Unlike the vast majority of Americans, my New Year’s Resolution was not the myth of working out more. In fact, my wife is rather annoyed with me for having surrendered the gym altogether. Which is fair, I need to be more active and I can’t keep using ‘winter’ as an excuse. No, my New Year’s Resolution was to cook more vegetables and reduce or eliminate added and refined sugar.
The trick in my household to success has a few parts. First, I have to make sure that the dish I’m making meets certain protein requirements. I don’t have the constitution or funds of a vegan but at the same time, eating meat constantly is a unhealthy drag. Second, I need to make dishes that keep. This is the Midwesterner in me demanding casseroles. Third, I have to make a conscious effort to get into the habit of making the veg when I have it and not assuming it will keep in my frig for a week or more (it won’t). And, finally, I want to try out new flavors.
Some things have been misses, but most have been hits. While nothing here is original to me, I do want to share these recipes because I think they’d be a boon to many.
I discovered some things while hunting for recipes. One item, when the English say ‘coriander’ they mean cilantro. My wife hates cilantro, but she never minds me using ground coriander in things. So when I made Chickpea & Coriander burgers, I substituted ground coriander for cilantro.
I am much more successful pan frying chickpeas into burgers than I am attempting to make quinoa sliders. For both of these burgers I found some flax seed bread and served them with sliced fresh mozzarella and avocado.
Chickpea Coriander Burgers
- can chickpeas, drained
- a sprinkle of lemon juice (less than a teaspoon)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- tablespoon of ground coriander
- 1 egg
- cup of breadcrumbs/Panko
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil/peanut oil
I have a small a food processor in which I put the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, and the egg. Once the mixture is a good thickness, scrape it into a bowl. In the bowl, add breadcrumbs and the diced onions. The mixture needs to chill for at least 10 minutes. Form however many patties you’d like but try to keep them uniform in thickness and width.
I use peanut oil to fry with these days because it has a high smoke point (meaning it’s damn difficult to burn peanut oil, I’m not skilled enough to fry with olive oil and not make a mess). Pour at least a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and let it get hot (every oven will vary, I don’t have an oven with a proper flame so I tend to use Medium-to-Low), which usually takes about two or three minutes. You don’t want them to burn but you want them crisp on the outside. Fry them for about four minutes on each side.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- can of chickpeas
- 1/2 cup freshly grated cheese (provolone, mozzarella)
- 1/4 cup Panko/breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 2 green onions
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons olive oil/peanut oil
Cook the quinoa with the stock. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
Chop green onions and carrots and mince the garlic, then place in a bowl with the shredded cheese and panko and mix the ingredients. I again used my mini-food processor to chop up the chickpeas. Once the chickpeas are thick, add it to the bowl. Add quinoa and and egg, mix well. I always place the mixture in the fridge for a bit (10 minutes).
I usually make my patties from flattening the ball I’ve rolled around in my palm, but you can do whatever–just make sure they are uniform.
Heat your skillet with olive or peanut oil. Once hot, put the patties in and fry until crispy (between 3-5 minutes on each side). If you’re a dolt like me, you may need to have more oil at hand and occasionally clean out the skillet of burnt debris between patties.
I hate frying. Absolutely fucking hate it, but I have to keep doing it if I’m going to be any better at it. That said, fuck frying. The money is oven baking. So I’ll end this post with a rather successful recipe.
I’ve grown to love quinoa and squash. So when I found a recipe for twice-baked butternut squash, I was rather enthusiastic. My attempt wasn’t quite pretty but it was rather good, a wonderful bit of savory. The genius of this recipe is its utter simplicity.
Twice-Baked Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash (medium or large)
- 2 shallots (small or medium)
- cup of quinoa
- 2 cups of water
- cup of gorgonzola
Preheat oven to 400˚. Slice butternut squash in half length wise. Scoop out seeds. Place each half cut side down in a 9×13 pan (or whatever size you have, I used a 9×9) and pour a cup of water (water is important, make sure it’s in your pan–don’t put the squash in the oven without it). Place in oven and bake until tender, about 45-60 minutes. Once done, remove and set aside.
Dice the shallots. In a skillet heat oil. Saute shallots until they give off a nice aroma or are translucent (in plainspeak this means 5-10 minutes). In the same skillet add quinoa and cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer at let cook until water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Essentially, just cook the quinoa and then add the sauted shallots.
With quinoa done, go back to squash and scoop out the inside. Leave some in but you’re carving out space for the quinoa. Cut side up return the squash to the pan (chuck the water, you don’t need it anymore).
The squash you scooped out you need to mix with the gorgonzola cheese. When the quinoa is done, mix it with the cheese and squash mixture. Take this mixture and fill in each half of the squash in the pan. If you’d like sprinkle some gorgonzola over the top.
Return the stuffed squash to oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and the tops begin to brown. Remove from oven, cut eat half in half, and serve.