Even though I advocate eating fresh whole foods, there are times when this busy chef is in a hurry and doesn't feel like cooking an entire meal, so I'm always on the lookout for new convenience foods that are vegan and gluten-free. I had heard about a frozen burger made by Asherah's Gourmet that was both, and when I saw it at Whole Foods after a soul-sucking day of running errands in the rain, I decided to pick up a package and give it a try.
This was an expensive endeavor. At $9.99, that came to $2.50 for each of the four frozen patties, so I was expecting greatness for the investment. The burgers are made with all organic ingredients, with quinoa, sweet potato and coconut flour being at the top. This sounded like a perfect savory-sweet combination, with a little bit of richness thrown in to make it feel substantial. The box promised "A taste good enough to live for," which convinced me to take the pricey plunge.
So I microwaved a patty. And then I tasted it after it heated for 3 minutes. In retrospect, I should've taken a photo, because what came out of the microwave was pretty much a circular pile of quinoa mush. It seems the only thing holding it together were the ice crystals. As for taste, it was pretty much like mushy quinoa. Not what I wanted for dinner.
Somewhat disappointed and frustrated yet nonetheless undeterred, I set out to augment this lackluster patty into something edible. I had a big bunch of basil in my fridge which made for a quick pesto. And I had some mushrooms that I decided to saute. I made a bed of a slice of gluten-free bread and dressed some fresh garden greens with a simple Dijon vinaigrette on the side. This managed to come together into something quite elegant, and the final detail of a squeeze of Sriracha sauce actually transformed the meal from mundane to mmmm... good.
For future reference, I'd recommend saving your money and spending 15 minutes or so to cook some quinoa, then dress it with the accoutrements as I have done here. All in all, it took about 30 minutes to pull this together, which was about 27 minutes longer than I had intended to take preparing dinner. But as a challenge to spark my creativity, it was worth it.