Homemade veggie burgers with kale. Yes, please.
The world of food blogs can be, well… overwhelming. This is why I always get excited when I come across one and immediately think, “Yes. This.” Green Girl Eats is one of those blogs. Helen who runs it is smart, practical and a good photographer (but not the kind that makes you think “oh god, they wrapped another sandwich in twine??”), and most importantly she doesn’t take herself too seriously; mega points in my book. Her recipes are inspiring yet simple and she’s all about green, vegetarian fare. Excellent.
She happens to be a Foodie Underground fan as well, and offered to do a guest post complete with a recipe. You know what that means? Kale extravaganza! She knows the Foodie Underground beat well so I am not surprised that she offered up her recipe for Chickpea Kale Potato Burgers. All I have to say is: go find some kale leaves immediately.
Without further ado, here is Helen:
Chickpea Kale Potato Burgers from Helen Williams of Green Girl Eats
Whenever I’ve made mention of the fact that I’ve taken to the vegetarian way (going on almost five years now), the first thing most people want to know is about my sense of deprivation. They want to know if I miss fried chicken or fresh fish or, most often with a gasp, bacon.
My answer is usually the same: sometimes, but not really. However, my friends, if there’s any time in your life where it’s rough to be a veggie, it would have to be summer. Chock full of reunions, vacations and family get-togethers, summer is the season of the cookout, the barbeque and the burger. And sure, while veggie burgers are always a viable option, a what-exactly-am-I-eating patty you can stick on a sesame seed bun, slather in ketchup and pretend to enjoy, I decided that us vegetarians deserve better. At least better than what you can find in the frozen food section of your local grocery store. While the world has provided us a slew of options with ingredient lists a mile long, I wanted a simple, tasty, soy-free version of a burger that was hearty, filling, flavorful and would cause me to diss-not-miss the classic beef standby.
For this burger, you’ll need:
4-5 medium sized gold potatoes, par-boiled, peeled and cubed
1 big bunch curly kale, stemmed and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt & pepper to taste
Soft but sturdy rolls (a great option for subtle sweetness: challah!)
Lettuce, tomato or any other fresh, crisp veggies for topping
For the spicy peanut sauce, you’ll need:
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh grated garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using an olive oil cooking spray, lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside. While that’s happening, get a large pot of salted water boiling. Drop in your peeled potatoes until they are fork-tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Pre-cooking the potatoes helps in two ways: they are already mostly ready before you put them in the oven to bake and their starchy quality once boiled lends a hand in holding your burgers together while shaping. Win-win, you see. When they are cool to touch, chop your potatoes into small, bite-size cubes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once warmed, add your olive oil, garlic and red onion, sauteing until fragrant and/or your onions start to lose their purple color. Sad. Add your chopped kale and continue to stir until your kale is slightly wilted. Though kale is rather sturdy as far as greens come, this will happen relatively quickly. Transfer to the bowl with the potatoes and set aside, again.
In a small bowl, whisk together your 3 eggs. The eggs have the holding quality in this recipe and will be the component that keeps your burgers from completely falling apart–sort of. It’s a tricky ratio, this egg-to-breadcrumb business, and you may find that you need another egg or another pinch of crumbs in order to keep everything together in a patty-like shape.
In your large bowl, now holding your kale and potato mixture, add your chickpeas. You could stir with a spoon, but getting hands on is really the way to go. Scoop right in there and make sure things are well acquainted and evenly distributed. Add your breadcrumbs, salt and pepper as you see fit and pour your whisked eggs over the top. Now is when you might consider getting out a spoon or rubber spatula to make sure everything is evenly coated. You can then allow this mixture to sit for about 3-5 minutes, giving everyone a moment to get to know each other and start to stick together.
As you start forming your burgers, you may notice that things are going along great or that chickpeas are rolling here and there refusing to stick to the plan. Scan up and see the reference to more egg: totally okay and maybe necessary. You be the judge.
Once you’ve formed your veggie patties, enough for about 6-8 hefty servings, stick them in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the tops are lightly browned, also ensuring that the egg is fully cooked through. Another way to tell is when your exterior kale pieces resemble perfectly crisp kale chips: glorious.
While you’re patiently (oh, please) waiting for these guys to bake off, it’s time to get started on your sauce. Oh, this sauce. Originally inspired by this recipe by Food52, my version has now become a kitchen standby, adding it to salads, stir fries and noodles. It’s that good. Part of the reason I was so originally amped to try this sauce is because of the ever-elusive ingredient, pomegranate molasses, which we just so happened to have in our pantry, purchased a week prior for another recipe that never got made. I mean, who am I to argue with fate? If you don’t have pomegranate molasses, you could substitute regular molasses or honey (though I’d halve the amount–the pommie version is much more tart than either of these options). However, if you’d like to find and use pomegranate molasses, you may visit your local Whole Foods (where I procured my bottle, in the spices + sweeteners aisle, right under the maple syrup) or a local Middle Eastern specialty food store, should you be so lucky to have one in your area. Then again, there is also the internet, but nothing like a good stalk-the-rare-ingredient to liven up the chase, no?
ANYWAY, the beauty of this recipe is the simplicity of the instructions: add all ingredients to a blender and whiz it up until smooth. Oh, if only all blenders had a whizzing option. In my world, they do.
All that’s left after this point is to assemble and see how you did. My guess is, if you’re constructing a veggie burger with fresh ingredients, ditching the fillers along with all those say-is-that-a-mushroom moments, you can’t lose. The salty-spicy sauce goes satisfyingly well with the creaminess of the potato and crispness of the kale, all wrapped up with crunchy lettuce on that sweet challah roll: who feels left out of the picnic now?