Employee Profiles
and Recipes

Samantha (Sam) Owsianski


“I learn something new about food every chance I work with the PRK team. I particularly admire their food pun abilities in the group chat. They are a fun and smart group of researchers.”

Samantha (Sam) Owsianski

Sam’s role connects industry with RRC Polytech’s Technology Access Centres and other research programs, including Prairie Research Kitchen and the Culinary Research team. 

She helps forge partnerships that provide companies with access to our facilities, equipment, and expertise, including staff, faculty, and students – resources that are vital to helping members of the food industry overcome innovation challenges. These partnerships also create opportunities for students to gain exposure to real-world technical challenges while building relationships with potential employers.

Sam plays a critical role sourcing funding from government and not-for-profit partners to support the costs surrounding PRK projects. She is an RRC Polytech grad and has a background working in trade, the start-up community, and economic development in Manitoba.

The recipe Sam chose to share is for her favourite veggie burgers. Her partner makes them in the air fryer, and she loves everything that goes into them: sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, and especially cilantro.

FUN FACT: Sam is an avid gardener. She’s mostly drawn to flowers but aims to up her vegetable game. She’s also a jogger and hopes to run a marathon someday.

Favourite Veggie Burgers


1 1/2 lbssweet potatoes (2 medium or 3 small)
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
1 cup water
1 can (15 oz)black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans)
1/2 cupchopped red onion (about 1/2 small red onion)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 clovesgarlic, pressed or minced
2 tbspadobo sauce or 2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tspground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tspsalt
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats (use certified gluten-free oats if necessary)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing (or avocado oil, if using stovetop method)
8whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)

Your favourite burger fixings: avocado or guacamole, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, cheese, sprouts, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, fried eggs…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes down the centre lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30-40 minutes or longer. Set aside. (If you’re baking the burgers, reserve the parchment-lined pan and leave the oven on.)
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered until all the water is absorbed, 11-14 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the quinoa steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and roughly chop the insides. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and quinoa, black beans, onion, cilantro, garlic, adobo sauce, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Use a potato masher, pastry cutter, large spoon, or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix well. It’s okay if the black beans get smashed in the process.
  5. Sprinkle the oats over the mixture and mix well with a large spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If you won’t be making the burgers immediately, cover the mixture and refrigerate for later.
  6. Use a measuring cup to measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3 1/2 – 4 inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8.
  7. If you’re baking the burgers, brush both sides of each patty generously with olive oil and place them on the lined baking sheet, leaving a few inches of space around each one. Bake at 400°F until the patties are deeply golden on the outside, about 35 minutes, flipping halfway.

Serve burgers as desired. Leftover burgers keep well, refrigerated, for 4 days. Or freeze them in a freezer bag for up to 3 months (thaw in the microwave for about 1 minute or in a 400°F oven for 12-15 minutes, until warmed all the way through).