Thursday, March 15, 2018

Foraging recipe: veggie burgers with chickpeas and edible weeds, vegetarian and gluten-free

All week long I've been eating these veggie burgers/patties, just dripping with the foraged green goddess dressing.
I'll share the dressing recipe soon!

I love me a good veggie burger. (I love a good meat burger too!)

But I've never met a pre-formed frozen patty that I could actually call a good veggie burger. Not even the expensive, organic ones from places I rarely shop in. Part of the problem, I think, is that too many veggie burgers try to be meat substitutes. They try to emulate the texture, and in some cases, the flavor of ground beef.

I guess that makes sense for vegetarians and vegans, who might be craving something they can't have. But, since I am not a vegetarian, I eat plenty of actual beef. So when I want a veggie burger, it's because I am deliberately seeking out the unique flavors, textures and even colors that you can't get with meat.

Of course, some frozen veggie burgers DON'T go the meat substitute route, but they are still a product specifically designed to be mass-produced and shipped and stored in a frozen state for an indeterminate length of time, and reheated through whatever technique the user desires. They are formed first for connivence, and only second for flavor.

This time I used wild curly dock. These burgers are also good with nettles or sow thistle.
Not a forager? Try spinach or kale instead.

My version of a good veggie burger uses a lot of leafy greens. This time I opted for curly dock, because it was abundant and looking super tasty. Sometimes I use nettles, sow thistle, wild mustard greens, pokeweed or lambsquarters, or a mix of any of the above.

I use beans. Depending on the flavor profile I'm aiming for, I usually use black beans (with Mexican seasonings), chickpeas (with Indian or Middle Eastern flavors), or white beans (cannelloni) with Italian seasonings.

This time I mixed it up. I was craving an Italian twist, but I had chickpeas on-hand. As Bob Ross would have said, "It's your world. There are no mistakes, just happy accidents."

If you're thinking that these veggie burgers sound a lot like the pokeweed veggie patties I shared last year, you're right. And I'll probably share something similar next year, I simply love having a lot of these patty/burgers, made from different ingredients, on hand.

Cheesy chickpea burgers with backyard weeds

Makes 10 burger-sized patties. Total time: 20 minutes

6-8 cups leafy garden weeds, roughly chopped
2 cans chickpeas, white beans or black beans, rinsed 
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 bulbs wild garlic, or 2 cloves cultivated garlic, minced
3/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan) or breadcrumbs
1 cup grated cheese, I used a mix of Parmesan, Romano & Asiago
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano (or dried wild cleavers or bergamot/bee balm)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sea salt
olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Blanch your leafy greens for about 1 minute, maybe 2 if you are using nettles. Drain.
  2. In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in your onion, and cook until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in your chickpeas and cook until softened and lightly browned (about 3-5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, mix your greens, chickpea/onion/garlic mixture, grated cheese, egg and spices. 
  4. Add in your chickpea flour or breadcrumbs in small amounts, mixing each time, until you get the right consistency. The mix should be thick and sticky, but still very moist.
  5. Heat oven to 350, and coat a foil-lined baking sheet with olive oil. Form your mix into burger-sized patties, and space on the sheet. 
  6. Bake for 10-13 minutes, and flip. Redcoat your foil with oil, if needed. Bake for another 10-13 minutes and serve heated.

Want to learn how to identify curly dock in your own backyard?
 Check out my post! 

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