After a lovely Valentine’s weekend — wine, chocolate, delicious meals loaded with rich sauces — perhaps we could learn a healthier dish today! One of my family’s favorites is a pan-fried veggie burger, loaded with flavor (and healthy veggies — shhh!). It offers a tasty alternative for a weekend cookout.
One 16 oz. can black beans — drained and mashed
2 cups mixed vegetables — cooked and chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup instant oats
½ cup sunflower kernels
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup sliced almonds — fine chopped (pulsed in a food processor works best)
2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
½ cup parmesan
2 Tbs. Dietary yeast
2 Tbs. almond flour
2 cups panko (for crust)
To begin with, this recipe is one that has a very easy version and a harder version. The easy version is to use canned veggies and canned black beans, the harder version is to cook all these items yourself.
Remember — this is your food you are cooking so there is no wrong answer. Unless you burn it to a crisp of course; that’s always wrong.
For the more difficult version, choose your favorite vegetables and cut them into ¼ inch pieces and lightly coat with olive oil. You can them either sauté them or roast them, depending on your preference. Make sure that they are cooked through and fairly soft, or they create weak spots in your burger that will cause it to break apart. While your veggies are cooling, drain the black beans and mash them pretty thoroughly. You can use a potato masher of fork for this, but I prefer to use my hands — just make sure to wash up first! Mix in your remaining ingredients- reserving the panko- and mix well.
One of my favorite chefs was Jacques Pepin, who said that the most useful mixing tool a chef has are his hands, giving you the ability to feel lumps and dry spots — although I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to do this for cake batter! Yuck!
Now, as I’ve said before, you can make all the ingredients for this from scratch, but I use store bought seasoned breadcrumbs, and recently found a 90-second steam bag of a quinoa and brown rice mix that was perfect for this recipe. Boy — talk about a time saver!
Now we will make balls about the size of a baseball, 2 to 2 ½ inches across. Mold these into patties about ½ inch thick and separate onto wax paper. You really want to work these into firm patties, in order to prevent cracks and weak areas. Place half your panko on a plate and pat it onto both sides of the patty. Place on wax paper on a separate plate, don’t have the patties touching.
Now we want to lest these rest and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This allows the flavors to marry and the patty to firm up.
We are ready to cook ‘em up, so put a ¼ inch layer of cooking oil into a skillet and set your heat on high. I use canola or vegetable oil to cook because olive oil has a pretty low conversion point (that is where the oil turns from a healthy oil into a pretty unhealthy and bad tasting oil) look for the heat point on the oil you use- there are a number of cooking oils to choose from. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the patties in the hot oil, be careful not to splash yourself. Now reduce the heat to medium. We want to keep a careful eye on these, so they don’t overcook — we are looking for a nice brown crust — black is bad! Turn them and cook the other side.
“But Dave” you say “what if I want to grill them?” because of the texture of these, as you heat them, they tend to become softer. This makes them very likely to break up into your grill and cause a huge mess. You can use a griddle, but again, no guarantee that they won’t break apart. Pan frying give you the nice crust that hold the patty together.
Ready to eat? Great! You can serve these with your favorite bun and some pepper jack cheese or whip up a siracha mayo and serve on pita bread, or you can serve the patty without a thing on it!
One thing you may have noticed is that there is no seasoning in this dish. That is because I have found these to be so full of flavor that you really don’t need a thing, but hey, this is your food, if you want to add some salt and pepper and maybe a dash of garlic — by all means!
Time to pop open an IPA and dig in!
Until next time.