Monthly Archives: September 2012

Veggie Burgers: A Formula

The “Salsa” Veggie Burger

The burger is quite possibly the most recognized American contribution to the culinary scene. McDonalds has done a formidable job infiltrating every corner of the globe, so you can get your McD’s made the exact same way from Japan to Italy to Topeka, Kansas. I am not a fast-food fan, and had my last fast food experience on a Junior High field trip. I have nothing against homemade burgers however, and love them’ deconstructed’ (aka. no bun!).

I have experimented with various permutations and combinations of veggie burger. I’ve changed up the protein (from beans to almonds to sunflower seeds), the grain, how to cook them, what vegetables to add (if any), baked vs. pan cooked … you name it, I’ve tried it. I came across this burger recipe and am now convinced that it is the best burger recipe to date. Unaltered it results in delicious curry burgers, but it’s easily customizable to whatever mood you’re in. Above is this recipe tweaked for a “salsa” burger. I’ve also used this as a base for beet burgers, zucchini burgers, and lentil burgers – all delicious! The recipe can be found on Food Network Canada here: Boon Burger’s Buddah PattyIt is compliments of Boon Burger, a restaurant in Winnipeg, Canada which serves the best vegan burgers I have ever had. The restaurant was featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, which is the Canadian version of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. If you are ever in Winnipeg, be sure to check out Boon Burger. But until then, satisfy your burger craving with this toothsome, filling patty that surpasses all others!

Tips to Change Flavours:

The Legume: You can use whatever cooked bean you wish in this recipe. Black beans lend a more ‘southern’ flair; lentils and black-eyed peas are a neutral background that let your other flavours shine through; chickpeas add a middle-eastern or Indian flair; edamame for an Asian burger; or you could substitute the beans for the same volume of mushroom/walnut/almond meal!

The Vegetables: The best way to add vegetables to burgers is to grate them first. Squeeze out any excess water if they are particularly watery, like zucchini. Vegetables that I have had amazing success with include beets, carrots, zucchini, squash (butternut or acorn), sweet potato, or diced mushrooms.

The Binder: If tomato paste doesn’t match your spice flavour profile, tahini, 1-2 tbsp. chickpea flour, or more beans/grains also work. The binder helps hold the burger together, but I have found that if you use the food processing technique in this recipe the burgers hold well with or without the binder.

The Grains: Rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat … really any grain you want! Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Instead of potato flakes/bread crumbs, I usually increase the amount of grain and add 1/4 cup cornmeal or sprouted grains. The cornmeal/sprouts helps act as a binder while giving the burger a bit of texture.

The Seasonings: Season to your mood! Put in as much or as little as you want. These burgers are infinitely adaptable, so whatever strikes your fancy just throw it in! I really like the combination of thyme and beets, chili spices with black beans, curry spices with lentils/chickpeas and carrots, wasabi ginger burgers with edamame, and fresh herbs with zucchini. That’s the beauty of food processor recipes – virtually everything tastes delicious!

These burgers freeze really well, and don’t turn crumbly when you reheat them. They are excellent hand-held on-the-go meals, sure to satisfy your appetite for a while. If the thought of eating a patty straight doesn’t appeal to you, instead of forming burgers spread the burger mixture on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and top with standard pizza toppings. Bake the ‘pizza’ to the burger specifications, and now you have portable all-dressed burgers! So get creative and enjoy these burgers!

Note: Above I have the “salsa” burger with black beans, tomato paste, cornmeal, and chili spices. I served it over a fresh salsa salad, made of diced tomatoes, green bell pepper, jalapeno, and chopped cilantro sprinkled with lime juice. Delicious!


Eggplant Tagine

Tagines, like curries, are a staple. A tagine is a slow-cooked stew hailing from Morocco. If you are lucky enough to have the kitchen space, they are to be cooked in a special clay casserole dish that acts like a mini-convection oven. The dome of the lid traps the steam and recirculates it within the dish for slow-roasted casserole perfection. I am limited in my galley kitchen however, and make due with a stock pot. Still delicious and worth making every time!

Moroccan tagines are sweeter than Indian curries, and generally less spicy. They often feature cinnamon with some citrus notes, adding a surprise twist to the cumin/coriander/turmeric “base” curry spice mix. Raisins or other dried fruit such as apricots (especially when the citrus is orange) are also common in the stew. Generally served with fancy (or standard) couscous, they are a filling meal that will transform your kitchen to a market in Casablanca. This particluar tagine is my base recipe, however there are a multitude of variations of this recipe that can be made based on what you have on hand. Components that you must have to consider it a tagine include: a meaty vegetable such as eggplant, a legume, a tomato-based sauce, and a spice combination that includes cinnamon and orange juice or lemon juice. Purists would also insist that rasins need to be added, but as I hate raisins I leave those out – I leave that decision to your disgretion.

Tagines are a nice change of pace from the Indian curries, but if you want an exotic stew and can’t decide on which curry to make, split the difference and slurp up a hearty warming tagine!

Eggplant Tagine

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered and sliced thin
1 cup carrots, sliced into ½” pieces on the bias
1-2 serrano chilis seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
5 cups water, vegetable broth, or a combination
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
several dashes pepper
1 cup dry red lentils

1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped into ¼” pieces
1 eggplant, cubed into ¼” cubes or sliced into quarter moons (like zucchini)
1 cup green beans, cut into 1” pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes
½ cup raisins (I never add raisins because I dislike them, but traditional tagines include them!)
1 tsp salt
1 bunch spinach, torn into pieces½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
3-4 tbsp. lemon juice, or juice of one orange
lemon wedges to serve

Add-in/Substitution Suggestions:

Legumes: Red lentils give the stew a creamy base, but green lentils or chickpeas are also delicious. Or a combination of all! You want to end up with ~3 cups cooked legumes when you are done.

Vegetables: Green beans, sugar snap peas, asparagus, grape tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, butternut squash, and bell pepper would all be fantastic. For a double-tomato broth, add 1 (28oz.) can whole or diced tomatoes to stew with liquid.

Greens: Spinach, Swiss chard, kale, collard greens …

Directions:

1) In large stockpot, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent
2) Add carrots and chili and sauté ~3min.
3) Add garlic and ginger, sauté ~2min.
4) Add cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Stir and add water/vegetable broth, tomato paste, cinnamon, bay leaves, pepper, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 20min.
5) Add all veggies except greens, raisins, and salt. Simmer 15min.
6) Add the greens, cilantro, and mint. If all the greens don’t fit in the pot, add in batches and stir until greens are wilted.
7) When all greens are wilted, turn heat off, stir in lemon juice, and let sit for 10min (or as long as you can last!)
8) Serve over couscous, tabouli, or with some flatbread.

Update: Winter Tagine

During the winter months, I found myself craving this savoury tagine. Thus, I adjusted the vegetables accordingly. Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, and frozen spinach worked wonderfully in this tomato-based tagine. I used chickpeas instead of lentils for the mouth feel, and was completly satisfied with this warm, hearty stew!

Winter Tagine: Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, and chickpeas

Winter Tagine: Butternut squash, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, and chickpeas


Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro

Bright and zesty, this black bean soup is deliciously different!

I am forever looking for variations of Black Bean Soup, that “little black dress” soup that can be comforting or exotic. Virtually every cuisine type has a version of a black bean soup, which I find fascinating from an anthropology standpoint. This particular version was made because I could not decide between the classic black bean soup and a version of black bean hash for dinner one day. So I turned to the cookbook shelf for inspiration, and found this Yam and Black Bean Soup in Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Perfect!

Like all recipes in Appetite for Reduction, this stew is very simple to put together, and extremely tasty. I was a bit skeptical reading the list of ingredients – I tend to like recipes that read like novels, heavy on the spices. I also have an aversion to fruit in savoury dishes (pineapple on pizza? Ick.) and the addition of orange juice tested my resolve to stick with this stew and not revert back to the black bean hash. But this soup is absolutely delicious! Strangely enough, you can’t taste the orange, but instead it makes the soup (especially the sweet potatoes) taste ‘bright’. Zingy. It acts more like lime or lemon juice here, and was surprisingly delicious. The ingredient list may be short, but it packs a punch. The longer the soup sits, the more it thickens, making your second bowl more stew-like and extremely concentrated in flavour. The leftovers froze wonderfully, and reheated even better than when first made. When I reheated the soup, at the end I would throw in some greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever was on hand) for some additional colour and extra level of deliciousness.

The recipe can be found here: Yam and Black Bean Soup. So next time you have a spare sweet potato in your fridge and a burning desire to eat some black beans, add to your black bean soup arsenal and give this exotic soup a try!


Curried Quinoa and Adzuki Bean Salad

A light, refreshing summer meal!

(Please excuse the picture background – taken on my apartment deep freeze)

Feeling creative in the kitchen, I created this recipe for a change to my standard stews and salads. I love Adzuki beans, which are small red beans used most often in Asian dishes. From their dried state they take marginally longer to cook than lentils, but if you prep your veggies while the beans are simmering they’ll be ready before you know it. Adzuki beans when cooked are little gems of creamy goodness – they are slightly sweeter than black beans, and are the perfect texture for stir-frys and salads. They both hold their shape and become creamy with slight pressure with the back of a spoon. The result is an added dimension to the sauce of your choice, but without compromising the joy of eating whole beans!

This salad is one potential combination of many for the classic Big Bowl. Grain + Bean + Greens = infinitely adaptable meals that could provide variation in your diet for months. The recipe below results in an interesting taste sensation – the Adzuki beans add an Asian flair to the traditional Indian curry spices. The quinoa adds a nutty flavour, and when served over spinach a whole meal salad that is light, filling, and delicious results. A perfect weekday meal for when you don’t really feel like cooking but can’t stand to eat another container of leftovers!

Curried Quinoa and Adzuki Bean Salad

Dressing:
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1½ tsp. dried oregano
1½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. mustard seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) In glass jar or small cup whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.

Salad:
¾ cups quinoa
½ cup dry adzuki beans (1½ cups cooked)
3 tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
⅓ cup carrot, diced
⅓ cup cucumber, diced
⅓ cup zucchini, diced
¾ cup tomato, diced
⅓ cup green pepper, diced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:
1) In medium saucepan, cook quinoa in 1½ cups water (~20min). Set aside.
2) If required, cook adzuki beans. Drain and set aside.
3) In large bowl, toss together cooked quinoa, beans, and all remaining ingredients.
4) Gradually pour in dressing, tossing to coat.
5) Serve over bed of spinach, kale, or other greens.


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