Veggie Burger #6: Easy Garbanzo Bean Burgers – Victory!!

I have cracked it!  My previous veggie burger was delicious, but too much work.  I wanted easygarbanzobeanburgersan easier version that featured inexpensive ingredients you are likely to have in your kitchen. These got rave reviews, and took about 30 minutes prep, plus an hour to chill. If you have a food processor to chop the veggies, they would be even faster.  I used the simplest methods I could – this is a good recipe for beginners.   They freeze very well, so make a big batch and stock your freezer for a quick meal.  These would also be fine on a grill, so are a good option for the sad vegetarian at the barbecue who would like something besides the inevitable potato salad.

I still want to try more burgers, especially trying out more mushroom and nut bases, but I am proud of this one.

Easy Garbanzo Bean Burgers

Makes 18 medium burgers.  30 minutes prep, 1 hour to chill, 10 minutes to cook.

  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans and 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs (or 3 pieces whole wheat bread, preferably the old dried out pieces)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, about 1 cup mashed ( white potatoes are also okay, but the sweet potato holds it together better and gives more flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 bell pepper (any color;  I like the red for the pretty red flecks it gives the burgers)
  • 4 Tablespoons canola or olive oil.
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt,
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (you could substitute white vinegar)
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro or italian parsley.
  • optional:  1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped walnutes
  • optional:  1/2 cup frozen peas or corn

If you don’t have breadcrumbs , toast 3 slices of bread, then toss them into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until pretty fine, but not  as fine as flour.  Set aside.

Wash the sweet potato, nuke it in the microwave until soft, about 3 minutes.  Set aside, let cool.

Empty the can of garbanzo beans into the blender or food processor, including the liquid from the can.  Puree until soft.  Peel the sweet potato, toss it in, blend until mixed.

Grate the carrot, and finely chop the garlic, onion, bell pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan, then add the vegetables, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes.

Pour the bean and potato puree into the vegetables, and cook for about two minutes on medium heat, stirring.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the bean mixture, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, chopped cilantro or parsley, soy sauce, vinegar.  Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and vinegar if needed.

Optional (but delicious!): Stir in 1/2 cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup frozen peas or corn.

Cover mix and chill for 1 hour.

Put 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or plate.  Shape the mix into 18 patties, in a hamburgery shape. The mix  should be easy to work, but if is too sticky to shape easily, stir in extra breadcrumbs. If you are planning to freeze them, make the patties pretty flat – they’ll cook faster that way.  Dip both sides into the breadcrumbs, so they are nicely coated.

Heat up your frying pan again, and add about 2 Tablespoons of oil – enough to generously cover the surface of the pan.  Cook the patties over medium high heat about 2 minutes for each side, or until you have a beautiful golden brown crust.  Remove from heat onto a paper towel to absorb extra oil.

Eat right away.  I like them in a pita pocket with lettuce and tomato, and a little salsa verde.  If you have extra uncooked patties, wrap them individually and freeze.  They make a great quick meal.  If you are frying the frozen patties, do so at a slightly lower temperature and give them a longer cook time.





Veggie Burger #5: Sweet potato, lentil, & sunflower burgers

After making four different veggie burgers and reading a lot of recipes, I decided that I had learned enough to attempt my own veggie burger recipe. I identified four components that make a successful veggie burger.

The Five Habits of Highly Successful Veggie Burgers

  1.  Structural integrity.  It has to hold together when cooked.  Otherwise you are making hash, not burgers.
  2. Not too sticky, not too smooth:  If the burger mix is super sticky it is hard to work with, and the burgers stick to both your fingers and the pan. And they need a little texture when you bite into them.
  3. Moistness:  A good burger must be juicy.   It can’t be dry or too dense.  This is a common problem with store bought veggie burgers.
  4. Flavor:  the most successful burgers are filled with flavor, with savory deliciousness brightened by lighter notes.
  5. It has to have a crispy outer crust when cooked, with a soft interior.




An example of a Highly Successful Veggie Burger

Then I put it all together:

For structural integrity, I relied mainly on mashed sweet potato.  That stuff really holds together, and it has a good rich flavor.

To control stickiness, I used dried whole wheat bread crumbs, because I happened to have some on hand.They worked great. Just adjust the amount as needed.

For depth of flavor I went with ground sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and pureed lentils (they also help hold things together).

For moistness, flavor, and texture, I added a lot of minced vegetables and some red wine vinegar.  The fresh herbs, jalapeno, and greens worked especially well.

For the crispy crust, I pan fried them in olive oil on medium high heat in my trusty cast iron skillet.

We served them in pita pockets, with lettuce and tomato.  They were good with ketchup, but even better with a little plain yogurt.


Veggie Burger Verdict:  These got rave reviews for taste, and the patties were sturdy yet moist.  The best veggie burger so far, and a pita was perfect as the bread to go with it.

One big problem:  these were a lot of work to make, because they had so many components, and almost all the components had to be cooked before assembly.  I’ll be looking to see if I can simplify it.  But they’re definitely worth making, especially if you have some leftover cooked lentils or mashed potato in your refrigerator.

Want to make your own?  Here’s the recipe.


Sweet potato, lentil, and sunflower burgers


Delicious and substantial, one of these in a pita pocket makes a meal. The seeds and bean give a dense richness, the vegetables give lots of flavor.  They are sturdy enough to stand up to cooking on an outdoor grill.  There is quite a bit of chopping and prep, but these are worth the trouble, and you can multi-task a lot of it.  Make a big batch and freeze the extra. If you have leftover lentil soup or mashed potatoes, consider using up your leftovers to make these.

Makes about 12 hefty burgers.

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for saute
  • 1 medium sweet potato, steamed and mashed, about 1 1/2 cups (white mashed potatoes would also work)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, apple cider or red wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 cup fresh greens, chopped.  I used cilantro, italian parsley, and green onion.
  • 1 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs.  I used Panko – they worked great.

Simmer the lentils in about in 2 cups of water with the bay leaf, until the lentils are soft and the water is evaporated.  Once it is cool, puree in a food processor or blender.

While the lentils are cooking, get the mushrooms, celery, garlic, onion, and jalapeno evenly minced.  If you use a food processor, do not over chop – the vegetables should have a little texture.  Saute in olive oil until soft, with a little salt and pepper, about 3 minutes.  Set aside.  (If you don’t want the heat, leave out the jalapeno.)

Peel and steam one medium sized sweet potato.  When it is soft, mash it with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Grind the sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor until fine.

In a big bowl mash together all of the various components, along with the breadcrumbs.  If it is very sticky, add some extra breadcrumbs.  Taste and add salt, pepper, and vinegar if needed.  Shape into substantial patties.  You can cook them right away, or refrigerate them for later.  They also freeze well.  To freeze, wrap individual patties in plastic wrap.

When you are ready to cook them, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet and fry over medium heat.  Flip when browned.

Serve with lettuce and tomato in pita bread, with yogurt or your favorite burger condiments.

Corn and Cheese Cakes

Big savory pancakes packed with grains, vegetables, and cheese. The veggies stay moist and the grains give an interesting texture. Top with your favorite salsa.  Two of these makes a whole meal.



  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pepper – your choice of heat.  I used poblano, very mild
  • 1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen (but fresh will be better)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • canola oil
  • salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cooked grains – I used wild rice, but quinoa, brown rice, or barley would also be good
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little canola oil and briefly saute the onion, pepper, and corn for a couple of minutes.  Don’t overcook – just cook enough so that they are softened.

In a blender, combine eggs, salt, milk, oil or melted butter, ground pepper, and flour.  Blend until uniform.

Stir in the sauteed veggies, cheese, and cooked grains.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy frying pan or griddle.  Put enough batter on the pan to make big pancakes, about 5″ diameter, making sure to get some of the veggies and grain into each.

Flip when the edges are dry and the bottom is browned, in traditional pancake fashion, about three minutes on medium heat.

Brown the other side, then serve with a topping of your favorite salsa.

Serves 4-6 people.



High Rise Whole Wheat

high rise biscuits 062215

Okay, I love whole wheat.  It has a great nutty taste when fresh, and you can feel virtuous and healthy when eating it.  Whole wheat is good for you,.  But it is not so easy to bake with, often giving flat, dense, uninspiring results.  So out of frustration, I haven’t used it much, or just in small quantities.

But in the latest issue of Cooks Magazine (July/August 2015) there is a great recipe for 100 percent whole wheat pancakes.  You ignore all the conventional pancake rules (beat as little as possible) and beat them ’til you can beat no more.  You end up with light, fluffy,  pancakes.

The author explains that this works because of how gluten behaves in the the two flours.  In white flour, there is a high percentage of gluten, which quickly forms a network of strands.  The more you mix and knead it, the more the strands develop.  That’s why we knead bread – to get a nice, dense structure.  But in pancakes, we don’t want that dense structure – it tightens everything up, giving you a flat, dense pancake instead of a light fluffy one.  So over-mixing pancake batter is a cardinal sin, giving you sad, tough little bready discs.

But in whole wheat, there is a lower percentage of gluten, so that  gluten structure takes longer to develop.  In addition, the bran in the whole wheat cuts through the gluten structure that does form.  So with whole wheat, lots of beating doesn’t hurt the rise when cooked – in fact, it improves it, because you get more air trapped in the batter.

So I made these well beaten whole wheat pancakes, and the results were amazing and delicious, light and fluffy, with a great nutty flavor. I was astounded. Then I started thinking about my biscuit dilemma.   I am not good at making biscuits. Any kind of biscuit.  A good biscuit is light and joyful, like those biscuits could just carry you off to biscuit heaven at any moment.  My biscuits are earthbound, tough and sullen.  And my whole wheat biscuits are even worse.  My whole wheat biscuits are lumpy and rocklike, the trolls of the baked goods world.

But maybe I could change all that if I treated them like the pancakes?  Maybe they just needed more beating, more mixing.  Maybe they were just feeling neglected?  I decided to give it a shot. The only big issue was the butter, which needs to stay cold to give you a nice flake.  I decided to try kneading it in at the end.  I adapted a simple rolled biscuit recipe from Joy of Cooking, replaced the white flour with whole wheat, mixed and kneaded it thoroughly, used my mother’s trick of folding it over to help it flake and rise (thanks Mom!), cut out the biscuits, and popped them in the oven.

I  ended up with a batch of tall, flaky, and tender whole wheat biscuits.  The taste of the wheat was distinct, nutty and slightly sweet.  These were the first successful whole wheat biscuits I have ever made! Thank you for the inspiration, Cooks Magazine! My biscuits have been rescued from trolldom!

We gobbled them up with dollops of jam. They would also be great as a base for strawberry shortcake, with a bit of sugar in the dough. I am considering cutting some of the butter next time – they were delicious, but almost too flaky and tender.  Here’s the recipe:

High Rise Whole Wheat Biscuits

Use fresh whole wheat flour, not the stuff in the back of your cupboard – it gets rancid and you lose the nutty, slightly sweet flavor of the wheat. This recipe gives you a flaky, buttery biscuit.  If you want it less flaky, try cutting the butter smaller and knead it in more.

4 Tbs cold butter
2 cups whole wheat flour – fresh as possible
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk plus 1 Tbs for brushing biscuit tops

1. With a knife or pastry cutter chop the butter into small chunks.  Add 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, and chop some more, until you have a fairly uniform mixture of ball bearing size chunks.  Put in freezer for at least 10 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and baking powder until will dispersed.

4. Add 1 cup of milk. Whisk vigorously until too sticky to whisk.

5. Use some of final 1/4 cup flour to flour board and hands, and knead until dough is no longer sticky and wants to stay together, about 5 minutes of kneading.

6. Use that last bit of flour to flour rolling pin, then roll dough out in rectangle.

7. Remove butter mixture from freezer.  From this point try to work quickly, so that butter stays cold.  Spread butter mixture evenly over the dough.

8. Fold dough over the butter, then knead in to spread it around.  Just five or so kneads will do it. Mush any large chunks of butter, but it’s okay if there are small chunks – it helps make the biscuits flaky.

9. Use last little bit of flour on board and rolling pin and roll out again, to about 1/4 inch thick.  Fold over once and roll it out gently once more, to stick it all together.  Dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.

10. Cut out biscuits.  You can use a biscuit cutter or glass, but I think a rolling pastry cutter or pizza cutter works even better, as long as you don’t object to rectangular biscuits.  It doesn’t pinch the edges down, and I think that gives a better rise in the oven.

11. Place on ungreased baking sheet, brush tops with milk.

12. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, or until browned.

Yield: 12-16 biscuits

Oven Temperature: 450°F

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Swiss Chard with chick peas and coconut milk

I bought a beautiful bunch of swiss chard at the farmers market (see previous post), and realized I didn’t know how to cook it.  I associate it with bitter well-cooked greens that my grandfather used to try to make me eat.  I came up with this simple dish that changed my attitude.  It’s so simple I almost didn’t bother to write it down, but everyone who ate it agreed it deserves a recipe.  I served it over polenta – delicious, fast and easy.

Swiss Chard with garbanzo beans and coconut milk

The coconut milk smooths out the slightly bitter flavor of the swiss chard., but doesn’t drown it out.  You can substitute spinach or other greens for the swiss chard.  If you use spinach, reduce the cooking time.  Try serving it with polenta – you can cook the polenta in the time it takes to prepare this dish.

1 large bunch swiss chard
1 onion chopped
1 can, 8 oz garbanzo beans or 1 1/2 cups, cooked
1 can, 8 oz coconut milk
1 Tbs thai chili paste
1 Tbs canola oil (or other low saturated fat oil)

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan or wok.

2. Add the chopped onions, cook until clear and soft, about 3 -5 minutes.

3. Add the chili paste and garbanzo beans, cook briefly on medium heat, stirring constantly.

4. Rinse the swiss chard thoroughly, remove coarse stems, then chop into bite sized chunks.

5. Add the chard to the pan, cook stirring frequently, until the chard is bright green and tender enough to easily chew, about 3 minutes.

6. Reduce heat to medium low, add the coconut milk.  Cook stirring constantly until it is heated and the flavors have a chance to meld, about two minutes.

Servings: 6

Total Time: 15 minutes

Author: Janet Gastil
Source: Gastil Family Cooking Class

Butternut Squash Risotto

This dish wasn’t an official part of our cooking school, just me messing around in the kitchen, ad libbing.  It came out so well I’m posting it here.  It’s a really pretty golden color, but by the time I got my camera out every scrap was already consumed.  We had it as a main dish, but it would work well as a side dish in smaller servings.

Butternut Squash Risotto

A delicious and golden yellow risotto, great for a chilly day.  You could substitute pumpkin or other winter squash.  When I made it, I didn’t actually measure anything, so the amounts are approximate.  It’s a forgiving dish, so don’t worry too much about getting them exact.

1 butternut squash, medium sized, or 2 1/2 cups puree
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh sage, crushed
3/4 cup white wine
cayenne pepper to taste
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup swiss cheese, cut into chunks
vegetable broth or water

1. Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the guts and seeds.  Brush cut surface with olive oil, then place face down on a baking sheet.  Bake in oven at 350 F until the inside is very tender and soft, about 30 minutes.  Let cool until easy to handle.

2. Scoop out insides of squash and puree in blender or food processor.  If it is too thick to easily puree, add a little water.  Set aside.

3. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large heavy skillet.  Add onion, cook until soft.

4. Add garlic, sage, salt and peppers.  Cook a couple of minutes.

5. Add the arborio rice, stir until well coated with the oil and onion mixture.

6. Add white wine, cook at medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is gone,

7. Add the squash puree and 1/2 cup of water or broth.  Stir constantly and cook until liquid is gone.

8. Keep gradually adding liquid and stirring until it is absorbed or evaporates, about 1/2 cup at a time.  As the rice cooks it will swell and form a thick broth with the squash puree.  Do this until the rice is almost completely cooked, about 30 minutes.

9. When the rice is almost completely cooked, add the swiss cheese along with the last batch of liquid.  Stir until the cheese is melted and the rice cooked.  If you want a lot of broth, remove from heat while still liquidy.  If you want less broth, cook until liquid is almost completely absorbed.

10. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Let sit 5 – 10 minutes, then enjoy.

Servings: 6

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Make sure you use a big enough cooking pan – the rice will double in size.