Thursday, June 20, 2013

BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers

I am an omnivore. I have devoured what seems like an entire barnyard at a Brazilian steakhouse. In nice weather, a weekend seldom passes where's I don't fire up the grill to indulge my carnivorous cravings, but generally I'm a healthy, mostly vegetarian eater. And when it comes to vegetarian eating, I generally hate foods trying to be meat. When I make a vegetarian burger, I'm looking to celebrate and showcase the ingredients, not pretend they're something else. This veggie burger is one of the best ways I've found to indulge a craving for barbecue flavors without getting the meat sweats afterwards. I'm a sucker for barbecue and can eat insane quantities of pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, but these burgers keep me fueled and satisfied when I want to keep those carnivorous demons at bay.

The chickpeas are creamy and hearty, with the sharp red onion and fresh broccoli and carrot providing a fresh vegetal contrast to the beans. Barbecue sauce and cheese are present in just modest quantities in this recipe, but you choose wisely, their distinct flavors while come through and make these burgers burst with flavor. As is with so many veggie burgers, the texture is really the challenge here. It's important to let the burgers form a toasty crust before flipping and to do so gingerly with a spatula big enough to support the whole burger. Although it may be a bit of a challenge, hopefully this difficulty won't scare you away, because even if the burgers do fall apart in the the pan, you can just smoosh them back together and continue on your merry way. (Melting a piece of cheese on top certainly doesn't hurt either.) Fresh from the skillet, glazed with a gooey layer of cheese, these burgers are a real treat, but extras also freeze well for a quick meal later.

BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers
adapted from How Sweet Eats
makes 4 burgers

1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup broccoli or cauliflower
1 medium-sized peeled carrot, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce + more for topping
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/2-3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1. Heat a small skillet over low heat and add 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Throw in onions with a pinch of salt, stir to coat, then let cook and caramelize for 5-6 minutes. This should happen fairly quickly since they are chopped small. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the bowl of your food processor, add broccoli and carrot, pulsing until chopped very finely. Add chickpeas, sauce, honey, flour, cheese, onions, salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder. Process and pulse until completely combined but not pureed. Carefully remove from processor bowl and form into 4 burgers. If you feel that your burgers and somewhat delicate, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining olive oil. Once hot, add burgers to the skillet and cook on each side until golden brown and crispy on the outsides, about 3-4 minutes. Be gentle when flipping and removing burgers so they don’t crack or fall apart. Serve on toasted buns with additional cheddar, red onion and sauce.

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