So This Happened…

Ok. So this is neither a recent pic nor a “bakery item”. So before you get your hopes up and start planning your lunch tomorrow, we do NOT have this on the menu at the bakery. Yet.

38741_1430436052281_1512975_nQuinoa Veggie Burger

This open-faced gastronomical (and vegetarian) adventure on a bun was my crowning achievement of the Summer. Last Summer, to be exact. But it was SO GOOD I felt it not only deserved its own blog post, but also a “better-late-than-never” blog post.

So I’d like to start by declaring that I grew – yes, GREW – the succulent heirloom tomatoes you see in this pic. Not impressed? Well, you shouldn’t be, really.  But for me, the Supreme Murderess of all that is (or was) soil bound, this was an achievement tantamount to squaring the circle. Not only did I start the seedlings in my painfully dark and small kitchen with only 1 window, but I got them to sprout, I transplanted them to a raised bed in my sand-filled yard, I *actually* remembered to water them regularly, and voila! I got the most beautiful 6 tomatoes I’ve ever seen. Ok…so obviously I am far from winning any blue ribbons at the annual County Fair, but the point here (I promise I am getting to one) is that even someone like me who lacks anything resembling a green thumb can grow something edible if there is just enough will to do so. But I digress. More on my gardening skills gardening “endeavors” in a later post.

Back to the burger. So this recipe was born out of :

1. My periodic foray into the world of vegetarianism, usually prompted by the latest independent food film to be released that serves to remind me of the evils of our industrialized food industry and how the polar bears are dying because I ate a steak for dinner and contributed to global warming climate change…and that Monsanto is a very bad, bad company. Something along those lines.

2. My indignation about paying almost $6 a piece (a PIECE!) for store made 1/4 lb. Quinoa Burgers/hockey pucks, and

3. My thrill seeking nature in the kitchen…and of course, my desire to make ANYTHING that utilizes my Ninja blender.

So here is the recipe (see? I told you there would be a point in here somewhere):

Laura’s “Because I’m a Guilty Meat Eater”
Quinoa Burgers

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I like the tri-color. Because I’m a girl, and it’s pretty. But use whatever you have on hand or can find at the local grocery.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1T flax seed
  • 1/4 of a small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (Ok, too exotic? Use whatever flour you want, the idea is to stick this thing together with something)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup hummus, any flavor (I used roasted red pepper, but garlic would be great as well)
  • 1T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking oil

I approached this like I would meatloaf. Nice huh? Relating my guilt-free vegetarian fare to that which plagues humanity…but really, it’s a similar process.

Start by cooking the quinoa according to the package directions with a pinch of salt in the water, and if you’re a true Kitchenista/multi-tasker, you can also be sauteing the garlic and onion in a small amount of cooking oil over med-low heat. You don’t want to brown the garlic (it gets bitter and burned faster than you can say “carbon footprint”) you just want to soften the onions and infuse the oil with all of the, well, oniony-garlic goodness. About 3 or 4 minutes will do it. Then add the spices. Lightly toasting the spices with the oil and onion/garlic mixture will release their flavors, something I learned from a few brief encounters with Indian cooking. Now add the flax seeds and immediately remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool. When the quinoa has absorbed its liquid and is tender (but no mushy!), drain off any remaining liquid and set it aside to cool as well.

In a bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, spice/garlic/onion/flax mixture, egg, lemon juice, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, hummus and the flour.

Meanwhile, back at The Ninja (in reality any food processor will do here, but that was funny, yes?) remove 1/2 of the quinoa mixture and process in the food processor until it is a thick paste. Mix this back into the other half of the quinoa mixture. Now you’re ready to form the patties.

Coat your hands with a small amount of cooking spray or oil, and press the mixture into 5 or 6 balls (depending on the size you prefer the resulting burgers to be), and press the balls into patties. At this point you can refrigerate the patties for an hour to firm them up, or freeze them for later use.

Once the patties are chilled, heat a tablespoon or 2 of cooking oil in a shallow pan on medium heat. Add the patties, leaving some room to flip them, as they tend to want to fall apart more than their evil cousin, the hamburger. Brown the patties for 5 minutes on one side, flip and brown them on the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes. If they are browning too fast, lower the heat a bit. don’t worry about cooking them, as all of the ingredients are already cooked. You are just browning the patties and heating them through. If you are cooking previously frozen patties, thaw them in the refrigerator prior to cooking or you will end up with black patties that are still frozen in the center…unpleasant.

I layered my quinoa burger, open-faced, on half of a multi grain roll with whole grain mustard, Swiss cheese (sorry vegans, this one’s not for you…I’m not that guilty brave yet) and some mixed sprouts dressed with a little bit of sea salt and lemon juice. And of course, the star of the show, my miracle of blood-sweat-and-tears heirloom tomato.  Admittedly, this is not as much a “burger” as it is a very tasty grain-and-veggie patty. But it is packed with good stuff you can feel good about. And the faces of those poor polar bears won’t keep you up at night.








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