Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Veggie Burgers -

Faced with yet another dinner to cook and no ideas in sight, I felt it was time to step out of my traditional protein comfort zone and hit the vegetables hard.  I had been eyeing up a mushroom-bean burger recipe in The Vegetarian Bible and finally decided to take the plunge.  While I used the recipe as a mere guideline for my own interpretation of the burgers, it was nice to have such a simple and easy to adapt list of ingredients to be inspired by.

Further inspired by a favorite menu item from Dadeo, a local Creole / Louisiana style restaurant on Whyte Avenue, I decided to fashion some home-made, hand-cut sweet potato fries to accompany mushroom bean burgers and a good side of slaw. 

Normally, I like my burgers full of beef, and lots of it.  You see, I am carnivorous in nature, and to completely opt meat out of a meal is a little foreign to me, but I was willing to try a meat-less dinner, and more specifically a meat-less burger for the sake of my health, and the health of some poor cow.

It didn't hurt that by making a vegetarian meal, I was strengthening my vegetarian portfolio for the occasions when my vegetarian brother-in-law would be over.  The more all-veggie meals I can get under my belt the more prepared I am for impromptu dinners and pot-luck conundrums, so, a win-win I'd say!

The beauty of this meal, aside from the beauty of this meal, is the fact that you'll probably have most of the ingredients you need already in your pantry!  Aside from a few fresh ingredients you'll want to pick up the day of, you'll barely have to do any shopping for this dish, and despite the idea of the work that goes into an all bean-mushroom burger, this meal comes together easily and fast!

Here's what you'll need:

For the burgers
1 onion - finely chopped
1 garlic clove, also finely chopped
Ground Coriander - about a teaspoon
Ground Cumin - again, about a teaspoon
8 oz mushrooms - finely chopped 
15 oz can of kidney beans - drained and rinsed
Fresh Parsley
All Purpose Flour
Salt and Pepper to Taste

I served these burgers with a dollop of fresh garlic aioli, a side of smoked-paprika dusted sweet potato fries and a healthy mound of fresh carrot and cabbage coleslaw.  Don't be afraid to serve these burgers with your own favorite burger side dish, they're sure to be a hit on the dinner table!

Ok, now we're ready to assemble!  And I have to tell you, my mouth is watering just writing about these little devils!  A note here, I used cremini mushrooms (which are basically just baby portabello mushrooms) to give the burgers a meatiness in both texture and flavor.  White button mushrooms will work just fine if that is all you can find though!

Onward... I become distracted easily this late at night... 

Start by heating oil in a skillet, preferably a light oil like sunflower or vegetable.  Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and aromatic.  Add in the lovely chopped garlic, and both the coriander and the cumin.  The measurements are approximate and can be adjusted to suit your tastes of course, try experimenting and adding in or swapping out other spices to enhance the bold southwestern flavors of these burgers!  Once the spices have blended well with the onions and garlic, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, making sure to allow all the excess mushroom liquid to evaporate, an abundance of liquid makes it very difficult to form the 'patties' for these burgers!  

Now that the aromatic mushroom mixture is finished, get to work on the beans!  With the tines of a fork, or the back of a spoon, or even your bare hands, gently mash the beans into a chunky paste.  Mix the paste with the mushroom mixture and toss in a large handful of fresh parsley.  You will also want to season the veggie burgers with salt and pepper at this point. 

Preheat your broiler to medium-high.  Divide the mixture into 4 equal sized portions.  (Of course, if you need to feed more than four mouths, simply increase the amount of mushrooms and beans by half and adjust the seasonings to taste!  No fancy measurements required!)  I cooked these burgers on a pizza stone but a baking sheet or casserole dish would work just dine as well!  Dust each portion with the all purpose flour and shape the portions into patties with a relatively even thickness.  Brush or drizzle both sides of the patties with oil and cook under the broiler for 8 minutes on each side.  The longer you have the burgers under the broiler, the more crisp they will be on the outside!

Once they're done, quickly pop sliced hamburger buns into the oven to toast.  This extra element of crunch will give the burgers even more texture and flavor!  All that is left to do is slather on some fresh aioli and dip into your fries!  These burgers are a healthy and delicious alternative to the weekly dinner grind and will have everyone at your dinner table asking for more! (and that wouldn't hurt since they're just vegetables!)



Kristopher Milligan said...

Drool..... I love dadeo's as well, of course, for my health i try and limit my consumption to only a couple times per year. Their corn fritters are to die for (in more ways than one!)

One suggestion, when cooking mushrooms it helps to get the liquid out of them by splashing in some liquid. You can use some red wine, cider vinegar, broth, whatever. In this recipe i would actually recommend adding maybe a tablespoon or so of worchestershire sauce to enhance the pseudo beefiness!


Nikki said...

Thanks for the comment Kristopher! While I was in Italy, I learned some tricks about mushrooms from one of the local green grocers who told me that when cooking meaty mushrooms like portobellos, dipping them quickly into soda water and then dusting them with a little flour and then pan-frying with some health conscious butter and olive oil is one of the best ways to cook them! I haven't tried it myself but it is on my list of things to do! Thanks for the cooking suggestions, I will have to try that out as well!