Sandwiches Vegetarian

Spicy Red Lentil Burger with Cilantro

    Spicy Red Lentil Burger
    Spicy Red Lentil Burger with Cilantro

    So today I thought I might make another lentil salad, but I accidentally overcooked the red lentils. Chango presto, it’s lentil burger time. My hubby had just requested a bean burger not made with soy, so voila. Here’s my opportunity.

    I wanted to make something with real flavor punch that would sing several notes, not just one. So instead of using Curry Powder or even a store-bought Garam Masala, I introduced Indian flavors by incorporating turmeric and fenugreek. Indian isn’t the only note playing here. With cumin and coriander, there’s a little Southwest happening and with the Cayenne pepper, the burger hits the tongue HOT. The fresh cilantro cools and sweetens. Try it today! Super healthy. Totally vegan. No flavor compromise.

    Spicy Red Lentil Burgers
    Spicy Red Lentil Burgers

    Spicy Red Lentil Burgers with Cilantro
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Fenugreek, Cumin, Cayenne and Cilantro come together for a spicy, Indian inspired vegan burger.
    Serves: 4
    • ½ cup dry lentils
    • 1½ cups water
    • 1 small red onion
    • 8-10 mini carrots, chopped in a mini food processor
    • ½ cup raw almonds chopped in a mini food processor
    • 2 cloves chopped garlic
    • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
    • 2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
    • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 4 buns
    1. To prepare the lentils, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add lentils, reduce heat and cover partially. Simmer for about 15 minutes, which will overcook the lentils. Remove from heat and set aside uncovered.
    2. In a separate saute pan, heat a Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add shredded carrots and garlic and continue cooking, stirring frequently.
    3. Add chopped almonds, cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, and fenugreek and continue to saute for a minute or two more while these flavors meld. Then remove from heat.
    4. In a medium large mixing bowl, combine the lentils, onion mixture, cilantro, and salt. Stir to combine well. Shape into 4 patties.
    5. In a large skillet over medium flame, heat the olive oil. Add patties and sautee until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat. Serve immediately. These can be stored and cooked later.


      Beef Sandwiches Sauces Uncategorized

      Béarnaise Burger

        Béarnaise Burger

        I’m going through a tarragon phase right now, and whenever I cook with tarragon, I think of Sauce Béarnaise. Sauce Béarnaise is a butter emulsion sauce like Hollandaise. Hollandaise is flavored with lemon juice while Béarnaise Sauce is flavored with shallots, chervil, pepper and tarragon.

        Sauce Béarnaise on Asparagus

        For this burger, I wanted the flavor profile of a Sauce Bérnaise without actually making Sauce Béarnaise. It’s a legendarily difficult sauce to get right and uses an entire stick of butter. It’s a great sauce that goes well with steak or asparagus or lots of other things. If you want to try making it yourself, try the recipe at Fine Cooking. Feel free to also pour the sauce over a burger, but in this recipe, we take the ingredients of Sauce Béarnaise and add them to ground beef, so they are right in the burger.

        I used Gruyère Cheese on my burger and added sautéed onions and mushrooms. I used 85/15 ground beef to achieve a balance between fat and flavor.

        Bérnaise Burger
        Makes 4 Burgers


        1-2 Tbsp diced shallots
        1/2 tsp fresh chervil, finely chopped (optional)
        1 1/2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped)
        1 egg
        1 lb of ground beef (85/15 or 80/20)
        Salt and pepper to taste
        1 Tbsp butter
        1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
        2-3 Tbsp diced onion
        4 slices of Gruyère cheese
        4 slices of butter lettuce
        4 hamburger buns – I used sandwich thins by Oroweat


        1. Mix the shallots, chervil, tarragon, egg, ground beef, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form into 4 patties. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add the patties and cook for about 7 minutes on each side, depending on how well done you like your burgers and how hot your pan is. Cover, vented, while cooking.

        2. Meanwhile, heat a medium sautée pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions. Sautée until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and continue to sautée until mushrooms sweat out their moisture and start to brown.

        3. Add the cheese to burgers and continue to cook, with the vented cover, until cheese has melted. Toast the buns. Prepare the lettuce slices.

        4. Assemble the burgers with lettuce on the bottom, burger patty with cheese in the middle and mushrooms and onions on top. Serve immediately.

          Panini Produce Sandwiches Vegetarian

          Axell Family California Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich

            Randy Axelles Grilled California Avocado Sandwich

            Did you know that 90% of the nation’s avocados are hand-grown by farmers in California? Many of the California avocado groves are multi-generational and family operated. Randy Axell is one of those growers. As a third generation avocado grower, Axell and his wife, Joanna, have raised their family on 40 acres of land in Santa Paula, Calif. called Rancho Rodoro. It is named from a combination of Axell’s parents’ names, Ross and Dorothy. Axell feels privileged to have grown up on a farm and to have provided the same opportunity to his children.

            CA Avocado Grower, Randy Axelle

            “I love being able to spend every day on a farm and in the groves. It’s very satisfying to be able to grow something from a tiny seed to a full tree,” explains Axell when asked about his favorite part of being a California avocado grower.

            Randy’s passion for growing California avocados is clear in the quality of his trees and the fruit he harvests each season. His farm is operated to the standards of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, a program that requires Randy to document everything he does on the farm as well as implement the best possible management practices to aid in preventing food safety issues. He sees these practices as a natural thing to do, to focus on food safety and sell the perfect piece of fruit.

            To view videos of Randy Axell sharing his stories of growing California avocados, visit his page at the California Avocado Commission website.

            Axell Family California Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich

            Recipe created by California avocado grower Randy Axell for the California Avocado Commission, used by permission.

            Serves: 4

            Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 5 minutes


            4 slices cheddar cheese
            8 slices whole wheat or honey wheat bread
            1 ripe, fresh California avocado, peeled, seeded and sliced
            1 medium tomato, sliced
            4 slices red onion
            Chili sauce, to taste
            4 slices pepper jack cheese
            Olive oil cooking spray


            On each sandwich, place a slice of cheddar cheese, a layer of avocado, tomato, and onion slices. Add chili sauce to taste. Top with pepper jack cheese, and finish with remaining bread slices.
            Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Place sandwiches in skillet and cook until bread is browned. Turn and cook until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

            Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 350; Total Fat 18 g (Sat 6 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 1.5 g, Mono 6 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 610 mg; Total Carbohydrates 33 g; Dietary Fiber 7 g; Protein 19 g;

              Breakfast/Brunch Panini Sandwiches Uncategorized

              Scrambled Egg Grilled Cheese with Leeks

                Scrambled Egg Grilled Cheese with Leeks
                Scrambled Egg Grilled Cheese with Leeks

                To help celebrate Grilled Cheese Month and to join in Panini Happy’s Grilled Cheese Pageant and because I just had a craving for a dish like this, I decided to make an indulgent, grilled cheese sandwich filled with scrambled eggs.

                  Panini Poultry Sandwiches

                  Chicken Parmesan Panini

                    Chicken Parmesan Panini
                    Chicken Parmesan Panini

                    For dinner last night, I made baked chicken breasts coated with bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Since I had leftovers today, I decided to fire up my panini grill. I had fresh mozarella, spinach and mushrooms all on hand, so I figured I’d convert the leftover chicken into a Chicken-Parmesan sandwich.

                    First, here’s how to make the chicken breasts. This is an easy, family-friendly, relatively healthy dish:

                    Parmesan and Breadcrumb Crusted Chicken Breasts
                    Serves 4


                    4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
                    1/4 cup milk
                    8 Tbsp of bread crumbs
                    8 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
                    1 tsp salt
                    1/2 tsp pepper


                    Preheat oven to 375˚F. Spray small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour milk onto a plate or into a dredging pan. Mix bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper and pour onto a plate or into a dredging pan (or use a zip lock bag). Dip a chicken in the milk, then dredge in bread crumb mixture and dust off excess. Place breasts in pan and bake for 25 minutes, (flipping halfway through) or until golden brown and opaque all the way through.

                    To make the Panini:


                    French baguette
                    1 tsp olive oil
                    1/2 cup sliced raw mushrooms
                    pinch of garlic pepper
                    1/4 cup Tomato-basil sauce from a jar
                    A smattering of raw baby spinach leaves
                    1 chicken breast prepared as above, cut into pieces that fit on your bread
                    Thick slices of fresh mozarella (I used 3 – 4 oz)


                    1. Preheat panini press to medium high heat. Heat olive oil is small sautée pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Mushrooms should never enter a pan quietly. There should be a sizzle. Sautée until liquid is released and mushrooms are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

                    2. To assemble the panini: Slice bread in half and smear tomato sauce on both halves of the bread. Add a layer of spinach to the bottom. Then lay chicken breast on top of the spinach, the mushrooms on top of the chicken and the mozzarella on top of that. Top with other slice of bread and put sandwich in the panini press. Adjust the temperature so as not to burn the bread while you are heating the sandwich enough for the mozarella to melt. Because the sandwich was so thick, it took 15 minutes for the cheese to melt adequately.

                    Tools I used for this dish are available at

                      Appetizers Panini Pizza and Pasta Sauces Uncategorized

                      The Perfect Ragù alla Bolognese

                        Spaghetti alla Bolognese
                        Spaghetti alla Bolognese

                        Usually for this blog, I document my attempts to make recipes I’ve never tried with ingredients that are new to me. I must confess that I have been working on perfecting a Bolognese sauce for years. I think I’ve finally got it.

                        This Bolognese sauce has a secret ingredient that you won’t find in most Bolognese sauces. But we’ll get to that later.

                        First a little background.

                        For a long time, I was dissatisfied with the results of my Bolognese attempts. The sauces always seemed relatively tasteless and never thick enough. My normal approach was to brown onions and ground beef, add dried herbs (like oregano and such), add a jar of prepared sauce (like Classico) and let it simmer for a long time. I thought that the longer it simmered, the tastier it would be, and that was a little bit true, but not all that much. I tried adding garlic and then adding more and more garlic, to give it flavor. It worked a little, but it seemed that the garlic flavor just disappeared. I tried adding red wine. That worked a little too. I tried adding lots of olive oil once. Again, it enhanced the flavor a bit, but it came at a cost and didn’t give the dramatic flavor I was after.

                          Basics Panini Pork Produce Sauces Uncategorized

                          Pork Chop with Marsala Sauce (Creamy Version)

                            Pork Marsala with Noodles
                            Pork Marsala with Noodles

                            I’m a huge fan of chicken Marsala and veal Marsala, but I’ve got a craving for a pork chop, so I figure “why not try pork Marsala?” At the store, a double thick pork chop catches my eye and once again I think, “Why not?” (read on to find out why not). I’ve never made Marsala sauce before, but I figure it’s a variation on the Fig Sauce I did in September, just with mushrooms and Marsala wine instead of figs and Balsamic vinegar. Let’s see how this one turns out. An ingredients list (of sorts) is at the end of this post.

                              Panini Sandwiches Uncategorized

                              Ham & Cheese Panini with Fig Jam

                                Fig Jam purchased at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma, CA.
                                Fig Jam purchased at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma, CA.

                                While Americans often refer to a grilled sandwich as a Panini, when we say “panini,” we’re actually using the Italian word for “small bread rolls” (in the plural). Panino is the singular and “panino imbottito” is the phrase used for “stuffed panino” or sandwich. So this posting should be titled, Panino Imbottito with Ham, Cheese, and Fig Jam,” but I’m not that imbottito with myself (i.e. full of myself). Or am I?

                                After cooking with figs last week, I had a hankering to use the fig jam I purchased awhile back at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards wine and olive oil tasting center.

                                Fig jam is pretty sweet, so it’s a great counterpoint to the salty, black forest ham that I’m using in this sandwich. If you don’t live near Sonoma, you can purchase fig jam at I’ve added a link to the right to make it easy to find.

                                Although my husband laughed when I bought yet another cooking gadget, I use this Cuisinart Gridder Gourmet all the time.
                                Although my husband laughed when I bought yet another cooking gadget, I use this Cuisinart Gridder Gourmet all the time.

                                I’m going to be using my Cuisinart Griddler Gourmet which can function as an indoor grill or a panini press or open up into a griddle. You can use a frying pan right on the stove and just put a heavy lid on top of the sandwich. I do love my “griddler gourmet” though and use it a lot more than I thought I would.

                                Great bread is one of the most important components of this sandwich.
                                Great bread is one of the most important components of this sandwich.

                                For this sandwich, I purchased Black Forest Ham. In the US, that term doesn’t mean as much as it does in Europe, where Black Forest Ham is a protected designation and therefore is required to come from the Black Forest in Germany. I know that the ham I’m buying has a spicy, sharp flavor that I like. A Virginia ham, or Smithfield ham would also work well for this sandwich because of its salty and strong flavor, but a honey-cured ham might prove too sweet to pair with fig jam.

                                I’ve also chosen a Jarslberg Cheese. It’s a Norwegian cheese in the Swiss Emmentaler-style family of cheeses. It’s less sharp than Emmentaler, which satisfies my personal taste, while still providing that tangy counterpoint to the other flavors in the sandwich.

                                Ive chosen a La Brea brand French Loaf and spread a generous amount of Fig Jam on it.
                                I've chosen a La Brea brand French Loaf and spread a generous amount of Fig Jam on it.

                                This photo shows the amount of jam I chose to use. The La Brea French loaf is nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Most panini you find in Italian cafés are made with Ciabatta and when made properly, chefs use the whole loaf, splitting it horizontally. The loaf I chose was too big to do that, so I cut slices off of it.

                                The sandwich is ready to go into the grill
                                The sandwich is ready to go into the grill

                                I added some iceberg lettuce to the sandwich because that was what I had on hand. You might choose something with a little more bite, like arugula. (I love that arugula is called Rocket in the UK).

                                Sandwich grilling under medium-high heat
                                Sandwich grilling under medium-high heat

                                I grilled the sandwich under medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. I really wanted the cheese to melt without burning the bread, so I watched the sandwich carefully.

                                The finished sandwich
                                The finished sandwich

                                This was a thoroughly satisfying sandwich. To make it even richer, you can add butter or brush olive oil on the outside of the bread so that it browns even more as it grills. You could also use Salami rather than Ham. This version is a nice, relatively lite (I used low fat Jarlsberg cheese and there is no mayonnaise or aioli) sandwich. Buon Apetite!

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