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Most of the conventional wine pairing advice that I have come across seems to focus on what to drink with different kinds of meat and fish.  What if you are a vegetarian?  How do you know what wines go best with meatless meals?  In honor of my brother and sister-in-law who are vegetarians, I prepared a hearty and tasty sans-meat meal in an effort to explore wine pairing guidelines for their benefit.  It got me wondering if this is reason my brother does not drink more wine…

Stuffed Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burger

I love veggie burgers and eat them quite often.  When you make them from scratch though, there can be challenges. First, the burgers are sometimes mushy (I don’t like this).  Second, they can often have so much filler in the form of rice or bread crumbs that when you add a bun, it feels like carb overload.  And third, without enough juicy ingredients, the burgers can be dry and crumbly.

My plan to overcome the hurdles:

1. Avoid mushiness: This sometimes happens when the ingredients are pureed so my solution was to not put anything in the food processor.  I did blend and mix the ingredients together by hand but left some texture.

2. Too many carbs:  I borrowed this idea from 101 Cookbooks to make two thin burgers to replace the need for a bun.  Inside the two burgers you can put whatever condiments and toppings that you like.  I used a greek yogurt herb dressing, avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce.

3. Avoid dry and crumbly: This turned out to be harder to overcome than I thought.  I added in one egg, and the sauteed vegetables.  The crumbly problem was still an issue.  Next time I will try two eggs.

Overall, I was really happy with this dish.  Some crumbliness aside (which would not have been an issue if I had put the burger in a bun), they were tasty and most definitely filling.  The beans and the veggies (especially the mushrooms) had a very earthy flavor so I decided to pair the meal with a medium body French Bordeaux.

05 Chateau La Cabanne

This wine was a blend of 92% Merlot with 8% Cab Franc.  The nose on this wine was intoxicating and it was some time before I even took my first sip.  I did take a while to open up, and after about an hour in the glass it really came into its own.  The wine was very dry with the earthy notes I was looking for of mushrooms and tar.  Even though it was medium bodied, this wine was decadent and luxurious.  I seriously loved this wine.  I sadly only bought one bottle from my local wine shop a few weeks ago for around $40.

I think that wine pairing rules can easily be adapted for vegetarian meals.  Try to match the intensity levels.  A bold meal will stand up to a big wine.  A lighter dish may call for a more delicate wine.  And remember sweetness levels.  A dry wine will seem bitter next to a meal with sweetness in it (dried fruit, BBQ sauce).   And fruity wines are a nice contrast for hot and spicy dishes.

Stuffed Veggie Burgers:

1 cup dried Black Beans, soaked and cooked (or 2 cups from canned, rinsed)

2 cups cooked quinoa

5 cremini mushrooms, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 egg

1/2 t of each spice: garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, paprika, chili powder, salt

1 T tamari (or soy sauce)

1 T rice vinegar

1 t caper brine

2 t chopped capers

toppings: tomato, avocado, onion, lettuce, yogurt herb dressing (see below)

1. Saute mushrooms, onions and carrots in olive oil until softened.  Halfway through, add the dried spices.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes

2. Mix quinoa, beans, veg mixture, egg and remaining seasoning in a bowl, and use your hands to mash up the beans a little.

3. Form into 8 thin patties and saute on medium low until crispy and browned.  We have these burger presses that I used but you could easily make them by hand.

Veggie burgers cooking

Yogurt Dressing:

6 oz fat free greek yogurt

1 lemon

assorted herbs (I used chives, parsley, basil, oregano and thyme)

1. Chop herbs.  Squeeze lemon juice.  Combine with yogurt