A Tasty Verano

Published on Latino American Today, July 2014, -article and recipe by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard.  Verano (summer) in Minnesota is mHamburguesas de Bisonte con Papitas CH 6y favorite time of the year. A pleasant weather and nature’s fresh colors and textures make an almost perfect season. Butterflies, humming and singing birds, loons, geese and their spring and delicate flowers, decorate lakes and parks like ornaments on a collage.

Kids and teachers off school and parents and siblings on vacation seek the comfort of their cabins or the tranquility of their homes to spend quality family time. Almost simultaneously, the city’s vibe responds with increased outdoor activities, patio and rooftop eateries, and kid’s games and the state fair, as if they had been carefully orchestrated. A smoky aroma permeates the air.

The outdoors invites more get-togethers, cookouts, aquatic sports, and fun in the sun. Fresh lemonade stands and grilled hamburgers and hotdogs create the casual and let it be mood. People respond and behave differently during summer. They even look different. Attitude and dress is more relaxed.

There are physical and mental benefits from all this. Easiness and relaxation adds to one’s well being. Breathing fresh air lifts our spirits instantly while we absorb the much-needed vitamin D from the sun. As a result, we become perkier and happier. Happy people are better neighbors, parents, husbands, wives, and kids with one added bonus. Happiness is contagious and non-toxic. Happy people smile more, have more friends, and work more effectively through challenging life situations.

One good way to have a quality summer in the Twin Cities is to become involved in the many cultural activities the cities have to offer. Checkout what is new in the fine and performing arts and live concerts and music scene, read reviews and eat at some of the new and trendy restaurants, visit one of the many farmers markets, or become immersed in something creative such as taking a class while learning something new. These activities are for everyone and can be very affordable and rewarding. To find even more, just ask Siri what is new in town!

For the grill lovers and cooks, spending time cooking a down to earth meal with friends and family while enjoying some cool drinks and great conversation may be their ideal good time. My idea of a fun and delicious time is to relax sipping a glass of white wine while cooking Latin style bison burgers (recipe below).

Here is to a happy and delicious summer!


Grilled Bison Burgers with Guacamole, Black Beans, Spicy Chile Ketchup, Tomato, Red Onion, and Butter Lettuce

I discovered bison while living in Minnesota. Grass-fed bison is delicious and not at all gamy. It is leaner, lower in calories, and more nutritious than beef.

Serves 2 to 4 people

Tortitas (Patties) 
1 pound ground round bison
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup finely diced Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs or herbed bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Adorno (Toppings)
2 to 4 butter lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
2 to 4 slices salad tomatoes
2 to 3 slices red onions
1 16-ounce can organic, fat-free refried black beans or Frijoles Volteados (refried black beans)
4 to 6 cilantro sprigs
1 batch simple guacamole (1 mashed avocado, the juice of ½ lime and salt to taste)
1/2 cup crumbled queso (Cotija cheese or queso fresco)

Spicy Chile Ketchup
3/4 to 1 cup Heinz ketchup
2 to 3 minced bird’s eye (Thai) chiles
2 teaspoons lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper

2 to 4 Latino buns, sliced and grilled (or whole-wheat buns)

1. In a bowl, combine the bison with the rest of the patty ingredients. Form four equal-size patties (or size them according to taste). Set the patties aside.

2. Prepare all the toppings and arrange them attractively on a platter. Set them aside.

3. Mix all the ketchup ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.

4. Heat the grill (or griddle) and cook the patties over medium-high heat to desired doneness. Slice and grill the buns.

5. Assemble the burgers. Spread some guacamole and sprinkle some cheese on one side of the bun, and then spread black beans on the other side. Add 1 slice of lettuce, then a patty, followed by the spicy chile ketchup, tomatoes and onions, and cilantro sprigs. Serve.