humanely-raised animals, I may still be guilty of eating too much meat.

Roasted Peach Salsa by With The Grains 03

The peaches still came into play, but in the form of a roasted peach and mint salsa topping, making this burger the main course in my Mint Themed Dinner on the Farm. Paired with blue cheese for a salty, creamy contrast, I dare say even the nine-year-old would be impressed!

Beet Burgers by With The Grains 01

I might still toy with the miniature foodie’s ham/hamburger idea. I laugh now, but who knows? That kid could be the next Dan Barber or Peter Meehan. He may be onto something huge!

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

p.s: Blue or Bleu? You decide.

Beet & Beef Burgers w/ Blue Cheese and Roasted Peach & Mint Salsa

About This Recipe: Adding beets to your burgers is a way to stretch the meat, eat more seasonal produce, and add a subtle sweetness. The texture is a little closer to a sloppy joe than a beef patty, so use foil when grilling to avoid any loss, or experiment with adding a binder such as eggs and breadcrumbs.

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