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Food That's Crazy Good

Since 1995, BCBSRI customer Michael Maxon has been serving “soup to nuts” at his restaurant, Crazy Burger Café & Juice Bar, on the Narragansett pier. Don’t let the name fool you—you don’t have to be a red meat eater to enjoy the experience. They also have vegan and gluten-free burgers as well as other creative fare, such as berry shrimp tempura and sweet risotto-corn fritters.

When we asked Michael how he came up with healthy, innovative recipes, he said, “I was really inspired by The Moosewood Cookbook. I also like to pair foods that sound good together, like cashews and lentils, which is how I came up with the Just Plain Nuts burger.” Michael adapted the recipes for his Just Plain Nuts burger and Magic Green Soup so you can try them at home.

Just Plain Nuts Burger

Servings: 6

2 cups dried mixed lentils
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw walnuts
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 zucchini, grated
1 cup breadcrumbs (use more or less as needed)
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup spicy mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 large basil leaves, washed and minced

Simmer dry lentils in 4 cups of water for 15-20 minutes.

Roast cashews and walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 minutes. Sauté onion, celery and carrots in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add zucchini towards the end. Season with salt and pepper. Add some breadcrumbs before transferring mix to a medium bowl.

Drain lentils, season with salt and pepper, and add a few more breadcrumbs. Add lentils to the bowl.

Grind the cashews and walnuts and mix in, along with the ketchup and spicy mustard. Be careful not to overmix. Add more breadcrumbs, if necessary, to hold the mixture together.

Portion into 6 burgers and either grill or pan-fry.

Magic Green Soup

Servings: 16 (8 oz. bowls)

1 red onion, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 leek, sliced thinly
1 sweet potato, in ¼” cubes
1 pear, in ¼” cubes
1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
1 cup spinach
4 garlic cloves, minced
½” knob ginger, minced
1 avocado, pitted and scooped
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch cilantro, minced, including most stems
2 shakes hot sauce
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Add the first 11 ingredients (red onion through ginger) to a large stock pot to sauté for 5 minutes.

Add three quarts (12 cups) of water, or enough to cover everything. Add beans and avocado and bring soup to a boil. Bring down to a slow simmer and cover pot. Allow to simmer slowly for 1 hour.

Remove soup from stove and add remaining ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Add water if soup is too thick and more salt and pepper to taste.

Recipes are owned by Crazy Burger and reprinted with permission. Please note: The amount of salt and oil in these recipes has been reduced from the original restaurant recipes.

Michael’s home cooking tips

  • Experiment with quinoa, amaranth, millet, and other whole grains. You may want to search the Internet for water amounts and cook times.
  • Use dried beans and add some seaweed kombu to the soaking process, which helps break down the enzymes that can make beans hard to digest.
  • Buy different colored produce, and cook them in a new way. You cook veggies any way you can cook meat—in the oven, on the grill, charred, braised—so try different flavor combinations. And don’t forget to add spices.
  • Cooking with fresh herbs can really change the flavor of your dish. Add them toward the end of the cooking process. If you use dried herbs, add them at the beginning since they take longer to release their flavors.