I spent the whole of last week cooking and trying new recipes. This week, it is all about reading and studying recipes. Today, I spent most of my morning and afternoon sitting in my balcony, reading my favorite recipe books for some inspiration, while listening to the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Not too bad. Huh?
I feel so lucky to be able to do this. Although sometimes I really miss the city life, I try cherish what we have here everyday. I promised myself to never take this for granted.
Going back to recipes…
Unfortunately, not all of the recipes I made last week met my expectations. Some tasted good but did not look good, while some looked good but did not taste good. As most people are, I am one of those, who eat with her eyes. In order for me to eat something, it should look good, to begin with.
When you have a food blog, it gets even harder, because your readers do not get a chance to taste the food. All they can do is to look at the pictures and trust that it tastes good.
But trust me guys, I really work hard on my recipes. I first study the recipe, write it down, make it in my own kitchen and eat it with my husband, Dwight. If we both like it I publish them.
I have been looking for a vegan burger recipe for a very long time. I did make several ones and some tasted like cardboards and some others tasted just okay.
And then one day I found this recipe.
This vegan burger is different because rather than the usual bean base, it uses bulgur and lentils as a base. Do not get me wrong, I do like beans, however, if there is not enough fat in a bean base burger recipe, it sometimes turns out tough and not as moist.
Here, if you are not familiar with bulgur, let me explain. Bulgur is a grain made of durum wheat. It comes in four different grades – fine, medium, coarse and very coarse. It has light and nutty flavor. I, personally, find it delicious. I prefer pilaf made of bulgur to pilaf made of rice anytime.
It is mostly used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is very high in fiber and less caloric than most other grains.
For this recipe, I used coarse bulgur.
The meaty flavor in this recipe comes from cremini mushrooms and cashews. As a binder I used Japanese bread crumps (Panko) but you can substitute it just 1 cup of regular breadcrumbs.
A few things here, but nothing difficult.
I think it is easier to make it a day ahead. It really tastes better when all the flavors of the ingredients have a chance to mingle overnight in the fridge. The beautiful thing is that you can freeze them.
About freezing: One thing I did was to individually wrap them with wax paper before I put them in the freezer. Doing this helped them keep their shape after thawing.
My favorite part of burgers is building them. I love it because that is the creative part. You can do your own version but here is how I did it.
Since I like things that are not so traditional, for this burger, I used kale instead of usual lettuce. I steamed it just for a couple of minutes and let it cool before using.
To make my burger look cute and appealing, I topped it of with curly zucchini that I cut using my julienne peeler. I cooked it with a dash of olive oil, a minced clove of garlic and pinch of salt, until it is fragrant (meaning softer but still keeps its shape).
I spread the bottom layer of my multi-grain burger bun with my roasted vegetable dip with tahini. On top of it I layered it with kale, avocado slices, thinly sliced tomatoes and the burger patti. I topped it off with curly zucchini and half sliced cherry tomatoes.
I love serving them with colorful and tasty (hot) peppers that I buy from our local supermarket.
Since we are only 2 people and this recipe gives you 12 burger patties, eating burgers, sometimes, get boring. To jazz it up, I also use them to decorate my salads. Basically, I cut them into small pieces and place them on a bunch of greens and drizzle it with my favorite dressing. It just makes a wonderful lunch salad that is filling and tasty without the calories. Not to mention it is much healthier than a meat burger.
- 3/4 cup dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed.
- 2 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup coarse bulgur wheat
- 2 cups of homemade vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped finely
- 1 celery rib, chopped finely
- 1 leek, washed thoroughly and chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup vegenaise
- 2 cup Panko (Japenese) bread crumps or 1 cup regular bread crumps
- 12 whole grain hamburger rolls
- Place lentils, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 cups of water in to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes. Stir it occasionally. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer. Line 2 layers of paper towels on a sheet pan and spread lentils on paper towels. Pad-dry them with paper towels. Let it dry at room temperature.
- While lentils are simmering, place the vegetable stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir in the bulgur, cover the lid and take it off the heat. Let it sit for 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed by the bulgur. Drain it in a fine mash strainer to get rid of the excess water. Place it in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet pan over medium heat and add onions, celery, leek and garlic. Stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are brown, for 10 minutes. Spread the cooked vegetables on a second baking sheet and let them cool in room temperature.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in the empty skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook them for 10-12 minutes until they are brown. Stir it occasionally. Once cooked, spread them on the same baking sheet as vegetables. Let them cool to room temperature for 20 minutes.
- While they are cooling, place the cashews in a food processor. Process them until they are finely chopped, for 12-15 pulses. Do not overpulse, they may turn into cashew butter. Do not wash the bowl of the food processor.
- Stir the cashews into bulgur and mix well.
- In a big bowl, stir in the vegetables (with mushrooms), bulgur (with cashews) and vegenaise.
- Place half of the mixture into the food processor and pulse until it is coarsely chopped, between 15 and 20 pulses. Transfer it to a large bowl and repeat the same process for the second half.
- Stir in Panko or breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Mix well. Line a baking dish with paper towels. Divide the mixture to 12 portions, 1/2 cup each and shape them into burgers, about 4 inches in diameter. (I used my clean hands to do this) Place them on a baking dish lined with paper towels. (Paper towels help absorb the excess moisture.)
- To cook: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook 4 burgers at a time, 4 minutes on each side, until they are brown. Repeat the same process for the rest of the burger patties.
- As you are cooking the burgers, you can put them in a low heat (250 F degrees) oven to keep them warm. I warmed the burger buns in the oven while I was cooking the burger patties.
- Build your burger using, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, zucchini…etc. Anyway you like!
This recipe is adapted (with some changes) from Cook’s Ilustrated’s The Ultimate Vegan Burger Recipe.