Veggies on the counter

Beetroot and Brown Rice Burgers

Posted in main courses by veggies on the counter on January 21, 2011

I have bookmarked Louisa Shafia’s Beet Burgers a long time ago, and never really got the chance to make them. The other day, while flipping through my notebook, I found the said recipe, that I’ve spotted on her blog and immediately did a quick annotation of the ingredients list to make it. But then, some other plans have crossed my mind and the recipe remained written, but untested. So, this week, having a couple of extra-large beetroot sitting on the fridge, I finally gave Louisa’s burgers a try. And after bitting into one of them, I kept asking myself why haven’t I made the burgers sooner – not only they have the perfect texture and right consistency, but are also packed with flavor. In one word: delicious.

Now, I know there’s a lot of you out there who don’t like beetroot. Some of you, might even hate the poor vegetable. But even with beetroot haters like my mum, the burgers were a huge hit. Now that I think about it I realize they actually don’t taste to beetroot that much – the addition of nuts, caramelized onion, and some spices, not only gives them texture and crunch, but also a delicious, kind of  hearty taste, that somehow balances out the natural sweetness of the beetroot. I’ve made a couple tweaks to the original recipe though: substituted the walnuts called for in the original version for a mix of nuts and seeds, and instead of baking the burgers and searing them as suggested, I managed to save some time up by pan-frying them straight away without sacrificing texture – in the end, you still get a well-cooked inside and crunchy outside, the basic requirements for a perfect burger. I’m sure I’ll be making these again, and maybe next time, experimenting with different grains - substituing the brown rice for millet, for example.

Beetroot and Brown Rice Burgers

(makes 6 burgers)

1/4 cup of EACH: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and cashew nuts

2 cups grated beetroot (from approximately 1 large beetroot)

1 1/2 cups COOKED brown rice

1 large white onion, sliced into rings

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoons ground cumin

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoons salt

1. After grating the beetroot, place them in a colander and squeeze out all the liquid. Discard the liquid and set aside. Alternatively, you can use the liquid - like I did - to make a juice and/or a smoothie.

2. Heat a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook, stirring often, for at least 10 minutes, or until the onion starts browning and caramelizing. While the onion is cooking, add the paprika and ground cumin to the pan, as well as a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

3. In a large food processor, add the cooked rice, 1 cup of the grated beetroot and 1 teaspoon of salt, and process for about 2 minutes, or until it has the consistency of a thick puree. This will work as a binder.

4. Add the cooked onion and all the different nuts and seeds to the food processor and pulse no more than 3 times. You want the burgers to have some texture and crunch, so this mixture only needs to be broken down a bit.

5. Add the puree to the remaining 1 cup of grated beetroot and mix well until incorporated. Have  a taste and salt a bit more, if needed be. The mixture should be thick and easy enough to handle and shape into patties.

6. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions. With your hands, form round patties that are about 8 centimeters in diameter and 1 centimeter thick. At this point, you can keep the burgers refrigerated for 2 to 3 days and cook them within that time.

7. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the burgers. Pan-fry them for at least 6 minutes on each side, turning them only once.

8. Serve the burgers right after cooking with your favorite fixings. I’ve topped mine with chutney and lots of fresh parsley.

adapted from Lucid Food

Smoked Tofu and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

Posted in sandwiches by veggies on the counter on August 11, 2010

This is one of my favorite sandwiches. It calls for only a few ingredients, but they work so well together that you don’t need anything else. A crispy baguette is filled with caramelized onion (whose sweet flavor is brightened by the addition of balsamic vinegar), slightly grilled smoked tofu and a few sprigs of thyme. That’s it. This is actually a very straight-forward recipe, and I bet that if you serve it to non-vegetarian friends, they will certainly enjoy it. The smoked tofu I used in here is quite mild, and I recommend you to use a mildish one too, as to complement perfectly the flavor of the caramelized onion. I feel that smoked tofu, once cooked (particularly grilled), looses quite a lot of its flavor and can also get a bit dryish, so the key in here is to grill it just long enough to heat it through.

Smoked Tofu and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

(for one sandwich)

1 medium size baguette

100 grams smoked tofu, cut into 0,5 cm thick slabs

1 large (200 grams) onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings or strips

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablepsoon balsamic vinegar

a pinch of salt

a few thyme sprigs, for garnish

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion rings and a pinch of salt and cook for 10/15 minutes, or until the onion has soften and browned a bit.

2. When the onion has browned, lower the heat to the minimum and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir and cook uncovered for additional 3 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced a bit and the onion is deeply caramelized.

3.  At the same time the onion is cooking, heat a grilling pan over medium-high heat, add the tofu slabs, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. When  done, transfer the tofu to a plate, but do not turn off the heat yet.

4. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise. Place the halves, cut side down, in the same grilling pan in which the tofu has cooked, and toast for 4 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and crisp around the edges.

5. Transfer the baguette slices to a plate and spread the cooked onion over one of the slices, followed by the tofu slabs, 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme, and the remaining slice. Serve immediately.

Beetroot, White Onion and Broad Bean Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on August 10, 2010

This simple salad was what I had for lunch today. It’s really dead easy to put together and delicious. It’s inspired by a recipe from Moro East , although I’ve made some tweaks to it according to what I had on hand and also to make it my own. The original recipe calls for tarragon, but as I didn’t have tarragon on hand and was too lazy to go out to buy some, I used dill. This herb goes really well with the beans and beetroot, but feel free to substitute for any other you may like: I bet parsley or even mint would work great in here also. I know it takes a great amount of time to cook the beetroot, but I think it’s well worth the effort as the taste of freshly cooked beetroot is way much better than that of already cooked ones, the kind that are usually sold in tins. On the other hand, you can just cook more beetroot than you need for this specific recipe, and then store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for up to a week, and you’re set for the next time you want to throw them in a salad or any other preparation.

I served the salad with some very simple grilled tofu slabs (I just brushed each slab with olive oil, added a bit of sea salt and grilled it), and it made a very filling, protein-packed meal. More and more often I’ve been cooking meals like this, that are simple and unfussy and yet delicious. I think Moro East is the cookbook to get started with if you want to go that way: from soups to salads and vegetable dishes, there’s a wide range of recipes, mostly Eastern mediterranean inspired that, not being time consuming and only calling for a few ingredients, will for sure please your taste buds. Also, I particularly like the photography in the book: it’s straight-forward and with very few styling, really focusing on the food and its natural beauty.

Beetroot, White Onion and Broad Bean Salad

(serves 4, as a side)

300 grams podded broad beans

450 grams beetroot (the smaller the better)

1 medium sized white onion, peeled and  thinly sliced

20 grams (a bunch) dill, chopped

for the dressing:

a pinch of salt and pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1. In a large pot, add the beetroot and about 3 liters of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the beetroot are tender – this might take about 1-2 hours. Once the beetroot are cooked, transfer them to a large bowl filled with cold water and peel them. Then, slice the beetroot into quarters, and then each quarter into 2 equal wedges. Set aside.

2. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a medium size bowl. Then season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the sliced onion to the bowl and toss well, so that every piece of onion is coated with the dressing. Cover the bowl with cling film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes - this will help the onion to soften and to get a sweeter taste.

3.  Add the broad beans and plenty of unsalted water to a medium size pot. Bring to a boil, and cook  for about 20 minutes, or until the broad beans are tender. Drain the beans, wash them under cold water, drain again, and set aside.

4. In a large plate combine the beetroot, broad beans, onion, dill and the dressing. Toss everything together and serve immediately.

recipe inspired by Moro East, published by Ebury Press

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Quinoa Salad

Posted in main courses, salads by veggies on the counter on July 22, 2010

If you’re already disappointed to see another salad showing up here, I can only arguee that, being a big salad eater, I can’t help myself but posting salad recipes, as they are a very important component of my everyday eating. I know this might sound like common sense, in the way that most of the people I know think that vegans and vegetarians live on salads. But, as we all know, the word salad isn’t necessarily a synonym for lettuce leaves and raw tomatoes tossed with a boring dressing mostly made out of olive oil and vinegar (at this point I think I’m more describing the classic portuguese salads served on restaurants and cafés rather than anything else, although the criticizable protuguese way of making and serving salads would make an interily new post, and I’ll leave it for another occasion).

Salads, at least for me, when balanced in nutrional terms, make wonderful main courses. This quinoa salad is one of those all-in-all meals: you have the grain (quinoa), veggies (carrots cucumbers and caramelized onions) and a source of protein (grilled tofu), all tossed with a (I promise) not-so-boring brown rice vinegar and ginger dressing. It’s the kind of food I usually have for lunch (and dinner, if I happen to have some leftovers). Well, it’s actually my kind of food. If you give it a try, I hope you like it as much as I do.


(serves 3)

¾ cup quinoa
2 x ¾ cup water (approximately 300 ml)
3 medium-size carrots, peeled and cutted into thin rounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1cm thick rounds
250 gr tofu, cutted into slabs
2 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

for the dressing:
4 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed ginger juic

1. Start by cooking the quinoa: bring a pot with the water to a boil and add the grains. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until all the water is evaporated. Add a pinch of sea salt (about ¼ teaspoon) and a drizzle of olive oil when it’s done.

2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, a pinch of salt, and let it cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pan, for at least 10 minutes, or until deeply caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. In the same pan in which you cooked the onion, add the carrots. At this point, you don’t need to add more oil. Cook the carrots for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until they get crispy and toasted. You might want to do this in several batches, in order not to overcrowd the pan and to have the slices evenly cooked. When they’re done, transfer them to another bowl and set aside.

4. Brush the tofu slabs with olive oil. Place them in a hot grilling pan, and grill for about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and toss with the tamari.

5. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well.

6. Transfer the quinoa, onion, carrots and diced cucumber to a large bowl and toss with the dressing.

7. To serve, divide the salad into 3 deep plates and pile the tofu atop salad on each plate. Sprinkle with chopped coriander.


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