Friday, July 29, 2011

Watermelon Burgers & Curry Rubbed Sweet Potato Planks

Call me a liberal, and you'd be right.  I actually have The New York Times delivered to my house every Sunday. Mike takes the entire week to read and savor each section. He always begins with the book review.  I normally read only one section - The New York Times Magazine.  I head for the back of the magazine to a section called "EAT".  The article is always about some type of food, a bit of background is given and a recipe as well.  On July 10, 2011 Mark Bittman did an article called "Throw Another Melon on the Barbie". (Mark describes himself as "... an avid home cook since 1968, a journalist for nearly as long (longer if you count [his] high school yearbook!) and a professional food writer since 1980." He is not a chef but has worked/cooked with a number of chefs from around the world, and has written a few cookbooks.) Mark's article arrived, in our driveway, during our let's try to be vegetarians phase of cooking, eating and blogging. The timing couldn't have been better!

All the pictures of the fruits and vegetables looked great. He made portobello's with a Vietnamese-style marinade, curry-rubbed sweet potato planks, teriyaki cabbage steaks, chilli-rubbed jicama steaks with queso fresco, miso-glazed eggplant slices and last but not least watermelon burgers with cheese. I decided to try the sweet potatoes and the burgers.

The problem was we were only about three weeks into the whole vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. We were both beginning to miss meat.  We fell hook, line and sinker for the words "steaks" and "burgers" that were appended to the grilled vegetables and fruit names. The watermelon may take on the shape of a burger but it definitely is not a burger. 

We were so excited to try these burgers until we took the first bite.  I can't tell you what a disappointment they were. They tasted just how you might imagine -  a grilled hot sweet piece of watermelon that dripped its liquid with each bite. I usually don't blog about my failures in the kitchen, but I wanted to get the word out that a watermelon should never ever be heated or grilled. Enjoy it for what it is and get your "burgers" a more conventional way. 
To be fair I wanted to see if any other home cook/blogger had tried to make this recipe. I found a blog called The Nervous Cook that had a totally different opinion. Perhaps he/she is a much better cook than me or I have the palate of a goat!

At the same time we tried Mark Bittman's Curry-Rubbed Sweet-Potato Planks. There were fantastic, easy to prepare and a side dish that is good for you.

Curry-Rubbed Sweet-Potato Planks
Time 40 to 45 Minutes


  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like rapeseed or corn
  • Lime wedges for serving
  1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to moderately high heat, keeping part of the grill cool for indirect grilling, and put the rack about 4 inches from the flame. Combine the curry powder, cumin, coriander and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the sweet-potato slices with the oil and rub all over with the spice mixture.
  2. Put the sweet-potato planks on the cool part of the grill and close the grill cover. Cook, checking and turning occasionally, until the flesh is very tender all the way through, 20 to 25 minutes. Move the planks to the hotter part of the grill and cook, turning once or twice, until golden brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with lime wedges.
You may be tempted to leave off the lime wedges thinking of them more as a garnish instead of an ingredient.  The lime adds a tart flavor to the sweetness of the potato that makes the entire dish quite satisfying. These planks are restaurant worthy but simple enough to do at home.

Life is good - enjoy!

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