Garden Burgers

The Kid simply adores Curious George.  The books, the TV series, the thinly disguised learning games on the PBS website, he loves them all.  So when he found this recipe for Chef Pisghetti's Giardino Burgers (featured in Episode 19) while obsessively clicking on coloring pages and doing his level best to burn his way through my overpriced ink cartridges, he printed it out, raced to me and asked, "Mommy, Mommy, can you make this?"

(Child of mine, because of your food allergies I've made you pastries without butter, pizzas without cheese, meatballs without beef and custards without eggs.  I think I can manage your little cartoon inspired veggie burgers.)

"Of course, Sweetie, no problem."

If you've never seen hubris before, take a good look.  Pride, meet Fall.

By my last count I've made six different versions of the things.  The good news is that no matter how unappealing the result, The Kid has happily gobbled them up.  My first attempt was very similar to the original recipe and was the only one baked in the oven.  The patties more closely resembled unleavened gray zucchini bread than any burger ever manufactured.  Since then I've moved to the frying pan, added veggies (and taken some out again), fiddled with the type of binders and fillings, adjusted the amount of moisture repeatedly and finally found a seasoning mixture I like.

My latest effort finally looked and tasted good enough to be eaten enthusiastically by my meat loving husband, too.  The patties' only downfall is that they are still not as firm as I would like.  (Whatever you do, do not, repeat, do not try to cook these on a grill!)  On the upside they are now gluten free, at least until they meet a bun, and they feature my new favorite egg substitute for recipes with a "nutty" texture:  coarsely ground flax seed mixed into hemp milk.  You could substitute any other type of nondairy milk or even use water if you don't have any hemp milk hanging out in your kitchen.

Garden Burgers
1/2 C hemp milk plus 1/4 C ground flax seed
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 C cooked rice
1/2 C grated zucchini (about 1 baby or 1/2 large)
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp kosher salt
oil or nondairy margarine for the pan

Stir flax into hemp milk and set aside.  The combination will turn into a mass that could easily win a starring role in a remake of The Blob, but trust me, it will give your patties a lovely, nutty taste and texture.  Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl to a chunky peanut butter consistency.  Stir in the rice, vegetables, seasonings and flax mixture.

Add just enough oil or margarine to a nonstick frying pan to cover the bottom of it and heat over medium.  Shape chickpea mixture either by hand or with a patty press.  (I have one that I found at the grocery store for less than $2.)  The patty releases better if you rinse the press in water first.

Saute the patties until golden brown on both sides, then serve like any other burger.  (Don't be surprised if the consistency is more like a Sloppy Joe, though!)  Makes about six, depending on the size of the patty.

Update:  I've corrected the quantity of grated zucchini from 1 C to 1/2 C.

I'm sharing my Gardenburgers with My Legume Love Affair #26, the long running food event begun by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, which is being hosted this month by Simona of briciole as well as this week's Vegetarian Foodie Friday link up hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite and Just Another Meatless Monday link up hosted by Laura of Hey, What's For Dinner Mom?


Melodie said...

Hey - thanks for finding me and for linking up too! I just wanted to let you know that I just put up a new Vegetarian Foodie Friday for today if you want to link there too as it will get more exposure being the newest edition. These burgers look great too. My girls love chick peas!

VegeCooking Club said...

Oo these sound great. This is one I wouldn't mind testing out as if my 2 yr old doesn't want to try them I can eat them! She's so funny...sometimes she'll try anything and sometimes she won't even taste it. I guess that's a 2 yr old for ya.

Alisa said...

They sound great! egg-free veggie burgers are definitely a skill to master.

Simona Carini said...

I totally enjoyed reading your post. However, I think that this is "Tenacity, meet Victory." What I see in the photo looks very enticing. And I like the way you describe the hemp milk + ground flax seed: I got the idea. Thank you so much for participating.

Heather S-G said...

If at first you don't succeed....!!! This recipe sounds like a winner...YUM! =)

elana said...

looks great! my son (allergic to dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame) doesn't do great with flax seed. okay to leave it out? he's good with eggs (finally!) if that's something i should add?

Libby said...

elana, the hemp milk/flax seed mixture IS the egg substitute, so mixing in 2 eggs instead should give the right amount of moisture and binding properties.

let me know how they turn out!