Warm weather food: Veggie sliders & soft pretzels

There’s a hint of spring in the air, which means there’s hope of my toes thawing out sometime before Labor Day.  It also means that in neighborhoods all over the area, there’s the scent on the air that reminds us of our primal need to cook with fire.  That’s right, it’s that time of year where we pull off our grill covers and fire them up.  It’s such a joyous occasion, a special way to flip winter the bird in send off.

So lately, sandwiches have sounded really good to me.  Somehow they just seem a small step closer to being outside grilling. Reader Lindsay Albright sent me this slider recipe for meatless Monday.  I’m not sure I’d grill these, they seemed to fall apart pretty easily, but that’s my experience with veggie burgers in general.  Aside from that, they tasted great.  They were so good I inhaled mine before I thought about taking a picture, but luckily Ms. Alright attached a picture with her recipe.

Veggie Sliders from  Amazing Grass

Recipe makes four sliders


  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil (or oil of your choice!)

    A little sandwich with big flavor
    A little sandwich with big flavor
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • spices – 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin & coriander, pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire (or soy sauce or tamari)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon grated beet (optional – for color)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup black beans, cooked & drained (you will use 1/2 cup at a time)
  • 1 “flax egg” (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 3/4 cup cooked red quinoa (you’ll use 1/2 cup, then 1/4 cup separately)
  • salt & pepper
  • toasted whole wheat or gluten free buns
  • Toppings: lettuce, red onion, tomato, shredded cabbage, jalapeños
  • Optional: Spiced Ketchup and Chipotle Mayonnaise


  1. Preheat oven to 375° with a metal baking sheet inside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir flax & water together and set aside. This will act as your “egg.”
  3. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the shallot, garlic, a few good pinches of salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the dried spices, stir, and cook for 30 seconds more.
  4. Add the Worcestershire, balsamic, tomato paste, grated beet, walnuts and 1/2 cup of black beans. Stir and cook for another few minutes and turn heat off.
  5. Let cool slightly, and then add the contents from the pan to a food processor. Add the flax “egg” and blend until everything is cohesive. (It does not need to be perfectly smooth).
  6. Transfer the mix to a bowl and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of black beans (smash them a little as you stir), and 1/2 cup of the quinoa. Stir until blended, then divide into 4 segments and roll into balls.
  7. Place the 4 balls on a plate and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/4 cup quinoa. Gently roll them so the quinoa coats the outside of the balls, and then press each in the palm of your hand to form patties.
  8. On a parchment paper lined plate, chill for 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer the parchment paper with your patties onto the pre-heated baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and bake for about 15 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until the outside is not mushy.
  10. Let cool and serve with fixings of your choice like lettuce, onion, and spiced ketchup.

Also with the hope of spring in the air comes the anticipation of what my uncle would call the greatest day of the year.  That’s right, baseball season kicks off on April 5.  I’m not much of a baseball fan, but I love the atmosphere of a stadium.  I have a hard time watching a baseball game without eating a soft pretzel. So why not bring the stadium home?  These soft pretzels from Alton Brown are better than much better than the ones they sell for seven bucks apiece.  If you can’t make it out to the ballpark just yet, you can still eat like you’re already there.  They take some time to make, but they’re best straight out of the oven.

Soft Pretzels (by Alton Brown)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water

    Bringing the stadium home.
    Bringing the stadium home.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tip of the week: Forget to marinade your meat over night? No worries!  According to Alton Brown, after about four hours in a marinade, your meat soaks up about the same amount of flavor.  Pop it in the fridge on your lunch break, and cook it when you get home.