Eggplant Bun-licious Burger
It's been a solid 7 years since I embarked on this Nutrition/Public Health quasi-still want to go to med school journey. I will never forget the summer of Freshmen year, when I willingly took summer classes instead of moving back home, ended up renting a room in a house bunch of girls I didn't know (spoiler: who later became my RD inspos and great friends), finding beetles in the middle of the night, subsequently screaming bloody murder, learning to play the card game BANG!, and starting my first blog Make With Your Hands. This summer was a complete game changer for me. I met so many amazing people through that house and was inspired to take my love for FOOD and make it a career. At the time, I was a biological sciences major, getting my first B--ever, in my first semester. As many biological science majors before me, it took one semester before people start dropping out. But, I refused (and continue to refuse) to follow the status quo.
So, I did the impossible, well what felt like impossible back then. I did both Clinical Nutrition and kept my pre-med track (saving that for a rainy day, ha!) But, in the tiny apartment I call "Oakshade, my passion for nutrition grew and so did my blog, one iPhone photo post at a time.
Make With Your Hands had a good run, generating half a million views, 2k weekly subscribers, and features in Boston Magazine, Paleo Grubs, Food Gawker, and Chowstalker. The website was retired at the beginning of 2017, but the recipes and posts (especially the popular ones) will make there appearance again, here. I choke up a little seeing the old site (above) and how far it had come in 7 years. THANK YOU to all my faithful followers, I hope you find www.DemsinaTheDietitian.com to be a big sister to Make With Your Hands.
Stay subscribed for some of your favorites to make their appearance again! Starting with my favorite post and recipe, the Eggplant Bun-licious Burger. Yes, looking through this it does not have a bun! The traditional bun is omitted here, not because carbs are bad, but because vegetables are better (spoiler round 2, vegetables are also carbs!) Please don't get overwhelmed by the length of the directions, it's super easy. Make meat patties, cook meat, sauté onions, roast eggplant, and assemble. I just split it up into sections for ease!
12 oz. 97% lean ground Beef
1 whole large yellow Onion
2 clove Garlic
1 tsp. Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp. + 1/2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium American Eggplant
2 tbsp. Pesto (my favorite is this Vegan pesto from: Yumsome)
1 cup baby Spinach leaves
Serves 4--3 oz. Burgers
To make the burger patty, dice half the yellow onion (don't dice the other half--the other half is sliced for caramelization). In a mixing dish, combine ground beef, half diced onion, minced garlic cloves, ~ 1 tsp. of black pepper and sea salt, and chili powder. Form into 4 ~ 4 oz. patties. *Please note, there are no raw eggs in this recipe and no bread crumbs-- yeah! I pan fried my burgers in ~1 tbs. olive oil (total for all 4) to an internal temp of 145 degrees F (temps are very important, no one's trying to eat raw meat!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the outside of your eggplant well before cutting into 1/4" slices. You want these to be thin, but don't need them to be mandoline-slicer thin. But make sure they are uniformed or they won't bake properly. Have you ever bit into an eggplant and thought it tasted really bitter? The trick here, is a simple game of osmosis (told you I kept the premed track for a rainy day...). Once you cut your eggplant, lay a single-layer across a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Salt them liberally and let them stand for ~30 -45 minutes. When you come back, you will see a pool of water accumulate around your eggplant slice--osmosis, and the bitterness will be gone! Now place the slices on the baking sheet (remove paper-towel). Drizzle ~ 1 tbs. olive oil and season with sea salt & black pepper. Cook for 20 minutes, they should be nice and brown around the edges but not burnt. Once cooked, set aside for assembly!
Slice the other half of the yellow onion, previously saved. You want to cut, lengthwise, going with the grain, not against gives you milder flavor of onion. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, drizzle remaining 1/2 tbs. olive oil and add in your onions. Stir them constantly, you don't want them to burn, instead become this great golden yellow color. My mom always told me to add sea salt to allow the onions to "sweat" and become more tender. So, add in your sea salt and continue to stir. In the last few minutes, I add in the balsamic vinegar. Stir it around and turn the heat down to low-- you don't want them burning!
I assembled my burger with, 1 eggplant for the bottom, ~6 leaves of baby spinach (raw), burger patty + pesto, ~1 tbs. caramelized onion (feel free to take more/less) and another 1 eggplant for the top!