Not surprisingly, this is the time of year I really ramp up my baking. Get ready; there are weeks of cookie recipes to come, as well as my new exploits into pie baking and bread baking and substituting some holiday faves, like evaporated and condensed milks.
So my first November post is...not about baking? Truth to be told, I've been really ridiculously excited about baking in November and December, like I always am (especially now that the new cookbook, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, has finally arrived - it looks amazing!). But I've been lacking ingredients, which has put a halt on the process. And I don't mean the usual omissions, like I usually write about in my posts when it's become clear I've forgotten something and need to make an off-the-cuff substitution. I mean I don't even have the basics to get a project started. Depressing, especially for me. The good news, though, is that I went shopping last night and reloaded my kitchen, and I have been reading Vegan Cookies like I suspect most people read The DaVinci Code or Harry Potter, so I'm sure some baked goods posts are forthcoming.
Instead, I thought today I would talk about another dinner idea that has ended up being a big hit in my house: Bulgur Burgers. I'm sure many of readers just scrunched their noses when they read that, but bear with me!
Although I'm generally a fan of such soy products like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk, I try to limit how much of it I eat. Soy is definitely a wonder food and very good for you, but from talking to different doctors and experts and doing research, it is pretty clear that the jury is still out regarding how much soy is recommended per week. I'm no doctor, but the general consensus is that it is fine to eat two significant servings of soy a week (like tofu or tempeh), but anything more than that and people seem to differ. As such, in any given week, Greg and I usually have one meal per week that is very soy-oriented, and occasionally we'll throw in a second one for good measure. In addition, although these options taste good, we try to limit the amount of processed "mock meats" that are on the market, because we figure it can't be healthy to eat out of the freezer constantly.
So what the heck else are we eating, especially to get protein? The good news is that there is a significant amount of protein in beans, grains, seeds, and some kinds of pasta, plus protein that gets overlooked in fruits and vegetables, so we have been experimenting with different kinds of recipes to vary our eating routine and still get plenty of protein.
One of the grains we've really enjoyed is bulgur, which is a great source both of fiber and protein. I think the majority of people eat bulgur (also called cracked wheat) in tabbouleh, which, although good, can get old kind of fast. And then one day, I was flipping through one of my trusty Moosewood cookbooks (Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, to be exact) and found a recipe for bulgur burgers. Wow, have these turned out to be great! Greg and I love these because they are filling, and they are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. We've had them with a whole number of sides: everything from fries to roasted vegetables to a simple salad.
The original Moosewood recipe calls for a number of ingredients but, as this post - and many previous posts - have highlighted time and again, I am usually lacking some kind of ingredient. I find it is really easy to substitute ingredients or just leave out some ingredients altogether; just make sure at least one or two of the ingredients will serve as a binder to hold everything together. The other nice thing about this recipe is that it is really easy to make ahead in one of two ways; you can either cook the bulgur ahead of time and then mix in the extra ingredients before making burgers, or you can mix everything together and just make the burgers right before baking.
I should note that when it comes to homemade burgers, I am terrible at actually getting the burger to stay together, regardless of what the recipe says. Although I've had the burgers fall apart on me in this recipe as well, I can say I've definitely had the most success with keeping these together. Or, on the flip side, sometimes I don't feel like making all of the burgers; in that case, you can honestly just skip making these into burgers and eat the hot bulgur mixed with the ingredients by itself, or mix everything together and reheat the next day (which I usually do). I love this recipe because it is so versatile, so don't be afraid to experiment!
Bulgur Burgers (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home)
Yields: 8-10 burgers
To prepare bulgur:
3 c. water
2-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 c. bulgur
Olive oil or fat-free spray
To prepare burger mixture:
1/2 c. chopped scallions or diced onions
1/2 c. grated carrots
1/4 c. hummus (try different flavors!)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (or else I have subbed just regular chopped tomato)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 heaping teaspon Dijon mustard
1) Boil water; while water is boiling, saute garlic and bulgur in oil or well-sprayed pan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. When the water boils, add it to the bulgur (it will sizzle, that is normal!). When the water boils again, cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the bulgur is cooked (the water will be absorbed, and the bulgur will be soft but chewy).
2) When the bulgur is cooked, remove from heat and mix in the ingredients. Form the mixture into 8-10 burgers and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. They will be done when the outside is crunchy.