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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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 Pea Burger in Paradise

Yield: 4 main dish burgers or 1 dozen appetizer size

I am not sure why I had a can of peas in my pantry. Frozen?  Sure.  Canned?  That is what I feed my food-obsessed dog, Urban, to bulk up his meals. Granted, I serve him the unsalted variety, but still, I can’t imagine how those peas ended up coming home with me.  But when life gives you peas…make Vegan Pea Burgers in Paradise.

Even for a meal, I love to make these as appetizer size burgers and serve them open-face atop 2 to 3 leaves of baby kale with a dollop of vegan sriracha-mayo and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Micro meals are perfect for me, but if a big dressed burger on a toasted bun is your jam, by all means.

I feel all of the ingredients are key for the best taste and texture but if, for instance, you are a gfluten-free kind of cook, then try replacing the vital wheat gluten with more oats. (But I think the vwg is irreplaceable for its “chew” factor.)

1-15 ounce can English peas, drained

1 very tightly packed cup baby kale

1/2 cup Old Fashioned oats

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/4 to 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Juice of 1/4 medium lemon or lime

2 large cloves garlic, halved

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 toasted buns or 24 to 36 leaves baby kale

Vegan Sriracha Mayo (recipe follows)

Garnish: sprigs fresh rosemary

Pulse first 12 ingredients together until a textured dough forms. Spray skillet with non-stick spray.  Place over medium to medium-high. Shape 4 large or 12 small patties and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown, adding more spray if necesssry.  Serve regular burgers on toasted buns with baby kale, sriracha mayo and fresh rosemary sprigs or serve small burgers on 2 to 3 baby kale leaves topped with dollops of sriracha mayo and sprigs of rosemary.

Vegan Sriracha Mayo

1/4 cup vegan mayo

1 generous teaspoon sriracha

Whisk together until well combined.

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Chef Ernesto’s All-Natural Vegan and Vegetarian Foods at..wait for it…Dollar Tree!

As a high school art teacher frequently in need of cheap prizes (fun erasers, pencil sharpenters, etc.) for my “Prize Patrol”–a bin of prizes I award to the winners of art-related competitions during our morning journal entries–I often find myself in Dollar Tree, a locally-grown (get it?) company.  Wherever you live, I hope Dollar Tree has come to your area.  It’s a life-saver for so many occasions.

Recently, I was standing in the checkout line behind a woman who decided that she didn’t want the box of veggie burgers she had picked up.  I quickly said that, if they were vegan, I would be happy to try them.  And they were (though they are called “100% Vegetarian”)!  Chef Ernesto’s Veggie Burgers come two to a box and the box costs, yep, $1, as does everything in the store.

While they are not necessarily the best veggie burgers I have ever eaten–the texture is a bit soft for my taste–they are respectable and right tasty.  A little spicy, they are packed with recognizeable veggies, but they are also a little oily (though they contain no trans fat or saturated fat).  So they definitely aren’t plagued by dryness, as so many brands are.  I would recommend blotting them on paper towels before serving, and I would heat them in a skillet rather than the microwave for a hint of crunchiness on the exterior.

Each all-natural pattie contains 130 calories and, at 5 grams, not terribly packed with protein but, again, for 50 cents a burger, they are a bargain and I will likely be purchasing more.  The vegan line also includes Vegetable Samosas and Battered Mushrooms (that look breaded to me), so, if you have access to a Dollar Tree, check them out and let me know what you think.

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Vegan Turmeric-Tamari Black Bean Burger [with Navitas Naturals Turmeric-Tamari Almonds (or the flavored almonds of your choice)]

Turmeric-Tamari Black Bean BurgerYield: 4 burgers

This delicious vegan burger was inspired by a “care package” from the good folks at Navitas Naturals filled with three items to test: Cacao Powder, Turmeric-Tamari Almonds, and Coconut Sugar.

(Note: these burgers would be equally delicious, albeit with a different flavor profile, made with other flavored almonds of your choice.)

All three products earned big thumb’s up from me when tasted separately and prepared as part of a specially-created recipe, including my Vegan Hot Chai Cocoa prepared with the Cacao Powder and my utterly decadent Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganach Tarts prepared with the coconut sugar which I will post soon.

I decided to incorporate the almonds into one of my no-fail burgers.  For The Blooming Platter Cookbook, I developed a formula for a chewy, moist burger that holds together beautifiully and can be adapted a multitude of ways.  And it took several tries to get it right!  The key ingredients are cooked beans or legumes, nuts, vital wheat gluten, and raw oats plus onion, celery, and bell pepper (or,in this case, winter greens) for flavor and mositure, and the spices of your choice.  All of the ingredients go into the food processor and in minutes a beautiful burger is born.

For this recipe, I served the patty open-face on a toasted pretzel roll (so perfect with a slight tang from vinegar baked into the dough), a “schmear” of vegan mayo, some baby kale leaves, a slice of GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Pepperjack Cheese, a fat round of Roma tomato, a dollop of Vegan Turmeric-Tamari Mayo inspired by the almonds, and a dill pickle slice speared on top.

Our beloved 85-lb. Great Dane mutt, Minnie, and I loved them: she ate the first one that I had staged for a photo while I had run upstairs to get my camera, red plastic spear and all.  I’ll spare you all of the disgusting details, but a frantic text to our vet resulted in my making a special “cocktail” involving 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide that would bring it all back up and prevent that 3-inch red plastic spear from doing any intestinal damage.  It worked like a charm and, if interested, you can read about it here.

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion

1/3 cup coarsely chopped celery

1/2 cup coarsely chopped winger greens (I used mustard greens)

1/2 cup Navitas Naturals Turmeric-Tamari Almonds (or another similarly flavored almond of your choice)

1-15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon tamari

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil (I typically use canola)

2 Pretzel Rolls, halved and toasted

4 tablespoons Vegan Mayonnaise

1 cup baby kale leaves (or another lettuce or green)

Optional: 4 slices vegan cheese (I use GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Pepperjack Slices

4 thick slices Roma tomato

Vegan Turmeric-Tamari Mayo (recipe follows)

4 dill pickle slices

In a food processor, combine the garlic, onion, celery, winter greens, and almonds.  Pulse until minced. Add the beans, oats, vital wheat gluten, tamari, olive oil, water, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Process until well combined, but avoid over-mixing as the vital wheat gluten can toughen. The consistency should be similar to a very stiff cookie dough, so add another tablespoon or 2 of water if necessary.  Shape mixture into 4 patties, about 3/4-inch thick, and transfer to a plate. Heat a thin layer of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high and cook the patties for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary.  If including cheese, place a slice on top of each patty during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking on the second side. To serve, spread each toasted pretzel roll half with 1 tablespoon of mayo, top with 1/4 of greens, a burger patty, a slice of tomato, 1/4 of the Turmeric-Tamari Mayo, and a folded dill pickle slice speared through the top.

 

Vegan Turmeric-Tamari Mayo

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon tamari

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Whisk together all ingredients in a small cup or bowl.  Taste and adjust with more tamari or turmeric of desired.

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Vegan “Go Bean” Burgers with Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping–A Tofutti Exclusive

Green-Go Bean Burger 3Yield: 4 burgers

I love developing recipes, like these “Go Bean” green-themed burgers, exclusively for Tofutti Brands, Inc! 

These simple, delicious and nutritious Mexican-spiced patties hold together beautifully and their pleasantly chewy texture is the perfect counterpoint to their spicy-tart Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping made with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese.

Lima beans may sound odd for a bean burger–though you can use whatever bean you prefer–but I had some fresh ones on hand from our farmer’s market; and they are, in fact, what spawned the whole “green” approach: butter lettuce instead of a bun, a thick slice of green tomato, the Green Chili “Cream Cheese” Topping with lime zest, and a garnish of fresh lime.

And about that topping:  it’s delicious on these burgers, but it would be fabulous on an old shoe…it’s that good!  Your beef burger-eating friends will be green with envy!

Note that Tofutti makes two types of Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream, one with transfat and one without, each in its own color carton.  So read the nutrition information to make sure you purchase the one you prefer. 

1 3/4 cup fresh cooked lima beans (or 1-15.5 ounce can of your favorite bean, rinsed and drained)

1/3 cup walnuts (or your favorite nut)

1/3 cup uncooked oatmeal

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or soy sauce

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

Optional: 1 tablespoon water

4 toasted hamburger buns or 4 butter lettuce leaves

4 slices green tomato

Green Chili-“Cream Cheese” Topping (recipe follows)

Optional Garnish: lime zest and/or thin slices of lime

 

Place all ingredients, except tomato, topping, and bun–using only 1 of the tablespoons olive oil and optional water–in a food processor and pulse until mixture is well combined.  Then run motor for a few seconds until mixture holds together; avoid over processing.  Shape mixture into 4 patties about 3/4-inch thick.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high in a large cast iron skillet.  Add patties and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, adding another tablespoon of oil and swirling around pan if needed halfway through.  Flip, add remaining tablespoon of oil, swirl, and cook another 5 minutes to brown remaining side.  Place each patty on a bun or lettuce leaf, top with a slice of tomato and 1/4 of the sauce, and serve immediately.  Garnish, if desired, with lime zest and/or thin slices of lime.

 

Green Chili-“Cream Cheese” Topping

8 ounces Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

1 can chopped green chilies, drained

Zest of 1 small lime

In a small bowl, heat cream cheese for about a minute in the microwave or until very soft and stir-able.  Add green chilies, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

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Vegan Backyard Barbeque

Memorial Day will be here before we know it. For a vegan menu that is cause for celebration, check out this link to a feature I wrote for The Virginian-Pilot:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/05/host-vegan-backyard-barbecue

The article includes the following recipes:
-Grilled Basic Vegan Burgers, Soy Cheese Burgers
– Vegan Cowboy Steaks
-Grilled Corn on the Cob with Soy Herb Butter
-Grilled Veggie Kebabs

For the grilled pound cake, try the pound cake recipe at http://aveganfordinner. blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: Bill Tiernan
Photo Styling: Betsy DiJulio

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