Sweet Potato Millet Veggie Burgers

sweet potato burger

I know, I know. It’s not my best photo. I’d take another, with the veggie burger gorgeously styled in a toasted bun with a bright green leaf of Little Gem lettuce and an adorable little cherry tomato on top (and without that weird blob of a burger in the background) but we ate all the veggie burgers. And by “we” I mean Sorin and I because O wouldn’t touch hers for dinner last night. Even though she loved them a few weeks ago. I put one in the poor kid’s lunch today anyway, since I didn’t have anything else to give her. On the side were Goldfish crackers, sliced apple with cinnamon and her half-eaten muffin from breakfast. Why I threw that muffin in, I have no idea.

Packing a school lunch! Holy cow. It’s not easy coming up with delicious, nutritious lunches, is it? Imagine my mom, packing school lunches for 4 kids every day for about 20 years. No wonder I had a tuna sandwich almost every day. I don’t remember minding that tuna sandwich though, even though it was usually a little warm and soggy from being smashed in my backpack then crammed into my locker in a brown paper bag.

If you’re a little bit crabby today like I am and really want to hate someone, then check out what this woman packs for her kids every day. And she has twins and works full time.

Lunches aside, the transition back to school this week has had some rough patches, even though O only had a 2 week break. Sorin was in charge of drop-off for the first two days, otherwise known as the morning torture ritual. I had to endure it this morning. Is there anything worse than walking away from your crying child? Watching the slow build-up to tears, when her face starts to quiver and then her eyes fill up…it’s awful. In O’s words, “it makes my heart hurt.”

But she rarely cries when we bring her to pre-school, so I know this week of tears is just a re-adjument period after getting to spend 2 weeks, 24 hours a day, with Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa. I know she will be fine. And she is.

Her teacher texted me several photos not long after I left, of Ophelia playing in the sand with a huge smile on her face and then getting her feet painted blue so she could “feet paint” on paper. We love her school and she loves her school and watching her become more independent and confident is really, really great. But still, the crying at drop-off has been so sad.

But the reunion in the afternoon, that’s fun. How often in your life does someone come running towards you with their arms open wide, yipping with happiness and planting a big kiss on your cheek? I don’t know when that earnest, unselfconscious affection ends, but I will miss it.

And who can blame her for having a hard time returning from vacation? I haven’t exactly had a stellar work week myself. You know that rainbow colored ball that spins and spins when your computer is stuck? That has been me this week, spinning and spinning, trying to accomplish something and move forward, trying to get my thoughts in order and focus. There is so much I need to do and yet this day is almost over – this week is almost over!-  and there is so much I haven’t done.

I did accomplish one thing this week. I finally turned O’s carseat so it faces forward and she is thrilled. Who knew that 2 1/2 year olds were such vocal backseat drivers? Now that she can see the road, it’s all she can talk about. “It’s green mama! Go!” “Go faster!” “It’s red, the light is red!” “Are we turning here?” “Is this a lot of traffic?” “Why aren’t you driving faster?”

Never a dull, or quiet, moment with a toddler, is there?

Sweet Potato, Millet & Lentil Veggie Burgers

I made a slightly different version of these burgers a few weeks ago that was also delicious. They were a little delicate but held together well. I also found a similar burger with sweet potato, millet and black beans by Cookie and Kate. Her recipe, from Cafe Flora in Seattle, which was the first vegetarian restaurant that I ever ate at, gave me the idea of using old-fashioned oats to bind the burgers. These burgers really do hold together well, but are slightly heavier than the breadcrumb version.

Ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1/4 cup raw millet (or 3/4 cup of already cooked millet)
1/2 cup raw green lentils, rinsed (or 1 cup of already cooked green lentils)
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/3 cup finely chopped basil
1 cup old fashioned oats (can be regular or gluten-free) or 1 cup of whole wheat breadcrumbs made by finely chopping  up slices of whole wheat bread in the food processor
A little olive oil
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes, set them on foil or in a pan, and bake until very soft, about 1 hour.

Put two pots on the stove. In the first pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils. Turn the heat down a little and simmer without a lid for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft but not mushy. Drain.

In the second pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the millet, turn the heat down to low (use the lowest setting on your stove) and cover. Simmer on low for 20 minutes, or until millet is no longer crunchy. Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork.

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

In a large bowl, use a fork to mash up the lentils a little. They don’t have to be completely mashed, just partially.

mashed lentils

Add the sweet potato to the bowl, and mash that up with the fork. Then add the onion, millet, salt, Dijon, ketchup and basil.

In a food processor, pulse the oats until they are very finely chopped but not yet like flour. If using breadcrumbs, then throw pieces of whole wheat bread in the food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.

oats

Add the oats or breadcrumbs to the big bowl of sweet potato, mixing gently until totally incorporated into the sweet potatoes.

If you have time, chill the dough 3o minutes before making the burgers. I never have time, and the patties still come together okay.

Make about 6 large burger patties (using 1/2 cup of the sweet potato mixture) or twice as many smaller ones. If you have a biscuit cutter, use that to shape perfect patties. Or, make wider, thinner patties for a crispier burger.

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook a few burgers at a time for 3 to 4 minutes a side. They should be nicely browned and warm all the way through.

I often serve these without buns, with ketchup or mayo on the side. They make a hearty meal on a toasted bun, though, with all the usual burger fixins.

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