I hope you’ve been busy enjoying the summer: endlessly long evenings, hot summer nights, cool drinks, fresh produce. I surely have. We seem to eat quick, simple meals and linger on our deck enjoying the sounds of the evening: the city, firecrackers going off, kids playing, a cute raccoon family going out for the evening forage (This is not as odd as it sounds, there’s a family of raccoons living on the barn roof. Our deck overlooks the roof allowing us a perfect view of their nightly antics).
As soon as the weather heats up in late May or so we stop using our oven. Living in a small attic-level apartment is not conducive for extensive summertime cooking. Some days we need to run the A/C just to bring the apartment down to outside temperatures! Just the thought of using the oven makes me feel a little faint. So our meals become lighter, prepared on the stovetop, in the toaster oven or microwave. Unfortunately we have no grill, but we sometimes pretend with our grill pan!
I was so excited when Kitchen PLAY contacted me to participate in their “30 Days of Outdoor Dining” event. We eat outside nearly every night in the summer on our little rooftop deck. I also love a bit of a culinary challenge. I was asked to create a recipe with LAND O LAKES® 4 Cheese Italian Blend, a new Land O’Lakes product available at the deli counter of most major supermarkets.
After so many years as a vegetarian, I frequently still make vegetarian meals, especially now that it’s summer and our fridge is overflowing with farm-fresh produce. Like many people, I usually rely on the veggie burgers found in the freezer section when I want to pretend I’m eating a real meat-burger, enjoy a barbecue, or relish a summer picnicky meal. A lot of restaurants will have their own home-made veggie burgers, and I’ve often wondered how difficult it is to whip up one from scratch. This product testing was just the inspiration I needed to get out of my salad-for-dinner cooking rut and challenge myself to make something new.
Of course, I can never leave anything as is. Ask my husband- he might honestly think it’s physically impossible for me to order off of a menu. So, when coming up with a veggie-burger, I eschewed the traditional black bean base and thought about something a little different… and I came up with these fresh zucchini burgers. Serve it on a bun with melted Land O’Lakes 4 Cheese Italian blend slices and the hamburger-eating brethren may be intrigued enough to give it a try.
makes 6 burgers
2 large zucchini
1/2 medium onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 c. unseasoned breadcrumbs
LAND O LAKES® 4 Cheese Italian Blend 6 slices for topping burger plus ~3/4 c. shredded
Vegetable oil for cooking
1. Wash and trim zucchini. Using the large holes on a box-grater, shred zucchini. Set aside in a strainer set over a bowl.
2. Wash and do not peel the carrots (I learned this trick during the Cooking Matters class that I volunteered with. Many of the nutrients are in the skin and as long as the carrot is cooked, there’s no need to peel it. Saves a step and increases the nutrients- double bonus!). Shred carrots using the same box-grater.
3. Squeeze out liquid from the shredded zucchini and carrots and place in clean mixing bowl. This is a great opportunity to release any pent-up aggression you may have accumulated during the day.
4. Dice onion and add to bowl.
5. In separate bowl add egg, parsley, salt, pepper and parsley. Beat well to combine.
6. Add egg mixture to veggies. Mix everything together.
7. Add breadcrumbs and shredded cheese and stir.
8. Heat up skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil to coat pan (I used grapeseed oil). When pan is nice and hot, form patties with the mixture and drop onto oil. Hear the satisfying sizzle of your burger hitting the pan.
9. Flip burgers to cook both sides evenly (about 5 min. per side). When second side is nearly done cooking, add slices of cheese to top of burger. Let cheese melt before serving on a roll with your favorite sides. (Pickles, chips and salad? Yes, please!).
If you were preparing these burgers for a crowd, I think you could make the patties in advance and just cook them when the company arrives. If your kitchen is not as hot as mine, you could also bake them all together in the oven. You could even make smaller patties for little zucchini “sliders”!
About LAND O LAKES® 4 Cheese Italian Blend
New LAND O LAKES® 4 Cheese Italian Blend is the best combination of the most flavorful Italian cheese—Asiago, Parmesan and Romano—blended with the creamy goodness of LAND O LAKES® Deli American Cheese. Add this delicious cheese to everything from favorite dishes to lunchbox sandwiches or burgers hot off the grill. The creamy, decadent taste truly makes each dish an everyday masterpiece. The Land O’Lakes Test Kitchens have developed recipes and tips that highlight the wide range of uses for this new cheese. Find recipes, photos and tips on our new Taste of Italy product inspiration page at http://www.landolakes.com/
Currently, LAND O LAKES® 4 Cheese Italian Blend is available in the service deli section at a wide variety of grocery stores.
*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Land O’Lakes as part of the Kitchen PLAY SideCar series. All opinions given are my own.