Inga's Indulgence

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Meatiest of the Meatless

Never have I ever had any notions of becoming a vegetarian, or a vegan for that matter, but when my dear friend approached me about creating some vegan recipes that she could cook during lent, I began to think like one.
I suddenly had a flashback to a vacation she and I took around the time when Lent overlaps with Passover. Our collective list of things we couldn't eat made dining a complete nightmare. Even though my abstinence doesn't begin for another 3 weeks, I really do feel for all those in that position now; those who are stuck eating the same blah foods everyday because they assume that there is no room for experimentation with the short list of things they are actually allowed to eat.
The first thing that I thought I would want more than anything if I were in my friend's shoes was a burger. A meaty, hearty, satisfying vegan burger. The challenge - making this burger flavorful and filling enough so that its meatlessness would not be an issue, and also finding a vegan binder to prevent the whole thing from falling apart.
Here's what I did:

The Ultimate Vegan Burger
yield: 6-8 servings

2 1/2 cups cooked multi-grain rice (slightly overcooked)
1 scallion, finely chopped
1, 15 oz can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil + more for frying
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (you may also use regular flour)

1. Place first 6 ingredients into a large bowl, and mash together using a potato masher (You may pulse a few times in a food processor). Add 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, spices, and salt. Add flour, and stir to combine. Divide the mixture into 6-8 parts (depending on how big you want the burgers to be) and form into balls.

2. Cover the surface of a large non-stick skillet with oil, and heat over a medium-high flame. Place the patties into the skillet, flattening them slightly with the palm of your hand. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Cook burgers about 5 minutes per side, adding more oil if the pan gets dry. Serve on buns with whatever fix-ins your heart desires.

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