Heart of the Matter (HotM) – Eating for Life: PICNICS
I believe I mentioned that we made vegetarian burgers to go on our hamburger buns. Sure, we turned the burgers into banquet burgers by adding bacon and cheese. But these had to be better for us than regular hamburgers. Don’t they?
Although… they didn’t taste like they were good for us. They tasted fabulous. With or without the bacon, I want to have these banquet burgers again soon!!
(click on image for larger view and more photos)
We are dedicated meat eaters, but we actually prefer vegetarian burgers to those made with ground meat. However, there are very few commercially made vegetarian burgers that pass our rigorous taste tests. “Licks nature burgers” come the closest. And they can be purchased for cooking at home. But they aren’t cheap!
Every time we have made falafel, we have thought that with a little tweaking, they might be turned into really great burgers. We’ve been waiting til the weather is cooler though because T was always a little nervous about grilling them on the barbecue. Wouldn’t they just fall apart?
was wheedling about introduced the idea of having hamburgers and onion rings, here’s how the conversation went:
E: Let’s try making burgers with chickpeas.
T: It’s too hot to be frying burgers AND onion rings. I don’t want to be standing dripping over the wok that long.
E: Can’t we barbecue?
T: I’m afraid they’ll fall apart.
E: Even if we put them on a rack? Come on! They’d be great! We could turn them into cheese burgers… no! banquet burgers, with bacon!
T: mmmm… bacon…
Ah, the magic word. Why didn’t I think of using “bacon” in my argument before?
(I know that there are now HotM readers who are horrified. Please do read on and allow me to reassure you that the bacon is not necessary for the finished dish. It’s nice if you’re allowed to eat it though.)
I love it when T gets excited about a project. He immediately got the chickpeas out to start soaking them and asked if I shouldn’t be getting the starter dough going for the hamburger buns the next day.
Here’s what T did to make the vegetarian burgers:
based on our recipe for falafel
makes 2 burgers
- ½ c dried chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans (or a mixture of dried beans) +
- 1 small onion, chopped
- seasalt and pepper
- crushed chili flakes
- dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- pinch cumin powder*
- ½ Tbsp water
- 2 – 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp sunflower oil**
- bacon (optional)
- cheddar cheese (optional)
- 2 hamburger buns
- red leaf lettuce, dill pickles, onion, tomato, mustard, mayonnnaise, eggplant relish***, pickle relish (as per preferences)
- On the evening before making the burgers, sort, wash and rinse the dried chickpeas well and place in a large bowl. Add plenty of cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. edit: add a pinch of baking soda to help soften the beans. We’ve found this is essential with chickpeas, especially if they are old. Cover the bowl and allow the chickpeas to soak overnight in a coolish spot.
- The next day, remove any floating chickpeas. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Pour the drained, uncooked chickpeas into a food processor. Add 1 Tbsp water. Whirl briefly til the chickpeas are about the size of regular small peas.
- Add onion, seasalt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic, thyme, cumin powder* and oil**. Process until blended but not puréed.
- Add some of the flour, and pulse. Add just enough flour so that dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Put the sludge into a bowl and refrigerate, covered for at least two hours.
- Lay a piece of waxed paper on the counter. Divide the mixture into two glops. Press and push it with your hands to form two patties about 1cm thick. edit: It’s a good idea to make the patties as thin as possible. Make 4 patties rather than 2.++ Place the finished patties on a rack that can go on the barbecue.
- Fire up the barbecue to medium heat. Place the rack onto the barbecue and cook the burgers until they are golden. Use extra caution when turning them. They are quite delicate and may want to fall apart.
- Fry bacon, if using, and set aside. ****If you are serving onion rings, turn the barbecue off leaving the burgers inside and close the lid. Make the onion rings. When the onion rings are done, turn the barbecue back on to medium.
- Thinly slice cheddar cheese, if using, and place on top of the burgers that are still in the barbecue.
- Break or cut hamburger buns in half and place them crumb side down on the grill to warm through and lightly toast.
- Remove the buns to a plate and place the burgers onto one half of each bun. Dress the burgers with whatever extras are preferred.
Chow down. Hamburgers are great with onion rings or oven-roasted potatoes, beet salad and corn-on-the-cob.Notes
edit: + the burgers turn out very nicely if you use 3 different kinds of beans: black, kidney and garbanzo. The final colour of the pattie is much more pleasing.
edit: ++ Make the patties thinner rather than thicker to ensure that they cook through. It seems to be especially important if you use kidney and black beans.
What to do if you want to make burgers TONIGHT but haven’t pre-soaked the beans (Yes you can have vegetarian burgers on the same day!)
* I found the cumin flavour to be too pervasive and would omit it. (I’ve already begun my “no cumin in the vegetarian burgers campaign” with limited success. But I haven’t yet inserted the magic word in order to win the battle – I’m waiting for the correct moment.)
** Next time, we will not add oil to the chickpea mixture. Instead, we’ll liberally brush the patties with oil before putting them on their rack for grilling.
*** eggplant relish: I searched on the internet to find out what people did with eggplant and basil and then went into the kitchen to create the following eggplant relish: I fried onion, garlic, Asian eggplant, cayenne chili flakes in olive oil and then threw in salt, pepper, a lot of fresh basil, a little fresh mint, a little dried dillweed and a little red wine. Next time, I’ll throw in less salt. But even so, it was delicious.
**** Onion rings are best if they are served almost directly after being made. The really great thing about vegetarian burgers is that once they are made, they stay pretty much the same. They don’t dry out OR become mushy if they are left to sit for the time it takes to make the onion rings.
The thing I really like about these vegetarian burgers is that there aren’t giant lumps of carrots, or corn, or peas, or beans. And there’s zero tofu (I just don’t get tofu).
The texture of the vegetarian burger is just like a burger made with ground meat. And the taste is great! But the most comforting thing about them is that if there does happen to be a small slightly chewier lump in the finished burger, there is complete assurance that the lump isn’t a piece of cartilage or hoof. It’s so much nicer knowing that the chewy piece is just a slightly larger piece of chickpea.
Next time we make them, we may try soaking kidney beans as well as chickpeas, to have a mixture. Maybe we should add some black beans and romanos as well.
These almost-vegetarian burgers are garnished with cheese, bacon, red leaf lettuce, tomato, pickle, thinly sliced onion, mayonnaise, mustard and eggplant relish. With beet salad and onion rings on the side. We also had the most wonderful corn on the cob. It was beautifully sweet – purchased in Chinatown from one of the outside street vendors. (Sorry, no photographic proof of the corn.)
Hey, I have an idea!! Let’s have hamburgers again! (no cumin please… :-))
Leave out the bacon to make this dinner completely vegetarian and worthy of HotM. But even with the bacon, this might almost pass as “Eating for life” fare. However, without the bacon, I would think that this definitely qualifies as heart-healthy!!
HotM is “for those of us seeking heart-healthy recipes and a healthy lifestyle while maintaining a focus on delicious and interesting food”. Joanna (Joanna’s Food) is hosting the HotM event geared towards eating healthily, even (and/or especially) for picnics. Joanna wrote the following:
[W]hether you’re travelling, on the beach, in the garden, going for a walk, rambling up a mountain, going for a bicycle ride – you’ll need something to eat, and we’d like to know what it is. Every kind of picnic, from the elaborately pleasurable to the purely functional: what heart-healthy foods do you take with you?
The deadline for HotM – PICNIC entries is midnight Monday 25 August 2008 (GMT). For more details on how to participate in Heart of the Matter, please see the following:
By Jove, I think you’ve got it! Much as I love bacon, it’s not usually what I want with a burger. Aren’t fresh home made hamburger buns the very best!!
We not vegetarian!! but we like to eat vegetarian food more often than not. I’ve been looking for a good non-meat burger recipe that’s not too complicated. This looks like it fits the bill!! Perhaps tomorrow we’ll have chickpea burgers (with no cumin).
Will it work with canned chickpeas? MrBrown bought a few cans a couple of months ago and then bought some more, forgetting that he’d already bought some and now we have 10 (yes, that’s a ten) cans of chickpeas in the pantry. You can only eat so much hummus.
I don’t think that canned chickpeas will work, MrsBrown. The burgers might be mushy. But you could use the canned chickpeas to make chenna masala! Mmmmm, with flatbread and aloo gobi and palak paneer… what could be more delicious? (And you could use the cumin in those)
Yes, MKIHC, homemade hamburger buns ARE the best. And they’re so easy to make!
I recently made falafel with canned chickpeas. After I very briefly and gently mashed them by hand, I squeezed them hard in a towel, and got quite a lot of liquid out. The falafels were excellent, not mushy at all. I assume burgers would be similar.
While I was researching the possibility of using canned chickpeas, I found one falafel recipe that said it was important not to use a food processor with canned chickpeas.
This morning we decided to try the burgers again. The trouble is we hadn’t soaked the garbanzo beans overnight. But this turned out not to be a problem. This morning, after washing the beans, I put them into a sauce pan and covered them with water. Then I put them onto the stove and brought up the temperature (not to a boil or even a simmer – but quite hot). Then I let it sit on the counter to cool. It worked. Three hours later – nicely tender beans. Perfect for the recipe. This time we’ll add oil to the outside of the patty before grilling instead of mixing it into the sludge. We’ll report a difference, if any.
We had some difficulty last night with one of the burgers falling apart. We think it’s because there was a little less flour in the chickpea mixture. We’re trying again tonight (because these burgers really are awfully good, even when they fall apart) and have put in 3 Tbsp flour rather than “2-3 Tbsp”.
Veggie burgers with bacon – I had to laught when I saw that. My kind of veggie burger But I would keep the cumin.
I’m constantly searching for vegetarian recipe blogs and I stumbled your site. Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and check up here often. Thumbs up! This is a nice blog and will be looking forward to read more from you.
Thank you for your kind comment, Shane. While this isn’t strictly a vegetarian recipe blog, I hope there still might be things here that will be of use to you. -Elizabeth
I am allergic to “WHEAT” please provide recipes without wheat flour.
Lisa, there are numerous sites on the internet dedicated to wheat-free cooking. Just google “gluten-free recipes”. The Gluten-Free Goddess (glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com) is a really good place to start as well. For this particular burger recipe, even though I haven’t tried it, you can probably use a wheat-free flour mixture in place of the wheat flour. Here is a mixture that I have used to make gluten-free bread and muffins: whisk the following ingredients together and store in an airtight jar: 2 c white rice flour, 2/3 c potato starch flour, 1/3 c tapioca flour, 1 Tbsp xanthan gum (or guar gum). Use the mixture cup for cup in place of regular flour. When using, remember to mix the ingredients very gently. Hope that helps!- Elizabeth