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In my quest to find healthy alternatives, eat my veggies and cut down on food costs, I have started trying to make pre-made foods that we enjoy at home, from scratch. One of those things are veggie burgers. We really love a good veggie burger in this house. It is a quick, easy meal that you can feel good about – and eat with oven baked fries! ;)

Don’t get me wrong, we love the meat versions as well. But there is something lighter about veggie burgers, that we sometimes crave. They can be pretty expensive when you buy them at the grocery store and in keeping a balanced budget, we decided that store bought veggie burgers just weren’t going to make the cut. But that didn’t mean they had to be off the menu! Plus, finding a veggie burger at the store without soy products is becoming virtually impossible. Not to mention it is getting harder and harder to find veggie burgers with out a lot of additives these days as vegetarian food is also becoming industrialized at a frightening rate. So I got a crazy idea in my mind. I decided to do a veggie burger experiment. Try a few variations, using different beans, legumes and grains, until we got it right.

The first one I tried was a chickpea variety. I am crazy for these beans, so I knew we would like a “burger” made from them, even if they weren’t the “ideal” in terms of texture and taste for a “typical” veggie burger. I based this off of something I had cut out of a magazine somewhere.

Chick Pea Patties

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INGREDIENTS

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 large egg
3 TBS all purpose flour
2 TBS olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 large cloves of garlic
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder


METHOD:

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Puree the first 6 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Fold the peas and breadcrumbs into the mixture. Season with salt, pepper and spices. Shape mixture into approx. 6 patties.

In a large skillet heat up some olive oil. Cook patties for about 5 minutes or until golden. Flip them and cook another 5 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite burger condiments or serve them like we did with avocado, salsa and Greek yogurt.

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Lentil-Mushroom Burgers

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The next one we went for was a lentil and mushroom burger. We wanted to try something that was a similar color and flavor to a burger and with a more similar texture. So immediately my mind went to mushrooms. Mushroom are the standby meat alternative. For some reason lentils seemed to pair well with mushrooms in my mind. These burgers were good taste wise, and I think were the closest we came to that veggie burger feel. But they didn’t seem to hold together as well during cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

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1 cup dry lentils, cooked
1 /2 cup bulgur wheat, cooked
2 TBS olive oil
1 package baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup onions chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 egg
1 TBS plain Greek yogurt
1/2 of breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1 tbs cumin

1 tsp dried oregano
1tsp sumac
2 TBS water
flour for dusting

METHOD:

Cook the lentils and bulgur wheat and dump into the bowl of a food processor. Heat up a large skillet and add olive oil. Sautee the mushrooms, onions and garlic, until all are soft. Add the eggs, yogurt, breadcrumbs and seasonings. Pulse until mixed together, add the water if too dry. Fold in mushrooms, onions and garlic. Form into patties. Dust with flour. Add more oil to the skillet and fry the patties until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip patties and cook on the other side until golden. Serve with all your favorite burger condiments.

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The third burger I tried was a black bean burger. I remember when I was in college, I used to LOVE the black bean burgers they served at Chili’s…man has that place gone down since then…I digress. So I thought that another great legume for a veggie burger would be black bean. I found a black bean burger version on Katie’s blog, Other People’s Food
Katie usually has a good eye for food, so I decided to try the recipe as is, minus a few things like apples, ginger and allspice – which neither I nor Roberto are big fans of.

Black Bean Burgers

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 medium Vidalia onion – chopped fine
1/3 medium red onion – chopped fine
1/2 orange bell pepper – chopped fine
4 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cans black beans
1 t olive oil
1 t cumin seeds
salt
a few drops of habanero sauce

METHOD:

Grind up the garlic and jalapeno into a coarse paste, adding a little water if needed.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and toss in the cumin seeds. Once they’re browned, add the onions and sauté them till translucent.
Add the bell peppers, garlic/jalapeno mix and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Now add the black beans, salt and habanero sauce and stir. Lightly mash the mixture with the spoon, leaving half of the black beans whole. Cook, stirring, for a two to three more minutes. Remove from heat.

Once the mixture cools, take generous handfuls and flatten each into a chubby 4″ diameter patty.
These can be cooked in batches on a lightly greased pan till browned and crisp on both sides. Serve with your favorite burger fixings!

These burgers were really tasty and packed a lot of flavor. They are great black bean burgers for when you want that southwest feel.

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Try with Avocado Dressing (also good for coleslaw)
adapted from A Celebration in Wellness

1 avacado
3 large TBS mayo
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
juice of one lime
salt & pepper
2 TBS water

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Whirl all in food processor! YUM!

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I can’t say that I have perfected the veggie burger yet. So I am going to keep playing. There are things I like about each of these burgers, but I have yet to reach veggie burger nirvana. I am still searching for a better texture – which perhaps with my sensitivity to soy, I may never find… Do you have a good recipe for veggie burgers without soy that you want me to try? Please email me at : queen at leftoverqueen dot com