Diced! – Echo – “California” Burgers with Zucchini Fries and Spicy Balsamic Honey Mustard

Today we have an entrant for the second course of the Diced! competition. This round includes ingredients that are vegan friendly. Contestants were encouraged to add any additional ingredients they wished (even non-vegan ones). Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for a main course containing the following ingredients: Large Portobello mushrooms, Quinoa, Zucchini and Balsamic vinegar. They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.

Due to the generosity of the following companies, we have some really awesome products as a prize to the winner of this Diced! competition. The winner will receive:

  • Zak – The winner receives their choice of a four piece setting or set of three serving bowls from their new Moso line. This is made from biodegradable bamboo and comes in a choice of four stylish colors. Look for a review of this product in the near future. Check them out here.
  • Chobani – The leading brand in Greek Yogurt, the winner will receive a case of their choice of flavor of Greek yogurt. I’ve been using quite a bit of Chobani in my cooking lately and love it. Look for those recipes soon. Check out the selection at: http://chobani.com/products
  • Microplane – Microplane will provide the winner with four items: Microplane Elite Series Fine Grater, Home Series Coarse Grater, Bartender’s Garnishing Tool, Cut-Resistant Glove. I recently reviewed these products here. Check out their products at their facebook page: www.facebook.com/microplane
  • Youcopia – Maker of organization products, they would like to offer the winner a choice of a product from their web site. I recently reviewed the Bake Stack.

Today’s contestant, Echo is new here on the Rantings of an Amateur Chef but is bringing the fight to the other contestants. Check out her blog Wine to Walnuts and her entry below…

Here we are – the entrée round of the Diced! competition!  Thank you to all my followers, friends and family who helped get me through into the next round 🙂  Now, without further ado, let’s kick things off!

This time around, the ingredients we were required to include in our entrée were:

Large Portobello mushrooms
Balsamic Vinegar

I was in quite a pickle reading these ingredients (har har).  How to make a dish that was cohesive AND delicious – especially when I had never seen let alone cooked with quinoa?  Then it hit me – labor day was right around the corner.  We HAVE to celebrate the last official day of summer, right?  Well… in Florida every day is summer, but you get the picture.  What better way to revel in the summer sun than with a grill, some burgers, and some beers?  And so, this farewell to summertime recipe was born – and I’m so glad it was, because I think it has revolutionized how I will make burgers from now on.

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“California” Burgers with Zucchini Fries and Spicy Balsamic Honey Mustard

serves 6-8


picture 2

The patties!

picture 3

3 lbs. ground beef, 80% lean
1 c. quinoa, uncooked
1/4 c. dried onion flakes
1/4 c. garlic powder
1/2-1 c. Worcestershire sauce (depending on how much you love or hate Worcestershire)
1/8-1/4 c. olive oil
 and pepper


picture 4

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2 large avocados, sliced
3 large Portobello mushrooms
1 large handful alfalfa sprouts
1 package smoked provolone cheese
Any other burger toppings you like!

The zucchini fries!

3 large zucchinis
3 eggs
, separated (we are only using the whites)
3 c. flour
1 c. quinoa
1/4 c. garlic powder
1 c. corn starch
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. salt
Pepper to taste
About 3 c. vegetable oil, for frying

The spicy balsamic honey mustard!

1/2 c. spicy brown mustard
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey


Place your ground beef in a bowl deep enough to mix all the ingredients together.

Cover your Portobello mushroom caps (removing the stems and placed gill side up) with 2 T. balsamic vinegar and let marinate.

Now, generally I would bind my burgers with bread crumbs.  However, I had to use quinoa in this recipe – and I’ve never cooked with it before.  I was talking about the competition with some friends and I even had no idea how it was pronounced: I kept calling it “kin-wa” before my boyfriend pulled me aside and lovingly told me how wrong that was!  After watching plenty of Chopped episodes, however, I wasn’t going to let unfamiliarity stop me.  So, I knew it was a grain – and being a starch, it could technically work as a binder – and I was right!  Not only does it bind the burgers just as well as bread crumbs, but when raw, it absorbs all those delicious meaty juices as the burger cooks and imparts a nutty flavor to it.  It worked so wonderfully that, whenever possible, I’m going to use quinoa as my binding agent from now on.

Take your quinoa and throw it in the blender.  Blend it on high until it mostly forms a powder.  This will take a little while, and all of it won’t get broken up, but as long as its somewhat crushed up it should work fine.

Like this:

picture 6

Add your eggs, onion flakes, garlic powder, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to the bowl of ground beef.  Add the quinoa and olive oil and mix however you like (I use my hands – and if you do too, use the trick of wetting your hands before proceeding to keep the meat from sticking to you).  Form the burgers into patties and set aside until you’re ready to grill.

Here’s a little trick for perfect burger patties: after forming the circle, place a little depression in the middle of each patty with your knuckles (so it looks a little like a doughnut).  This ensures that, as the burger cooks and shrinks up on itself, it will cook evenly throughout.

Now, for the zucchini fries!  I didn’t realize how much I loved zucchini until now.  I’ve always been a big vegetable fan, and zucchini is up there with my favorites.  This is a completely different way to make it, and while not perfectly healthy, it certainly is healthier than regular french fries – and just as delicious!

Heat up your oil on high in a sautoir or sauce pan – you want enough oil that the zucchini fries can float without touching the bottom of the pan.  While you’re doing that, turn your grill on high to start heating it up.  Cut your zucchini into strips, spears, whatever – however you like your fries to look.  Don’t worry about the skin – it adds color and is just as easy to eat as the flesh.  Whisk up the egg whites from the 3 eggs (you can just toss the yolks) until they get frothy.  This adds some volume and crispness to your batter.  Salt and pepper your raw zucchini, then place in the egg whites.

Mix all the other ingredients together to form your batter – the corn starch and baking soda, just like whisking up the egg whites, add a really lovely crispy texture when fried.  Take the zucchini out of the egg, knocking off the excess, and coat in your batter mixture. Test if it’s hot enough by touching a zucchini to the oil.  It should fizzle and start frying.  When it’s ready, drop in your zucchini fries.  They only need a minute or two to fry – otherwise the zucchini will turn to mush.  Place on a paper towel to drain and cool and sprinkle with a touch of salt.

Grill up your burgers, lowering the heat to med-high, for 6-10 minutes depending on the size of the patties and the doneness you prefer.  While you’re doing that, mix up all the ingredients for the spicy honey mustard and adjust seasonings and amounts to taste.  Dry off the marinated Portobello caps with a paper towel and place on the grill for about 3 minutes, gill side down, and then slice them up.  Put your burgers together however you want – go nuts!

Go ahead, take a bite…

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I did (from the bottom up) patty, cheese, Portobello, avocado, and topped it all off with a hefty amount of sprouts (I love them – and they’re good for you!)  Spread a little of the spicy balsamic honey mustard on the bun and you’re ready to go.  Serve with the zucchini fries and a side of the spicy balsamic honey mustard for dipping.  Summertastic – and as far as burgers go, not the unhealthiest option out there 🙂


What goes best with summer sunshine?  Lemonade?  Beer?  How about BOTH!?  You read that right – this delicious alcohol option will get your party going and keep summer on your minds – and tongues – a little while longer.

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Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy – a delicious blend of lemonade and beer that tastes like everything summer stands for.  It goes deliciously with the burger, cooling the spice in the honey mustard and complementing that delicious meaty, nutty flavor from the quinoa and Portobello.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe – I know I did!  I look forward to creating a delicious dessert for the next round, so if you like what you hear, remember to vote for…

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That’s me! Credits to my wonderful boyfriend for this idea J

Lemonade and sunshine,


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beef, Beer, Diced!, Fried, Grilled, Guest, kosher, Low Carb, Lunch3, Recipes, vegetable3

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

2 Comments on “Diced! – Echo – “California” Burgers with Zucchini Fries and Spicy Balsamic Honey Mustard”

  1. John Bowman
    September 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Reblogged this on gothnerd.



  1. “California” Burgers with Zucchini Fries and Spicy Balsamic Honey Mustard | Wine to Walnuts - September 15, 2013

    […] Here we are – the entree round of the Diced! competition!  Thank you to all my followers, friends and family who helped get me through into the next round  Now, without further ado, let’s kick things off! (To view on the competition’s main page and to vote pretty plleassseeee!!! click here) […]


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