Easter Dinner: Hawaiian Burgers, Grilled Carrots, and Braised Fingerlings

We didn’t visit either of our families for Easter this year.  Sunday holidays are tough because unless we take Monday off, the traffic is so bad coming back to Columbus that it almost makes the drive a little miserable – especially from NE Ohio.  So we have declared Easter “our holiday” for which we stay home and do whatever we want.  We went to Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace for brunch and had tasty egg scrambles – his with coney sauce and hot dogs, mine with brisket and spicy corn salsa.  They also came with crispy brown potato cubes and tortilla chips.  He had a Great Lakes brew and then one in which he ordered by asking the server “does the one tap have a mustache on it?”  When she said yes, he said “I’ll take whatever that is”.  I have a Orange Whip, which tasted exactly like a creamsicle – it had Orange Pop, Whipped Cream Vodka, and Cream.  Awesome.

After napping and watching some tv, we took my bike over to a parking lot to make sure I can still ride (it’s been about 20 years since I’ve ridden a bike)! I didn’t wreck, but still see lots of wrecks in my future, just like in my past.  When we got back, we made Easter Dinner: Hawaiian Burgers, Grilled Carrots with Carrot Greens Pesto, and Braised Fingerlings in Smoked Paprika Sauce.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers
Makes 4 burgers
1 pound ground sirloin 
1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped 
1 egg, slightly beaten 
1/3 cup Bread Crumbs or Crushed Tortilla Chips (use chips for gluten-free)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
3/4 teaspoon chipotle spice rub (use your favorite)
1 1/2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard 
3 tablespoons Spicy Hawaiian Marinade (from World Market) or Hawaiian Teriyaki Sauce (or choice of sauce) 
vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack 
4 hamburger buns or sandwich thins (or nothing if gluten-free)
6 fresh pineapple rings, thinly sliced 
 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped 
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.  Combine the sirloin,  onion, egg, bread crumbs, garlic, pepper, spice rub, mustard, and sauce in a large bowl. Mix until combined. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and form patties, slightly larger than bun size.
When grill is ready, brush grill rack with oil. Place patties on rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done (165‘F), about 7 minutes on each side. Grill pineapple rings after turning burgers, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, place buns, cut side down, on outer edges of rack to toast lightly.
To assemble burgers, on each roll bottom, place a burger and a grilled pineapple ring. Brush bun tops with sauce, sprinkle with ½ tbsp of cilantro and serve.
Fingerling Potatoes Braised with Pepper and Paprika
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

olive oil spray
½ cup minced red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes or small red potatoes
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons corn starch

½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (optional)

Wash the potatoes and cut potatoes in half, except smaller or thin potatoes, which can be left whole.

Spray a pan lightly with olive oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the red onion for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, spices, and potatoes and toss to coat. Stir in the vegetable broth, add salt to taste, and cover. Cook on low for about 25 – 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Remove the cover and increase the heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the broth has cooked down to about half. Remove the potatoes to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon.  Stir corn starch into the cold water until smooth and add to the sauce.  Stir and continue cooking until thickened to desired level.   Add the oregano and pour over the potatoes to coat with sauce.
Grilled Carrots with Carrot Greens Pesto(makes 4 servings)

1 bunch carrots with greens attached
1 large clove garlic
about 1/2 cup and 1-2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

1/4 cup parmesean cheese or parm-romano blend

Favorite spices – I used a chipotle blend, to taste

Snip the carrots from the greens leaving about 1/2-1 inch of the stem on the root. Set carrots aside. Remove any long stems and wilted leaves from the leafy greens. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and boil the greens for about 1 minute. Drain for 5 minutes. Coarsely chop the garlic clove and the greens, and transfer to a food processor as well as salt, pepper, the 1/2 cup of olive oil and pine nuts and cheese. Pulse for a few seconds, stopping to scrape down mixture with a spatula as needed, until well blended. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper and other spices, as desired.

Cut carrots lengthwise so that they’re about equal in size and thickness.  Drizzle with olive oil just to coat and season with salt and pepper.  Grill carrots on a grill heated to medium-high (or cook on cast-ron pan on stovetop).  Let cook for 1-2 minutes, or until charred marks form on the underside, and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, until each side is slightly charred and remove from heat. Serve with the pesto.

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