Remember that New Year’s resolution I told you all about? The one where we would become more flexitarian in our approach to food, eating more vegetarian meals, and to that end I was going to explore more “American” vegetarian meals? Well I don’t mind telling you all that things are proceeding a little creakily. Not horribly, mind you, but between this and the whole rescue dog saga I kind of feel you guys might be beginning to think I am not enthusiastic about my own dinners. On the one hand, I am proud of myself for trying to go outside my own box, as it were. On the other hand I don’t mind confessing that I am really enthusiastic for the traditional Vietnamese dish I am planning later this week.
So I decided to post about this dish, “Middle Eastern” Bean Burgers, not just to document my own progress toward becoming more flexitarian, but also because the basic bean burger recipe has gotten wildly wonderful reviews over on the CLBB and is so flexible that I strongly believe that if one flavor combination does not work for you (or me) then you can easily try another. This flavor combination did not work for my kids, did work for my husband and only kind of worked for me. As a matter of fact, I do plan to try again, next time with a Mexican flair.
The recipe is taken from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. “Middle Eastern” is in quotes because the spices and aromatics are out of my head—I have no idea if a Middle Eastern cook would want a bean burger flavored this way or not. I know all of the ingredients are used in Middle Eastern cooking, but whether they would be used in this combination with cranberry beans—well there I was guessing. I used cranberry beans, or Borlotti beans, because they are used in Mediterranean cooking, which was at least in the right general area, and I did not want to use chickpeas as I planned to freeze the extra beans and use them in other dishes where I wanted beans, not chickpeas.
A note about processing and moisture: Bittman wants the ingredients to be chunky and moist, not pureed and wet.Well for some reason my processor refused to move the onions around (as a result I call for the onions to be chopped more than Bittman), so by the time I got them to process the mixture was pretty much pureed and wet.I let it sit for a while and cooked the patties like thick pancakes, ladling the “batter” into the frying pan.This worked really well actually, and I have resolved in the future to not worry about whether I can shape the bean burgers.Especially since we don’t eat them on buns anyway.
Adapted from: How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
1 can’s worth of cooked cranberry beans*
1 medium onion, roughly chopped*
½ cup thick, rolled oats (not quick cooking)*
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley
4 cloves of garlic
zest of 2 small lemons (or 1 large)
bean stock (or veggie stock) if needed in processor*
oil to coat the pan*
Plain yogurt for garnishing
Lemon juice for garnish
Romaine lettuce for garnish
Process the first 9 (or 10 if necessary) ingredients in the food processor. Bittman calls for them to be moist and chunky, but if they get more pureed just follow my note above. Anyway, after pureeing the ingredients, let them chill in the refrigerator 20 minutes if possible. Then shape into burgers, after which let them chill another 20 minutes if possible. These chillings will help the patties keep their shape.
Heat a cast iron skillet (or non stick) on medium heat. Drizzle some vegetable oil into the pan. Cook the bean patties, approximately 5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Serve with yogurt, lemon juice and a salad. I also had roasted veggies on the side.
*Asterisked ingredients are those that Bittman calls for in his basic bean burgers. Next time I will try Mexican seasonings and aromatics, and smother them with cheese, sour cream and salsa.