It's easy to get stuck in a rut with a particular ingredient, and I wasn't moving beyond chia pudding. Thankfully I received a couple of cookbooks in the mail from the publisher Sterling for potential review, (full disclosure, I'm not being compensated or required to review any of Sterling's books - I honestly really liked this one!) and Dr. Wayne Coates' Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood caught my eye.
Frozen and even "homemade" restaurant burgers often contain cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and processed texturizers like soy protein and wheat gluten, which help create a "meaty" texture but also add fillers that many of us are trying to avoid. Chia allows the veggies and beans in this burger to hold together without eggs, fat, or other binders, and the recipe is completely adaptable to leftover vegetables and pantry spices that you might have on hand. Its texture is more like a light vegetable fritter than a beef patty, and the flavor is delicious. As for eggs, I tried adding them as a binder, and the burgers came out dry, so you really don't need or want them.
For 4 burgers, you will need:
1 15-ounce can beans, rinsed and drained (You can use black beans, red kidney beans, cannellinis, chickpeas, cooked lentils, or a mix.)
1/4 cup chia gel (Mix 2 teaspoons of chia seeds with 4 tablespoons of water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes for the gel to set.)
1 medium clove of garlic, minced, about 1 teaspoon.
1/4 cup sauteed vegetables (I used a mix of frozen, defrosted corn and chopped scallions. You want to cook the veggies to remove excess water. I sauteed them for 3 minutes in olive oil, then added the garlic for another minute or so.)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder. (Chipotle is a dried, smoked jalapeno with a medium spice and delicious flavor.)
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Optional: 1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil (for a sweeter taste) or olive oil (for a more neutral taste)
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse all the ingredients EXCEPT the oil until well-integrated, but not liquefied. You want a thick, chunky paste.
Form the mixture into round patties about 1/2 inch thick and 3 1/2 inches across.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Cook the patties about 2 minutes per side, until dark golden brown. Flip them carefully, as they're rather delicate. It helps to have a spatula with a thin blade.
Serve on hamburger rolls with the condiments of your choice, or with brown rice and a salad.
Other flavor combinations:
Italian: Cannellini beans, parsley, olive oil, rosemary, sauteed, fire-roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, and garlic.
North African: Garbanzos, cumin, smoked paprika, sauteed carrots, lemon zest, garlic, and cilantro. Serve with harissa, plain yogurt, and chopped cucumbers.
Indian: Lightly toast cumin seeds and mustard seeds in touch of oil. Add tumeric, red onion, minced ginger, red bell pepper, and cilantro and saute on medium for 3 minutes before processing with the beans. Serve with chutneys and plain yogurt mixed with garlic, chopped mint leaves, and salt.