Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Salad Burgers
with My Secret Binder: Brown Rice Cakes!
Leftover Bean Salad Never Looked or Tasted So Good!

If you have one of “those” bean salads hanging around in your refrigerator–you know, tasty enough, but not exciting enough to eat over and over again–STOP!  Don’t throw it out or force yourself to eat it as is.

Instead, make my newest “burger” creations.  These could not be quicker, easier, nor tastier.

With a salad similar to the lovely one below in the fridge leftover from my mother’s New Year’s Day tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck–it was good, but unremarkable enough that I didn’t photograph and post (such salads are a dime a dozen)–it suddenly occurred to me that I could use it as the basis for a bean burger.  But I didn’t want to use the traditional high calorie binder of nuts or flour or even oatmeal because I didn’t have any.  But I did have brown rice cakes (vastly superior in flavor and texture to the white rice ones, as  I recently discovered).

Hattie B's Black Eyed Pea Salad | Life, Love, and Good Food

(photo credit: Sheila Thigpen on Epicurious)

Perusing my pantry, it occurred to me that rice cakes might be just the perfect moisture-absorbing binder I sought.  It turns out that one rice cake per one cup of salad binds perfectly, lending a lovely–I’d say ideal–texture.  Of course, it will depend on the moisture in your salad, so be prepared to add more or perhaps even less.

And for an exterior with an irresistible crusty crunch, I experimented with plain, unseasoned yellow cornmeal.  It was perfect.

Regarding presentation, more Snow Days, courtesy Winter Storm Grayson, than we have had since I begin my teaching career 15 years ago meant that my weekday lunches looked a little different than they do on my art room desk at school.  For the nicest presentation, go for height and color contrast.  I made my cakes small-ish and thick-ish, akin to a crabcake.  And I stacked two on a nest of fresh baby spinach, topping them with a little vegan sour cream and cranberry relish–red is the complementary color of green–leftover from Christmas, finishing with a sprinkling of roasted and lightly salted pepitas.  The combination earns an A+ according to my stringent rubric.

(Note: certainly, you can serve this burger on a bun if you choose, but I prefer mine open-faced, as bread just provides too many calories and not enough nutrition in my diet of around 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day.  Keeps me in fighting form!)

I hope you agree.

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Burgers

Yield: 4 patties

2 cups black-eyed pea or any bean salad

2 brown rice cakes crumbled (may require more or less depending on moisture in your salad)

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

Vegetable oil

Optional accompaniment: baby spinach or your favorite greens

Vegan sour cream or your favorite sauce

Vegan relish or salsa (I used cranberry relish leftover from Christmas)

Optional garnish: roasted and lightly salted pepitas or your favorite nut or seed

In a food processor, pulse bean salad until it is finely minced and just starting to hold together.  Crumble 1 1/2 rice cakes into the processor and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together almost like a cookie dough, but with lots of texture and flecks of color.  Add the remaining rice cake or more if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Remove mixture to a bowl and, using a scoop or spoon, compact 1/4 of the dough into a patty about an inch tall.  Set on a plate.  Repeat with remaining mixture to make 4 patties.  Place yellow cornmeal in a shallow bowl and lay each patty on top, patting the cornmeal onto all the surfaces, flipping for a nice even coating top and bottom.  Heat a very thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium (or at whatever temperature gives you a nice sizzle).  Carefully place each patty into the pan, cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned on the first side, flip, and cook 3 more minutes or until lightly browned on the reverse.  Serve on a bed of baby greens, drizzle with vegan sour cream or a favorite sauce, top with a dollop of relish or salsa, and sprinkle with the nut or seed of your choice.

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Vegan Smokey Bean, Pumpkin, and Kale Chili

 

Yield: approximately 10 1-cup servings

I am happy to share another recipe that uses a traditional holiday ingredient–pumpkin–in a dish that bears no resemblance to Thanksgiving or Christmas foods.  I love holiday food as much as the next gal, but enjoy a break in between.

As a chili recipe, I don’t think this one needs a lot of preamble. However, I would say that what sets this recipe apart from the thousands of chili recipes out there, if I do say so, is the beautiful and careful balance of flavors–tangy, hot, sweet, and ever-so-slightly bitter–and textures–chewy, silky, and creamy. The velvety pumpkin soothes the acidity of the tomatoes and chilies in a magical way.

Plus it is bursting with healthful ingredients. And the whole pot is under 2,000 calories or less than 200 calories per 1 cup serving. That’s a whole lot of low calorie, low fat goodness.

Warm up with a cup!

Vegan Smokey Bean, Pumpkin, and Kale Chili

Note: All cans should be approximately 15 to 15.5 ounces:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 bell pepper diced (yellow, orange, or red)

3 to 4 celery hearts, finely diced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 to 4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 chili in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 cans beans, rinsed and drained, any kind (I like a tri-bean mix plus cannelini beans)

1 can corn, drained

Optional: 1/2 bunch cilantro, tied with kitchen twine

1 can pumpkin puree

1 can green enchilada sauce, medium heat

1 package taco seasoning

1 tablespoon ground cumin

12 ounces beer or nonalcoholic beer

12 cups lighty packed baby kale (I don’t remove stems, but you can)

Up to 1 cup water

Optional garnishes: vegan sour cream, vegan grated cheese, sliced green onion, fresh or pickled sliced jalapeno, sprigs of fresh cilantro, roasted and lightly salted pepitas, corn chips, etc.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high.  Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and a pinch of sea salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, until softened.  Add garlic, and saute, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Then, simply add all remaining ingredients, except kale, bring to a light boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Add water to think if necessary.  Remove cilantro.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in handfuls of kale and allow to wilt. Serve in cups, mugs, or bowls garnished as desired.

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Vegan Thai Green Bean Stir Fry

Yield: 4 servings

A gift of green beans freshly picked by good friends from their organic home garden inspired this simple recipe.

I love Sichuan green beans in Chinese restauants, but I was craving peanut butter, so I nudged these in a Thai direction using ingredients I had on hand. So quick and easy. Oh, and addicting.

You will love the way the sauce bathes the beans, marrying the two textures to become one luscious concoction.  I like to eat them with chopsticks out of a simple white bowl.

4 cups raw green beans, trimmed and, if desired, halved

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Juice of 1 medium lime

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon coconut or any granulated sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Thai Style Red Chili Powder [I love this spice, but if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, a Thai chili powder ground in a spice grinder or little more sriracha (see below) would do just fine]

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 drops sriracha

Optional (but I like): 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Garnish: finely chopped peanuts or cashews

Steam green beans for 8 minutes for al dente and 10 if you prefer them a little softer. Meanwhile whisk together remaining ingredients, except garnish, in a small bowl. Transfer the beans immediately into a skillet or wok set over medium to medium-high heat. As you gently stir fry them, drizzle them with the sauce. Continue cooking and stirring for about 2 minutes or until sauce is well distributed and beans are desired degree of doneness. Adjust temperature if necessary. Serve topped with finely chopped peanuts or cashews.

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White Bean, Sweet Potato, and Black Olive Burgers

I confess that this post is more of a general idea and place to start than a bona fide recipe.

These White Bean, Sweet Potato, and Black Olive patties were delicious and I wish I could share the recipe.  I just don’t know what amounts of ingredients were used because of the permutations this dish went through.

Still, the combination and end result was too satisfying not to share, even without specific proportions.  And I discovered a brilliant ingredient to help veggie patties hold together without egg.  So, I encourage you to start with these ingredients, have some fun, and create your own patties.  And please write down your amounts so that YOU can share with US.

These particular patties began their lives as a scrumptious salad that a friend brought to a potluck I hosted.  She is a vegetarian foodie who specializes in flavorful vegan salads; this particular one called for:

Cannellini beans (canned), rinsed and drained

Salt-cured black olives

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Fresh sage leaves

Sea salt and pepper to taste

She tossed it all together and it was lovely, but there was some left over, so she put a carton of it in my fridge.  I enjoyed a bit of it that way.  But,then, another day, wanting to use some raw spiralized sweet potato I had on hand (a sensational new ingredient in local grocery stores), I folded in a healthy amount of that.  A favorite Thanksgiving recipe from the past calls for sweet potato and cannellini beans, so I knew I liked that combination.  I then added a bit more lemon, sage, and a bare hint of maple syrup to balance the lemon.  My riff on Trish’s salad did not disappoint.

But now I had even more salad.  I love leftovers as much as the next gal but I was beginning to tire of it.  So, really tasty though it was, I decided that I wanted a new iteration to enjoy.  It occurred to me that the mixture might make delicious patties, but it would need to stick together a bit better.

Having used both old fashioned oats and nuts of various types in my Blooming Platter Burgers, I added some oats and raw cashew pieces.  And having used coconut flour in another recipe, I knew that it was especially good for absorbing moisture, so I added a bit of that.  What a great addition both for texture and taste:  the natural earthy hint of sweetness complemented all of the rest of the ingredients.

If I had to guess, I would say that I added about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of oats, cashews, and coconut flour to about 1 ½ cups of the bean-olive-sweet potato mixture, formed it into four patties, about 1-inch thick, and pan fried both sides over medium to medium-high heat for a couple of minutes in a skillet liberally coated with non-stick spray.  As you can see in the photo, I dressed it simply with baby greens, a dollop of vegan mayo, and a decorative squirt of sriracha.

So, start with these or similar ingredients, don’t forget the coconut flour, strive for a consistency similar to firm cookie dough, and make some bean burger magic of your own.

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Vegan Indian Chickpea, Spiralized Zucchini, and Cashew Salad

Yield: 8 servings

This beautiful protein-packed Indian spice-infused vegan salad is  my new summer crush. I want us to be together day and night.  And when we do, it’s difficult to cool us off.

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 1/2 ounces prepared Indian seasoning for red lentil dal (I use Jaswant’s Kitchen brand from Whole Foods, but feel free to substitute)

Juice of 1/2 large lemon or lime (I used a lemon)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

4 cups spiralized zucchini (I purchase

2 cups raw cashews

1 can chipckpeas, rinsed and drained

6 celery hearts, diced

2 large green onions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced

 

Optional garnishes: halved tri-color cherry tomatoes, roasted and lightly salted cashew halves, fresh cilantro sprigs

In a small bowl, whisk together vegan mayo, spice mixtures (Jaswant’s come in two tiny pouches), lemon or lime juice, and cilantro.

In a large bowl, gently toss together remaining ingredients, spoon dressing over the top, and toos to combine.  Serve garnished as desired with tri-color cherry tomatoe halves, cashews, and/or fresh cilantro.

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Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers
(Delicious as a cracker topping or sandwich filling)

Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell PeppersYield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings

Summer is meant for grilling, right?  Yea, no.  At least not at my house.  I’ve never been an outdoor griller, but I do have a much beloved stovetop grill pan that I use year-round.

A craving for caramelized onions and peppers with a bit of protein from some plump little white beans was the inspiration for this salad.  But these ingredients needed something creamy to hold it all together.  A little while back, I had made a beet green pesto–though any flavored pesto, commercial or homemade would be delicious–and decided to fold it into “lite” vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise brand) in a 1:2 ratio for the dressing.  Yum!

The only drawback was aesthetic.  Despite the red bell pepper, the overall color of the salad was pretty brown. Not wanting to add a green vegetable, as its consistency and flavor was just right as it was, I simply chopped up a little cilantro–although other green herbs would work nicely as well–and sprinkled it over the top.

This salad is filling enough to eat on its own, perhaps atop a bed of greens, but I like it on cracker bread for crispy-crunch.  The salad also cries out to be tucked into a wrap or stuffed in a pita pocket.

Regardless, you’ll be crying for more.

Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers

1 can cannelini beans (white beans), rinsed and drained

1 onion, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and cut into pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and diced

2 tablespoons vegan pesto, any flavor (I used a homemade beet green pesto)

Approximately 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/4 teasoon garlic powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: finely chopped cilantro, chives, parsley, or other fresh green herb

In a medium bowl, gently combine beans, onion, and red bell pepper.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.  Spoon over vegetables.  Fold together until completely combined, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over greens, on crackers or toast, or in a pita or wrap.

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Vegan Smoky Grilled Asparagus and Chickpea Salad
in Raddichio Cups

GrilledAsparagus and Chickpea Salad in Raddichio CupsYield: 4 to 6 servings

I am constantly seduced by produce and, once I return home, scramble to make sure it doesn’t meet a soggy end in the bottom of the hydrator drawer.

Most recently, it was big, bulbous, juicy bell peppers–a red, orange, and a yellow–and asparagus.  The can of cannelini beans I thought I had in the pantry turned out to be garbanzo peans (chickpeas), but that was just fine as a protein.  Being a fan of creamy beans combined with something juicy and crunchy, like cucumbers or bell peppers, I knew I would add one of the bell peppers.  But I wanted an earthy flavor to contrast with the neutral-flavored beans and the almost sweet snap of the bell pepper.  Grilled asparagus!

Then all my salad needed was a binder.  I happen to love mayonnaise, especially the low-fat variety of Vegenaise.  This creamy white base was perfect for me, but if you prefer an oil and vinegar-based dressing, by all means; you just won’t get the same bind unless you emulsify it really well in a food processor or blender.

To boost the fresh tasting flavors, I added a bit of basil chiffonade leftover from a Thai soup the night before.  And for a burst of brightness, the juice of half a lemon, though you could use the zest if you only wanted the lemony flavor without the astringency.  Finally, because I had chickpeas and not cannelini beans, I added a little hit of sumac, though if you don’t have it and can’t find it at an international or Middle Eastern market, it is not a deal breaker.  But it imparts a little more earthy lemon flavor and a hinit of red color.

To add a note of pleasing bitterness and to contain the salad without need of bread or a cracker, raddichio leaves proved to be the perfect little cups.  Plus, for both reasons of nutrition and aesthetics, I like to enjoy as many colors of vegetables as I can all at once, so the deep red-violet brought its beauty and healthful benefits to the party.  The perfect party hat?  A few chopped smoked almonds.

1 bunch slender asparagus, trimmed, grilled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (I trim about 1/3 of the bottom of the stalk, and grill in an indoor grill pan lightly sprayed with nonstick spray for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning every every few minutes, as I like it quite caramelized.)

I 15.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/4 to 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll rightly, and cutinto very thin slices)

4 to 6 Raddichio leaves

Garnish:: about 4 to 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped smoked almonds

Combine all beans and vegetables in a medium bowl.   Make a well in the center, add remaining ingredients, except raddichio and smoked almonds, whisk together and then begin to incorporate into beans and vegetables until all are coated evenly.  Dividie and serve in raddichio leaves garnished with about 1 tablespoon of chopped smoked almonds.

 

 

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Day 17: Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today’s recipe is the Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada. Spoiler alert: I will tell you now that this recipe got a rating of 4 in my book which is the highest rating possible.

To explain, my husband and I started this rating system during winery visits where we would write a number of 1-4 beside each wine we tasted. (The winery owners would get very excited thinking we were buying that many bottles!) Anyway this dish was so good I even packed up the leftovers to go on a trip so we could enjoy it again.

I always start by reading through the recipe and making sure I have everything. Check. Then I got started on the olivada so it would be ready when needed. I had purchased two tiny cans of olives thinking they were 6 ounce cans but no, they were 1.5 ounces. I have never been very good at estimating weights and measures clearly. So I used both cans but had to cut the other ingredients in half.

I went to my newly reorganized spice cabinet so proud that now I would be able to find everything I needed – but there was no oregano. How is that possible? I always have oregano. I tore through the cabinet from A to Z but there was none to be found. (Now I need to reorganize again.) No problem – I grow oregano in my herb garden. I have cultivated the same plant for 10 years and it has grown to be one of the largest plants I have. The leaves are dry now in winter but I can still use them. I grabbed my scissors and went out and…no oregano plant! Instead there was a huge hole! The dog had dug up my oregano plant and -ugh!!!!- replaced it with a gross toy! Are you kidding me?!! Things are going from bad to worse and I refuse to go to the grocery store for oregano. I finally decided to use a Greek seasoning I had on hand.

Once the olivada was done I took a taste and wow! I got some crackers out and started snacking while I started on the squash. The rest of the preparation was easy until I saw that I was supposed to have roasted the garlic. Too late – we are all hungry. So I just minced it and put it in the pan. One day I will try and roast a garlic but not today.

Arranging as instructed was like designing a work of art. It was beautiful when complete. I even used a cookie scoop to place the beans on the center of the fan of squash. Perfection!! Of course I got joked by the guys for taking the time to arrange a side dish, but one bite and they quickly stopped making fun of me. It goes without saying that this dish will be repeated many times in our household and I will definitely be making the olivada for parties.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan Coconut Dal (Yellow or Red Lentils) with Spinach–So Quick, Easy, and Tasty

Coconut Dal with SpinachYield: 6 servings

I have made other versions of this Indian staple, so rich, colorful, and satisfying without being heavy, but this may be the easiest and most straight forward, not to mention tastiest.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder (I used a fairly mild variety from Spice Ace in San Francisco, but use your favorite)

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound yellow or red lentils (I purchased red which was all Kroger carried), but they cooked up yellow, which is what I wanted), rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable stock

1-15.5 ounce can coconut milk (I used the “lite” version, but you get SO much more flavor with the regular)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 lightly packed cups fresh baby spinach

Garnish: quartered red grape tomatoes and, if desired (recommended), toasted coconut

In a large pot (e.g. 4-quart), heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring, about 3 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds.  Stir in spices, add lentils, stock, coconut milk, salt and pepper and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes or until desired consistency is reached, adding more stock, if desired.  Just before serving, wilt in spinach, 2 cups at a time.  Serve garnished with tomatoes and optional toasted coconut.

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