Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spicy Black Bean Burger

Some times a guy just craves a good burger. But it's hard to find a good veggie burger patty. Those ones you buy in the store in the frozen food section leave something to be desired for sure. I know people who buy them and like them but, for me, they're too small, too dry, and too flavorless. As such, there is only one thing left to do. Get your bean on!! (why do I say things like that? why?!)

Now you can make a vegetarian burger out of many different types of ingredients like mushrooms, chickpeas, rice, lentils, corn, etc. But, of them all, and I sit here now typing this, my favorite is of the black bean variety. Disclaimer: Please be advised that this can and probably will change at my most arbitrary of whims.

I read recently that the average person has 7 "go-to" recipes that they use and stick with. Let me say that again in other words. Aside from maybe dining out, they only eat seven different things. The mere thought of that actually makes me shudder. However, in all honesty, I can look back through my years on this planet and tell you that I have been guilty of that type of culinary rut. It wasn't until I went vegetarian that I broke that pattern. Kind of ironic, actually.  

This recipe has quite a few ingredients but they all meld well together. And it's an easy recipe to put together. The whole thing takes maybe a half hour to prep and is ready in about and hour. Please take note of the word "spicy" in the title. Spicy is relative. Now, I'm a self proclaimed chile-head but I'm so over the whole "look at me eat super hot chile peppers, aren't I manly?" mentality. That being said, I consider this recipe to be on the mild side of spicy. However, I know someone, who shall remain nameless (I love you sweetie), who would categorize this recipe as "what the hell did you put in there?" So just be a mindful of the peppers in this recipe. Again, this is mild but definitely has a tiny little kick. If you don't like that, cut back or leave them out completely. 

Spicy Black Bean Burger


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained, rinsed, and strained
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz quick outs
  • 4 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage


1. Heat oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add bell pepper and onion and saute until the onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute. 

2. Place sauteed ingredients in a mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Mix the ingredients together crushing/squeezing it so as to break the beans up and bind everything. You want to crush the beans, not completely mush them like a puree. The texture should still be somewhat chunky. 

3. Break the mixture into about five portions. This will give you five (roughly) 6 ounce patties. Feel free to form them by hand. If so, wet your hands with cold water first to keep the mixture from sticking too much. But if you're anal like me, use a round flat-bottomed plastic container lined with plastic wrap to form your patties.  

4. Place formed patties on a plastic wrap covered  tray and let them set up for at least a half hour. You don't want to skip this step for two reasons. First, the patties will firm up, helping to ensure they don't fall apart while you cook them. Secondly, this will give the oats time to absorb moisture and therefore soften. If you cook them too early, the oats might be crunchy or chewy. So be patient and let them set. 

5. Now it's time to cook your burgers. You can do this two ways: bake or pan fry. If you choose to bake, preheat over to 375 degrees. Place you patties on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes then flip the patties and bake for 10 more minutes. Alternatively, heat about 3/4 Tbsp (per patty) in a skillet over a medium-high heat. Pan fry the patties for about 3 minutes per side. There are perks to both method. Baking dries the patty well enough to leave moist but take on that "burger" texture. While pan frying give the outer portion a nice crispiness but leaves the center a tad mushy. Either way, they are quite tasty. Hmmmm. I wonder what might happen if you baked them first, then hit them up in the pan for a minute or so on each side. Best of both worlds? 

5. Serve on burger buns, ciabatta rolls, facoccia bread, etc, along with your favorite accoutrements such as lettuce, tomato, sprouts, guacamole, cucumber, mayo, ketchup and so forth....

Serves: 6

Monday, January 7, 2013


I Feel Awful! (no I don't)

Every time I hear the word falafel, that's the first thing that pops into my mind..Feel Awful. A few days ago, I was testing out possible blog post names and decided to run it past my wife. She rolled her eyes at me and said it was predictable and way too easy. Fast forward to today and I asked her if she wanted some falafel. She said no because if she ate falafel, she'd feel awful. Then she proceeded to giggle. When I didn't laugh, she asked why? I said because you told me it was predictable when I made it up previously so why should I laugh? She then tried to tell me that SHE made it up. Then denied we ever had that conversation and claimed that she would never have told me it was predictable. My wife is coo coo.  

If you've never had falafel, you are in for a treat. They pack a %&@-load (or butt-load, if you prefer) of flavor into a little fritter that you and can pack into a pita pocket or eat alone as an appetizer. It's an Arab food traditionally served with a tahini sauce, a sesame seed based condiment. However, I have found that I am not a fan of traditional tahini sauce. I tried. It just didn't work for me. 

So I found a few alternative sauces that kick booty with this dish. The first is a "tahini based" sauce that includes cilantro and parley. Found this one on an Indian food site that, by the way, rocks. I've tried several of her recipes and totally dig them. If fact, the falafel recipe was adapted from this site as well. 

The second sauce is a tzatziki sauce. This is a Greek yogurt-based sauce that is traditionally served as topping or condiment for gyros. OOOHH....It just hit me. This is fusion. You got Greek/Arab fusion and Indian/Arab fusion depending on which sauce you choose. Either way, you have perfection. 

So..this recipe includes the falafel along with both sauce recipes. I put the feel-awful in front of my wife along with both sauces asked her which one she liked best. She couldn't pick. She loved them both but basically said it's apples and oranges. Both are so different and both are so good. 

Sorry to do you this way but I guess you'll have to try them both. It's okay....your not gonna lose either way. 


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 green chili (jalapeno, serrano, etc)
  • About 1/4 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (crushed red peppers)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Also need oil to fry


1. Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover them with water. The water should be an inch or so over  the chickpeas. Let them sit over night preferably for about 24 hours. They should double in size.  

2. In a sauce pan, boil the chickpeas over a medium to medium-high heat in about 4 cups of water for 20 minutes until they are tender but not soft. You don't want the chickpeas to be over cook and soak in too much water. If you do, they will basically disintegrate in the oil when you try to cook them. So no more than 20 minutes. Once done, drain the water and let the chickpeas cool. 

3. In a food processor, combine chickpeas and the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Pulse until coarsely blended. The mixture should not be pasty and should have a grainy texture. See photo below. The mixture might be slightly dry. If so, add 1-2 Tbsp of water and pulse it again to incorporate the water. You should be able to form patties easily. 

4. Form falafel into approximately 20 small patties, 1 1/2 inches across and maybe 3/4 inches thick.   

5. Heat oil in a frying pan or pot on medium high heat. The frying pan should have about 1 1/2 inches of oil. You can check the oil to see if it ready by putting a small piece of the falafel dough into it and if it bubbles immediately, the oil is ready. Don't heat the oil on high because you don't want it too hot. If it's too hot, the falafel will cook too quickly on the outside and not cook enough in the middle. If your tester dough turns brown quickly, your oil is to hot. 

6. Slowly drop the falafel patties in the oil and fry until they are brown in color both sides. You should try not to cook too many at once. I usually do the full recipe in about 3-4 batches batches  It should take about 4-5 minutes to cook each batch but use your judgement. The should be a darker but still golden brown. 

7. Set patties on a paper towels to absorb excess oil. 

8. Serve the falafel as a stand alone appetizer with the dipping sauces or, put them into pita pockets with shredded lettuce, chops tomatoes and cucumber and top them with the sauce. 


Tahini Sauce

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • About 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • About 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 green chili adjust to taste
  • A few Tbsps of water as needed


1. Using a frying pan, dry toast the sesame seeds on medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes. They may change color a bit but only very slightly.

2. Add sesame seeds along with the remaining ingredients to a blender and puree to a smooth pourable sauce. If too think, add a tablespoon of water until sauce is thick but pourable. Then refrigerate until your ready to use it.  



Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lb cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt


1. The first thing you need to determine is if your yogurt needs to be strained. I have seen several recipes that call for this procedure before putting the sauce together but I have found that, with the yogurt I buy, this step is not necessary. If the yogurt holds a shape when spooned, you probably won't need to do this. But if it doesn't, you can put the yogurt into cheesecloth lined strainer over a bowl and let it strain in the fridge for 3-4 hours. If you're not using Greek yogurt, you will definitely have to strain it, possibly over night. That being said, it's strongly recommended that you use the Greek yogurt. It'll just make a superior sauce. 

2. Next, peel your cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. You can chop the cucumbers in a food processor by pulsing them. You do not want to puree them. Just pulse to a small dice. This allows for a little texture to the sauce.

3. Put you cucumbers in a few layers of cheesecloth and squeeze the excess water out. This is important because your sauce might be too watery if it's not done. 

4. Finally, add all the ingredients back into the food processor and pulse to combine. If you're not using a food processor, of course you can just mix it together by hand with a large spoon.