Crispy Chickpea and Harissa Burger

On my Foodie bucket list is the ability to make an amazing veggie burger. 

As I have mentioned ad nauseam, I used to be a vegetarian. For a decade, people. And it was roasted Thanksgiving turkey that pushed me over the edge. And since then, I have been in free fall. That said, I do still love a great veggie burger. 

Yet, I cannot seem to make them on my own properly.

Enter in Anna Jones's A Modern Way to Cook, a vegetarian cookbook I have been looking forward to obtaining, as I love her other cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat, so very much.  This latest output from Jones begins with the premise that we can all eat healthier no matter the time limitation we may find in the kitchen. From mere minutes to what she calls "investment cooking," this cookbook is delightfully arranged by the amount of time it takes to cook a meal. You might have only 20 minutes or a splurge-worthy 45 minutes, but no matter the time, you can get a salad or a grain bowl or even some moussaka on the table. 

The photographs by Matt Russell are spare meditations on Jones's cooking, and her recipes are inviting, chatty, and gentle. She's like a friend in the kitchen, nudging you to try something new, even if you're not very familiar with an ingredient or a cooking method.

This cookbook lured me in with its satisfying layout and lovely photographs; however, it's not the cookbook for everyone. Jones has embraced zucchini slivers as "noodles" or cauliflower as "rice"--both of which are quite trendy in healthy cooking right now.  And she presents such beautiful recipes as "Zucchini Noodles with Pistachio, Green Herbs, and Ricotta" and "Celery Root, Bay Leaf, and Mushroom Ragu" and "Blood Orange and Double Chocolate Rye Muffins." 

Okay, those sound good. Are you on board?

But here's my most mighty of struggles: Jones's crispy chickpea burgers did not hit the spot. 

I found this recipe to be too, well, much. The burgers were too sweet; the texture too mushy; the number of required dishes, pots and pans too many (I know, Jones calls for an immersion blender, but I do not have one, and that meant an extra dish of the food processor). While the recipe produced a pretty patty, I was disappointed. 

Now, don't get me wrong, this disappointment may fall entirely on my head. Perhaps I did not drain enough water off of the peas or I could have cooked the quinoa more. And I know my palate: I didn't really need the dates in the veggie burger. (I am full well aware that the dates were to offset the heat of the harissa, but I like me some heat, so I could have left them aside.) And I did leave out the pomegranate molasses, because that's too sweet for me. 

That said, I did love the harissa, and I loved the tomato relish. So simple, and certainly a condiment worth making for any burger--veggie or otherwise--that you might make.

However, my quest for the perfect veggie burger continues. 

Despite my continued quest, don't let it stop you from nabbing this lovely cookbook. If you are interested in vegetarian, healthy eating, this is the cookbook for you. Now I just need to go make those rye muffins.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Crispy Chickpea and Harissa Burger

6 Servings

For the burgers:
7 ounces cooked quinoa (3.5 ounces uncooked)
7 ounces frozen peas
1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 medjool dates (optional)
a large bunch of parsley
1 Tbsp harissa
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
olive or coconut oil
1 3/4 ounce sesame seeds

For the relish:
1 red onion 
7 ounces cherry tomatoes
a good drizzle of pomegranate molasses (optional)
a bunch of cilantro

To serve:
6 burger buns
salad greens

1. Boil some water. 

2.  If you need to cook your quinoa, start by toasting it in a pan until you can hear it pop, as this gives it more flavor. Add the quinoa to a large pan, and then add twice the amount of boiling water to the pan. Cook until all of the water has been absorbed.

3.  Put the frozen peas in a heatproof bowl, cover them with boiling water, and leave for 10 minutes.

4. Put the drained chickpeas into a frying pan with cumin, coriander, and smoke paprika, and toast until all of the moisture is gone, and the chickpeas are starting to pop.

5. Drain the peas very well and put them into a food processor. Add half of the chickpeas and half the cooked quinoa, then add the dates (optional), parsley, harissa, and mustard.  Blend until everything is combined, and then add to a clean bowl. Stir in the rest of the chickpeas and quinoa and mix well.

6. Divide the mixture into six equal portions, and shape each into a thin burger. Refrigerate them for 15-20 minutes. 

7.  To make the relish, finely slice the onion and fry in oil over very high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, until they have broken down, then add the pomegranate molasses. Take off the heat and transfer to a bowl, then coarsely chop the cilantro and mix in.

8.  While the relish is cooking, cook the burgers. Heat a frying pan over medium heat (you can cook them in batches or have two pans going at once). Add a little olive oil or coconut oil and fry the burgers on each side for 5 minutes, until crisp and warmed through. Once they are done, sprinkle both sides with sesame seeds and cook for another minute on each side to toast. 

9.  Toast the buns in a dry pan on the oven, or toss them in the oven for a minute or two (or do what I did: throw them in the toaster); then layer the burgers with hummus, some tomato relish, and the salad greens.


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