Monday, March 1, 2010

Spicy Squash Burgers

I'm always on the lookout for cookbooks that encourage use of local foods. Eat Local, Feel Noble, by Lauren Caldwell, does that in the most enticing way.

This small book includes 52 recipes, one for each week of the year, along with information about Western Montana food movements, what types of food are available each month (again, in the western part of the state), and general encouragement to seek out locally produced foods.

"Yes, that's right, even through a tough Montana winter, one can enjoy delicious, nutritious fare grown close to home," notes Lauren in the introduction.

Although published in 2006, this book is timely now and will be timely for years to come.

With Lauren's permission, I am reproducing the recipe designated for this week, a spicy vegetable-filled burger that is a Montana-style falafel. The photo above shows it served plain with a side of orange cauliflower. But you can get the pitas out, stuff them with this burger and perhaps some chopped cucumber, and then drizzle with tahini sauce for an exotic Middle-Eastern meal.

Spicy Squash Burgers

1 1/2 cups cooked winter squash*
1/2 cup dry lentils, or 1 1/2 cups cooked
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or bread crumbs)
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Wash squash; cut in half; remove seeds and strings; place cut sides down in a baking dish filled with 1/4 inch of water. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, until a fork pierces the squash easily.

2. Bring 2 cups water to a boil; add dry lentils and chopped onion; simmer until soft -- about 40 minutes.

3. Put cooked squash and lentils in a bowl. Add flour, salt, herbs, spices, and oil; mix well.

4. Form burger dough into patties. Fry on a griddle on the stove, flipping over when halfway done -- or -- bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

* This is a great dish in which to use leftover squash, beans, or any other kinds of vegetables that can be cooked until tender. Be creative and throw in whatever you have on hand!

* * *

My own notes: I baked my burgers, and they were nicely crisp on the outside and lusciously soft on the inside. (I recommend putting them on parchment paper; they stick to ungreased foil. Or simply grease a cookie sheet.) I used pumpkin from my own garden, but canned pumpkin or any substitute, as noted above, would do.

I also used Montana-grown organic green lentils from Timeless Natural Food in Conrad and, of course, Wheat Montana flour.

As a matter of interest, sometimes ingredients create an artistic array. Be sure to watch for this when you cook!

To obtain a copy of this cookbook, contact Lauren at


  1. Hi Mary. These are kin to the black-bean cakes I sometimes make to use up leftovers. Yummy with a dollop of sour cream, too! Great new blog, with interesting links.