Bean burgers Part 2

In which I try out a Chickpea Burger recipe…

When it comes to bean burger success, the texture of the cooked beans is critical.  You can’t make burgers with beans that are too firm.  Case in point: this recipe for chickpea burgers.  Canned chickpeas are very dense and chewy compared to other beans like kidney or pinto, so they won’t mash up easily.  A burger made with chunky chickpeas isn’t going to hold together very well.  As it turns out, I was right, but I think a different preparation technique would have made a difference.

First let’s look at the ingredients for this Middle Eastern Chickpea burger recipe from the same Fine Cooking feature as the recipe I discussed previously.

  • 2+ TB olive oil, as needed
  • 3 oz (or 3 cups) fresh baby spinach.  I used regular spinach leaves, stems removed.  After cooking, it reduced to about 1/2 cup of cooked spinach.  You could make life easier by substituting 1/2 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach, drained.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 1/2 cup cracked freekeh.  Well, couldn’t find freekeh, not even in the local natural foods grocery store.  I could have used up some of the farro I bought for the first recipe, but I decided to try using bulgur wheat instead.  I think either of those choices would be fine, and bulgur wheat is much easier to find in your average grocery store.
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds.  Nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t have any around, so I used the pine nuts I had leftover from the first bean burger recipe.  I don’t know that any other nuts could be substituted without changing the flavor.  Walnuts are the only other option that might work.
  • 2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • canola oil for the pan

onions and bulgur

If you’re using fresh spinach, sauté it briefly in a hot pan, about 2 minutes so it’s wilted.  Drain of any excess water, and chop roughly.  Put in a large mixing bowl.

The next step is to sauté the onion in olive oil, then add the garlic and grain, in this case bulgur wheat.  Add the broth, cover and simmer until grains are cooked, about 15 minutes.  While that’s cooking you can zest the lemon, drain the chickpeas chop the nuts and parsley and measure out the panko and seasonings.

When the onion-grain mixture is done cooking, put everything in a large mixing bowl.  Now it’s the true test for this recipe: will these ingredients mash together properly.  Answer: no.  I could have predicted this and saved a bit of mess.  The chickpeas would not mash.  In fact, the potato masher I used basically let every chickpea escape whole.  What to do?  Food processor to the rescue!

Well this isn’t working.

The food processor made quick work of blending the ingredients, but you have to be careful you don’t puree everything into a paste.  I pulsed the ingredients in 4 batches, just 3-4 pulses at 1-3 seconds each.  It was still a bit chunky, but the chickpeas were not pulverized.  After that’s done, add one beaten egg.  Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When you’re ready to cook, divide the batter into 8 equal balls and pat each into a 3-inch patty.  Cook over medium heat on both sides to brown.  Serve on buns.  The recipe suggests topping with tzatziki sauce, which would be nice.  You can also use fresh tomatoes, avocados, cucumber slices, red onion, roasted peppers or even hummus.

Hummus might have helped by holding the burgers together.  Despite using the food processor, these bean burgers were still dry and crumbly compared to the White Bean Burger recipe.  I think if I ever made these again I’d use 2 eggs.  It’s also possible the chewier and plumper farro grains would hold the burgers together more.  In fact I found another chickpea burger recipe from several years ago that did use a food processor.  The batter included olive oil and tahini, high fat ingredients that would help hold everything together, although might result in a much stickier burger patty.  Adding 2-4 tablespoons of tahini to this recipe might have helped.  Back to the drawing board on chickpea burgers.

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