Hey all. This month, me and the lovely lady at Veggie Bento Love will be exchanging guest posts for each others blogs. I’ll be doing a detox ‘spring cleaning’ guest series for her and she’s being wonderful enough to give us several great recipes and ideas for omnivores to try out a vegetarian diet, whether permanently or just for “meatless mondays”.
Check out my post on her blog after reading her first one below!
For my first guest post on the lovely Bento Amour’s blog, I have decided to devote some time to the fine art of the veggie burger. I think for anyone considering less meat in their diets, this is well worth learning, as most store-bought burgers (either omni or veg) are just not worth it. The other point I want to make here is that a good veggie burger should not be a copy of meat. You may be able to find a product that approximates a beefy burger, but to most omnivores, it just won’t be the same, and they may find it off-putting.
Food scientists, particularly those who approach how we eat from an anthropological aspect, have identified three major tastes as being important to us. Salty, so we maintain our electric body and brain, sugary so we’ll look after eating sweet foods that contain carbohydrates, and umami, the taste we get from meat. However, umami compounds are also found in tomatoes (think ketchup), cheese (everything’s good covered in a layer of melted bubbly cheese), and mushrooms.
I like to make burgers out of quinoa and black beans. I find the flavours complement each other well, and they make a burger that has a bit of substance to it without being as hard as a rock. They’re also full of protein, fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. The recipe I have used is as follows:
- 1.5 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
- 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp steak seasoning (which is vegan, despite its intended purpose)
- A little oil for cooking
(Want to make an Asian burger? Put some Sriracha and cilantro into the processor instead of steak seasoning and sundried tomatoes. Greek? Incorporate some feta cheese and diced peppers. This is a great recipe that lends well to adaptation.)
Place all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until some of the beans have broken down. If you overprocess, you will end up with little hockey pucks to eat, so leave some texture both for visual interest and texture.
Shape the mixture into patties. I used a mini cupcake scoop for this bento, for a cute lunch with baby burgers, and to keep sizing consistent. Either pan-fry in a little olive oil (be careful, they’re thirsty and will drink up all the oil you put in the pan) for a nice sear, or shape with your hands, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes (for regular-sized burgers) at 350’.
Here are the tiny burgers frying up nicely in a pan. You can see they’re not processed to the point of mushiness:
And here are the burgers arranged in a bento lunch:
You can see a nice sear on the burgers, and they’re perfectly bento-sized. I have placed them in a bento with sprouted grain brown rice, cooked in mushroom bouillion with corn kernels, brown sugar mustard dipping sauce for the burgers, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, a little posh lettuce behind the burgers for garnish, two orange pepper hearts, and ½ a cara cara orange. Overall, a perfectly vegan and delicious bento! Why did I talk about umami? Well, sundried tomatoes in the burgers are a source, as well as the mushroom broth with which I cooked the rice.
Bonus Section: How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker
- Rinse your quinoa in cold water. Here’s a photo of it after I’ve swished my (clean) hand around in the quinoa, which for convenience’ sake, I rinsed in the rice cooker pot. The soapy layer protects the seeds in the wild, but they can make the quinoa taste bitter. Many people have been dissuaded by quinoa for this reason – they didn’t know to rinse. Drain your rice cooker pot as best you can – you’ll lose a few seeds, you can see some floated to the top here rather than sinking.
- With a ratio of 1 part quinoa:2 parts water, just set your rice cooker to cook, leave it, and come back when you hear the cooker click/ping/buzz to let you know it’s done. To prove it’s that easy, here’s a photo of cooked, fluffy quinoa:
See the circles around each seed? That lets you know it’s completed cooking. The quinoa is now ready to eat as is (anywhere you’d use rice, you can use quinoa), or for use in recipes, such as veggie burgers.
I definitely think I’m going to be making some of my own veggie burger with quinoa this week. I’ll make sure to put them in a bento for everyone to check out. Be sure to head over to Veggie Bento Love for more vegetarian bentos and wonderful recipes. I personally love her cupcake friday posts. Makes my mouth water everytime. -laurel