One inquisitive omnivore’s journey towards healthier and more compassionate eating…

(Click here for why I started)

(CELEBRITIES/VEGETARIAN RECIPES) Gracie Gold is Sochi’s “It Girl” of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

She’s being touted as America’s best hope for a medal in the women’s “short form” competition and last week helped Team USA win the bronze in women’s free skate. Now the pressure’s on for the 18-year-old to do it again—preferably in gold or silver. 

As far as I’m concerned, she’s already a winner, and so is the veggie burger she inspired me to make.

U.S. figure-skating champion Gracie Gold gives it her all in the women's short form program at the 2014 Winter Olympic.  Games./Photo credit: AP, Darron Cummings
U.S. figure-skating champion Gracie Gold gives it her all in the women’s short form program at the 2014 Winter Olympic. Games. Photo credit: AP, Darron Cummings

In last week’s blog, I teased you with Gold’s chickpea, beets, and quinoa burger concoction she told NBC Olympics about. It sounded so delicious and healthy, I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.

I managed to find an Olympian-worthy recipe from The Bojon Gourmet. I have to say it’s a little intimidating compared to the simple recipes I usually lean towards. But being in that Olympic-state-of-mind, I accepted the challenge.

Chickpeas, Beets & Quinoa Burger

(serves 6/166 calories each, no bun/6 g protein)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked 8 hours or over night (or one 14 ounce can of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 bay leaf (only needed if you don’t use canned chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup raw quinoa
  • salt
  • 3 medium-sized red beets (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • zest from 1/2 a medium lemon
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup quick (baby) oats
  • olive oil spray
  • 6 whole wheat buns

Cooking Directions

Beans:

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are the perfect vegetarian-friendly source of protein, containing 15g per cup. Also low in fat, high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals, they're a perfect staple for any diet./Photo credit: Lisa Singer
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are the perfect vegetarian-friendly source of protein, containing 15g per cup—a perfect staple for any diet. Photo credit: Lisa Singer

I used canned chickpeas, so I just microwaved them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for three minutes, and then set aside for later.

For dried chickpeas, drain the soaked chickpeas and place in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf. Cover with three inches of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered until the beans are almost tender. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking until the beans are very tender, about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size and age of the beans. Add water to the pan as needed. When the beans are done, let them cool in their water until needed.

Quinoa:

Soak the quinoa in very fine strainer submerged in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes, this rinses off the bitter coating (coffee filters also work in a pinch if, like me, you don’t have a strainer with holes small enough to hold the quinoa—it’s a little messier and takes a few filters, but it did the trick).

Drain the quinoa and put in a small saucepan with one cup of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Let the quinoa steam until tender and all the water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit covered until needed.

Vegetables:

Peel the beets with a potato peeler, then grate using the large holes of a box grater (this gets pretty messy, so you might want to wear some old clothes). Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, grated beets, and a pinch of salt. Stir together, then cover pan. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until beets are tender, about five minutes. Remove from heat and deglaze by adding the vinegar and stirring up any remains stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Chickpeas, beets and quinoa mash together for a nutrient-packed burger loaded with vitamins, fiber, protein and is even a bit of an aphrodisiac thanks to the boron in the beets./Photo credit: Lisa Singer
Chickpeas, beets and quinoa mash together for a nutrient-packed burger loaded with vitamins, fiber, protein and even a possible aphrodisiac thanks to the boron in the beets. Photo credit: Lisa Singer

In a large bowl, combine the cooked chickpeas, quinoa and beet mixture, and mash together with a potato masher. The beans will break up slightly, but the mixture should still be fairly chunky. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest and juice, egg, uncooked oats, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Two hours and a very sleepy guest later (even ravenous Monty gave up)…the burgers are ready for cooking!

Two hours later and still no veggie burgers. If serving this labor-intensive, but delicious chickpea, beet & quinoa burger recipe, be sure to have plenty of snacks for your guests or better yet, prepare them ahead of time./Photo credit: Lisa Singer
Two hours and still no veggie burgers. If serving this labor-intensive, but delicious chickpea, beet & quinoa burger recipe, be sure to have plenty of snacks for your guests or better yet, prepare them ahead of time. Photo credit: Lisa Singer

Divide the mixture into six equal portions, shaping into one-inch-thick rounds. Spray sauté pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Add the burger patties, cooking until the first side is golden, 2-3 minutes. Then flip and cook on the second side until it’s golden and the burger is cooked through, another 2-3 minutes (if the mixture doesn’t stick well together, try adding another egg and/or more oats).

Place burger on a bun and top with your favorite garnish. I added spinach and a little bit of Thousand Island dressing, but you really don’t need any extras—it has plenty of flavor all on its own.

Chickpea, beet & quinoa burger on a whole wheat bun with spinach and thousand island dressing./Photo credit: Lisa Singer
Chickpea, beet & quinoa burger on a whole wheat bun with spinach and thousand island dressing. Photo credit: Lisa Singer

Final analysis: the burgers were delicious but A LOT of work. If you’re up for the challenge, The Bojon Gourmet says you can cook everything ahead of time, and the burger mixture will keep well in the fridge for several days—something I highly recommend, especially if you have hungry guests waiting to eat!

— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal

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