How often do you eat cranberries in their fresh, raw form? It seems to go without saying that sweetened dried cranberries have pretty well monopolized the Cranberry Market in recent years, edging out their plump, juicy originators by a long shot. I’d wager few of us ever go around eating raw cranberries as our go-to fruit of choice. As a matter of fact, when my six-year-old daughter saw them in our fruit crisper the other day and asked to try one, I told her to do so at her own risk. Raw cranberries are so stinking tart, they’re almost inedible on their own.
Not surprisingly, it took about two seconds before she made a horrible face and spit it into the trash.
That’s why this Cranberry Salsa–which I had the fresh cranberries in the fridge for–is so special. It features raw cranberries combined with apple, jalapeño, red onion, and a couple of other fresh ingredients for an unexpected, interesting appetizer that’s sure to be a hit at holiday parties. (It was at mine last night! The bowl I served this in was practically licked clean.)
Being a nutritionist, I’m a bit self-conscious about the food I serve when I entertain. Maybe no one is thinking about it but me, but I feel like my title obligates me to make at least some fairly healthy options for my guests. Plus, the nutritionist in me likes to offer allergy-friendly options for friends and family in the “something-free” club. This salsa fit the bill for both, since it’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free–basically everything-free, since it’s made entirely with fresh fruits, sugar, and salt. Heck, it’s even RAW, if you’re into that, too.
Oh, and it’s easy. And make-ahead. And a balanced blend of sweetness and spice. And seasonal.
Can you tell I’m sold? Give this one a try for any upcoming Christmas parties and tell me how it goes!
This Cranberry Salsa is a festive, healthy, allergy-friendly holiday appetizer.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugar until very fine (to create superfine sugar). Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
Place cranberries, apple, red onion, and jalapeño in the food processor and process until the mixture reaches a finely chopped pico de gallo-type consistency. Add to the bowl with the sugar and stir to combine.
Add orange zest and juice, lime juice, and salt and stir to combine. Cover and chill 2-24 hours. Stir in cilantro just before serving.
Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience: it’s a weeknight and you’ve planned to make dinner. All best intentions–you grocery shopped, you got ingredients, you know more or less what you’re planning to make and how. But somehow you got home late from errands or got stuck on a phone call with the teacher or had to discipline whoever hit whom with a badminton racquet, and it’s suddenly 5:45 and you haven’t started a darn thing. The kids are starting to get hungry and so are you, and you think, Oh, forget it. There’s no way I can get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Let’s go out to eat.
You pile everyone in the car. You drive to some fast-casual restaurant you think won’t take too long and won’t break the bank….and 40 bucks and 90 minutes later you’re finally home, and NOW it’s almost bedtime and no one has started their homework. You heave a sigh and roll your eyes because, really, when all is said and done, there’s a nagging voice in your head going, “Wouldn’t it have just been faster and cheaper to eat at home?”
I’ve been there many, many nights. And finally, after years, I’m starting to actually learn from the experience. So when I meal plan, if I can build in at least one dinner that’s guaranteed to come together easily and fast, I can breathe easy knowing that the nights we dip into our restaurant budget (and our limited time) will get fewer and further between. These Double Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayo are one of my secret weapons.
I love this recipe because it doesn’t require anything to thaw or marinade or any do other activity that eats up chunks of time and requires pre-planning. Plus, most of its ingredients are things you just might have on hand at any given time. Two cans of beans? Check. Bread crumbs and spices? Check. As for the chipotle pepper in the spicy mayo, in a real dinner emergency, you could even do without it and use chili powder instead. (And if you do use the real pepper, you can always adjust the spice by cutting back to half a pepper instead of a whole.) And did I mention these burgers are a heckuva lot healthier than that In-N-Out calorie bomb you’re likely to pick up eating out? Just sayin’.
So from one busy weeknight meal maker to another, I pass the baton of these secret weapon bean burgers. Use it wisely for the triumvirate victory of time, cost, and health!
Double Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayo
In a large bowl, mash the cannellini and black beans until smooth with some chunks. Add garlic, cilantro, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, combine egg, egg white, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and panko bread crumbs. Stir into bean mixture until well combined.
With your hands, form mixture into six patties.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook 4-5 minutes per side or until browned.
Meanwhile, make the chipotle mayo: using an immersion blender, combine all ingredients.
Assemble burgers topped with lettuce/spring mix and chipotle mayo.
Bean Burgers adapted from How Sweet Eats; Chipotle Mayo A Love Letter to Food Original.