Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quinoa Garden Burgers

Despite our omnivorousness, Brady and I are always interested in vegetarian (and sometimes even vegan) food options. Even if you love chicken and beef, a little variety is nice, right? For us, eating meat only 3-4 days per week is part of our small-time effort to be more Earthdwellers. So when we started trying meat-free burgers made with veggie protein and the like, I started to think, why can't I make these? I can make these, right? I'm making these.

Well, I was half right. I made them. They were tasty, but they were not what I would call a "burger." More like quinoa falafel. They were fragile, and too soft to be eaten in a bun. I think I had all the right ingredients happening, but perhaps in the wrong ratios. Also, the addition of black or pinto beans would do a great deal to improve their solidity. I was going for the "vegan" thing with these, so I used ground flax instead of egg as a binding ingredient. With about 1/2 cup of beans and an egg or two, these would be a much more solid patty. Hindsight is 20-20.

I used quinoa as a base because of its protein, fiber, and  hearty texture. I happened to have a little pearled barley hanging around from some more wintry recipes, which I decided to add, but I think you could use all quinoa, increase the barley ratio, or use a mixture of quinoa and brown rice.

1 cup cooked quinoa 
3 1/2 tablespoons ground flax
1/2 onion 
2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 - 1 chipotle chili canned in adobo sauce (optional)
4 oz fresh, clean mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup - 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
small handful cilantro, torn
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, the onion, cayenne, ground flax, cilantro, and chipotle chili if you're using one. Combine well.
2. Add bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Process until veggies are chopped - not liquefied.
3. Dump the contents of the food processor out into a large bowl, and mix in the quinoa. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs until the mixture is just solid enough to form into patties. Mix well, and form into patties.
4. Cook garden burger patties in a grill pan for 8-10 minutes each side over medium heat, or cook them in a George Foreman Grill for about 8-10 minutes total. Serve on a bun or in a pita with veggies or a yogurt sauce.

I served these on burger buns with a super simple tzatziki sauce and steamed green beans on the side. Besides eggs lurking in the buns, and the tzatziki (which is easily swapped out for lettuce and tomato, or an animal-free topping like salsa) this is a vegan meal.

In the end, these weren't what I was going for, but if you made them as mini-patties and served them in a pita, they would be just as delightfully delicious as the dish I had imagined.

Quote of the Day: CBS has no problem with airing commercial after commercial advocating the consumption of fried chicken, pork sausage and fast-food burgers, even though eating these products are making Americans fat, sick and boring in bed. ~ Lisa Lange

NOTE: I have to say, since Lisa Lange is a well-known figure and the VP of PETA, I do not support or advocate for PETA in any way. I believe there is a relatively humane and compassionate way to enjoy reasonable amounts of meat in our diets, and I am a really big fan of animals in general. This quote is funny and poignant, but I do not support the guilt, exaggeration, and fear-mongering perpetrated by PETA. Of course, we all have our own feelings on the topic and must do our own research and make the decisions that are best for us and our families.

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