Saturday, July 14, 2012

Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers

On Mondays, I try to make only Vegan food.  It's more than "meatless mondays".  There is no dairy, eggs or any animal by-product.  This past week, I decided to make Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers (link takes you to a condensed version of the recipe) out of my Vegan Diner cookbook by Julie Hasson.

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers

Looks good, doesn't it?  And your probably wouldn't guess it wasn't meat from this picture either.  I served it with a side of lentil chips.  They were light and crispy and not dry like rice cakes.

Don't fear the healthier snacks.

For more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – Well there's a lot of prep that includes washing and mincing herbs (admittedly this process has gotten easier with the purchase of my salad spinner), but you also have to make rice.  Rice can be a starchy mess which can be fun to clean out of pans and strainers.  There is quite a bit of equipment to this recipe including pulling out your trusty food processor.  I love mine, but it is a pain to clean.  Rehydrating the TVP and then moving it to the bowl can be a bit messy and don't forget you have to mix the "burger" blend with your hands and form patties.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND AN HOUR AND A HALF – If will be less if you're using leftover rice and there is 30 minutes of bake time, but this isn't something that you can whip up in a jiffy for a spontaneous meal.

Servings: I got 7 decent-sized patties out of this recipes just as the recipe writer stated.  A serving of the Lentil chips was approximately 1 ounce, so I measured it out exactly.  The toppings are vegetables and are gimmes for the most part, but if you add any condiments (there are plenty of vegan options out there) you definitely affect the nutritional value of this dish.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – You don't have to worry about finely chopping the vegetables because you're going to run them through the food processor, yet you still have to do it.  I bought my mushrooms pre-sliced and my hazelnuts pre-chopped, so if you have to do either, especially slicing mushrooms, you should anticipate this to be a LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE.

Ease of Recipe: MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – There were a lot of components to this recipe -  making rice and rehydrating the TVP, along with prepping the ingredients - that took much longer than I anticipated for this recipe.  You're going to have to make a special trip to the health food store as well to get some of the ingredients.

OverallNOT BAD – Not a perfect swap for burgers, but it is a nice sandwich.  My husband liked it more than I did.  I thought it was a little bland at first, but added some spicy brown mustard and really enjoyed the remainder of my sandwich.

Nutritional Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!
These numbers are only for the burger.  It does not include condiments, toppings or the bun:
  • Calories: 316.6
  • Total Fat: 12.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.2g
  • Polyunsaturated: Fat 1.7g
  • Monounsaturated: Fat 8.9g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 325.3mg
  • Potassium: 282.3mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 37.1g
  • Fiber: 6.9g
  • Sugars: 3.5g
  • Protein: 15.2g 
The numbers of calories is in the moderate range, just make sure you take care when selecting your bun.  While the amount of fat seems high, you should take not that the majority of that number comes from healthy fats which your body needs to function.  Be careful when selecting sides since the sodium level of this burger (and many vegan meals) is slightly higher than some of your non-vegan meals.


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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - ingredients
Some of the ingredients may be a little hard to find.  I got mine from a well-stocked health food store, but if you don't have one close to you, there are plenty of great places to buy some of these ingredients on-line.  Bob's Red Mill is one of my favorites.  Complete disclosure, I've never ordered from his website, but I buy his products whenever I find them in the store.  I'd completely trust ordering from here. 

1 cup dried TVP or TSP granules
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
8 ounces portobella mushrooms, pre-sliced
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, skinned and lightly toasted
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup freshly minced parsley
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hamburger buns, for serving
Lettuce or salad greens, for serving
Sliced tomato, for serving
Sliced onion, for serving
Fit Wash
Cooking Spray

TVP - Texturized Vegetable Protein is your meat substitute for this dish and is made out of reduced-fat soy beans.  You can find it in bulk at most health food stores or buy it in larger packages from places like Bob’s Red Mill.

Portobella Mushrooms - The original recipe uses cremini mushrooms, but I couldn't find them.  Portobella mushrooms are very similar if not slightly more favorable.  I also bought pre-sliced to save myself a little time.

Yellow Onion - Here's an interesting side note from Cook's Thesaurus: Yellow onions are high in sulfur which is what makes you cry.  I had no idea!

Brown Rice - The original recipe has "cooked" rice in the ingredients.  I decided to make it part of the recipe since I bought it in bulk.  However, if you have a cup of leftover short grain brown rice, you won't need to make more and it will save you about 25-30 minutes (if you make it during prepping the other ingredients).

Hazelnuts – I actually have a problem finding hazelnuts in the grocery store.  Sometimes they have them and sometimes they don’t.  This time, I found them in the baking section already skinned and chopped.  I decided to forgo the toasting part because I was being lazy.

Vital Wheat Gluten – the natural protein found in wheat that contains a significant amount of protein.  You’re probably guessing that it is used in bread… which it is.  However, it is also used to make a meat substitute.

Chickpea Flour – This flour is also known as Garbanzo Bean Flour.  In fact, I’ve had yet to find a “chickpea flour” so I’d look for Garbanzo Bean first.

Hamburger Buns – I made my own from the same vegan cookbook.  Don’t know if your favorite is vegan?  Read the label – there can be no dairy in it including eggs, milk or butter.

Lettuce and Onion – There is no specific type of lettuce or onion to use, so I went with a Romaine since I had a head of it, and a white onion.

Fit Wash – You don’t need this to clean your vegetables and herbs, but I like using it.  Especially since my parsley was a little grimy – it just made me feel better.

Cooking Spray – If you’re using parchment paper (like I did) you’re going to need to grease it as per the directions.  This is the most efficient way to do that.


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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - equipment
Cutting Board
Sharp Knife
Garlic Press
Rice Cooker / Saucepan with Wooden Spoon and Fork
Salad Spinner
Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper / Silicone Mat
Small Saucepan with Lid
Large Spoon
Large Skillet
Food Processor
Large Mixing Bowl
Flexible Spatula

Rice Cooker / Saucepan with Wooden Spoon and Fork – whatever your preferred method of cooking rice is what you should use.  Ordinarily, I stick with my rice cooker, but in this case, I used the traditional method of making my rice.  Why?  Because I have never made short-grain brown rice before.

Mini-Chop – If you need to chop nuts, this will be the quickest way to chop them.  You can use an electric one like I do (although mine’s about to die) or there are hand choppers that you plunge the blades on top of the food (think Slap Chop).  Yes, you can also do it with a sharp knife, but as a victim of many knife mishaps, I’d definitely recommend against it.

Salad Spinner – You don’t need one of these to clean your herbs, but I’ve found it is the best way to get the water off of them quickly.  In fact, I use it more for herbs than salad!

Parchment Paper / Silicone Mat – I’ve always used parchment paper and thought I’d try a silicone mat this time.  Imagine my shock when the only one they had in stock was $20!  Parchment paper works just fine for now.

(1) Prior to prepping the ingredients, make the rice:
(a) Put the brown rice and 1-1/2 cups of water in a pot with a lid.
(b) Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.
(c) Turn down the heat (medium to medium-low) and simmer the rice for 20 minutes.
(d) Remove from the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes.
(2) Meanwhile, prep the rest of the ingredients. Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper. 

(3) In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil.

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - Rehydrated TVP
(4) Remove from the heat, stir in the TVP and cover with a lid. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the TVP has absorbed all of the water. Set the rehydrated TVP aside to cool completely.
Stir quickly!  The TVP absorbs water fast and you don’t want dry patches.

(5) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. 

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - sauteed mushrooms
(6) Add the mushrooms and saute for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
The original recipe stated 5 minutes but it took a little longer for me.  Once the rice was done, I removed the lid and let it cool while I finished some of the other things in the recipe.

(7) In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the onion, garlic and cooled mushrooms and pulse until finely chopped, approximately 20 times

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - chopped mixture
(8) Add the cooled and drained TVP mixture, along with the cooked rice and hazelnuts and pulse again until finely chopped, again, approximately 20 times. Don't puree the mixture. 

(9) Remove the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the vital wheat gluten, flour, parsley, chickpea flour, salt and pepper, mixing until combined. You may want to use your hands, but don't overwork.
You may WANT to use your hands?  I couldn’t figure out any other way to do it!  The great news is that unlike meat mixtures or meatloaf mixtures, there’s no raw meat or eggs to get all over your hands.  Yes, you’ll have to wash your hands afterwards, but nothing on them will cross contaminate anything else.
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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - formed patties
(10) Form into 7 balls and flatten each one into 3-1/2 to 4-inch burgers. 

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Brown Rice Hazelnut Burgers - beautifully cooked burgers
(11) Place the burgers on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. 

(12) Flip the burgers over and bake for another 15 minutes on the other side.
Be very careful when flipping the burgers.  While they are starting to hold their form better, they still can break apart.  I used a solid and thick spatula to do the flipping.
(13) Serve the burgers on a bun with all the fixings: lettuce, tomato and onion. 

I’m embarrassed to admit that I never tried pulsing regular hamburger blends in the food processor because it worked FABULOUSLY.  Even if I didn’t include the meat in there, it created a great vegetable blend that would be easily mixed with any kind of mushroom or meat blend.

If I were going to make any changes:
  • I would keep the portobella mushrooms because these burgers really needed the extra flavor.
  • I would make the stone ground mustard a permanent condiment.  It really punched the flavor of the sandwich up.
I’m currently looking for another vegan cookbook.  If anyone has any ideas, please let me know them in the comments!

Until next time… happy cooking!

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