Meatless Monday: White Bean Basil Burgers

One of the things I miss most about no longer eating meat is a good hamburger. I can easily turn down a steak, chicken (even wings!), and seafood. But I won’t try to pretend that I don’t miss a juicy hamburger (well, 99.9% of the time it’s a cheeseburger) from time to time. There was even an period when I was in middle school that my go-to order when out to eat was some type of burger and fries. It wasn’t because I was picky eater – it was simply because I loved them that much! So now that I’m a vegetarian, I think it’s natural that I find myself making some type of veggie burger frequently.

In the past my go-to base for a veggie burger has been black beans… partially because I love black beans, and partially because they seem to be the default for most restaurant and packaged veggie burgers. As I’ve delved more and more into a vegetarian diet and cooking in general, I’ve come to realize that you can really transform almost anything if you’re willing to take a little time and get creative.

These particular burgers came about due to a craving for both falafel and a veggie burger. I knew I had white beans at home (but no chickpeas), so my first instinct was to try and make a generic falafel based on white beans instead of chickpeas. While trying to remember what else I had laying around at home, I remembered the fresh basil from the previous week’s fresh box that was definitely on its last legs. That’s when I realized I could use the white beans and basil together, and satisfy my veggie burger craving; enter the White Bean Basil Burgers!

With the perfect combination of basil, red onion, and fresh sliced tomato and mozzarella, these burgers are a great end-0f-summer treat. I didn’t have mine on a bun simply because I didn’t have any, but they would be great on an Italian roll!

White Bean Basil Burger |

White Bean Basil Burgers
– makes 4 burgers –

1 15 oz. can white beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (just chopped works too)
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oil for cooking
Optional: Sliced tomato & fresh mozzarella cheese to top the burgers

1. In a large bowl, mash the white bean burgers with a potato masher or a fork.
2. Once the white beans are mashed, add in the rest of the ingredients: bread crumbs, garlic, onion, basil, and rosemary, stirring to make sure everything is combined well. Form into 4 patties.
4. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes, flipping once.
5. Serve with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, and additional fresh basil if desired.

Quick Fried Rice

About a week ago, I mentioned on Twitter how much I love Trader Joe’s “Indian Fare” dishes. They sell them in the prepared foods aisle, and for $1.99 you can have yourself a super quick and easy meal; I’ve even blogged about my love affair with them before. The folks over at Tasty Bite saw my tweet, and offered to send me some of their own equally quick and easy Indian dishes. Always willing to try something new, I eagerly sent them my address and a few days later I had quite the variety pack on my hands!

I’ve sampled two of the three Indian dishes so far, the Chana Masala and the Jodhpur Lentils. While I’ve had Chana Masala before (it’s one of my favorite Indian dishes), I’d never tried Jodhpur Lentils. Both were really flavorful, and you can’t beat the 90 second cook time! In addition to the Indian styled dishes, I also received two kinds of rice – a package of basmati and a package of brown rice. I saved the basmati rice to pair with my last Indian dish, Punjab eggplant. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with the brown rice, but when I was trying to figure out what I could do with leftover carrots and scallions from my Fresh Box, I had a genius idea – fried rice!

At first, I didn’t think the fried rice was going to be blog worthy – I mean, it was just some brown rice mixed with a few vegetables, eggs, and some soy sauce. Sure, it’s simple, but it’s really good. I’m talking about the kind of good where you take a taste and eagerly look over at your dining partner to see their reaction. I think that’s my favorite part about cooking – seeing the reaction and getting feedback on things I’ve made. It’s always nice to hear when someone is extremely impressed with a dish you’ve made!

The beauty about this recipe is that it can really work with any type of vegetables that you deem appropriate, making it perfect for an end of the week “clean out the fridge” kind of meal. So feel free to get creative with your ingredients, and if you do, let me know what you use!

Quick Fried Rice
– Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side –

1 package Tasty Bite instant brown rice (or 2-3 cups of cooked brown rice)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 medium sized carrots, diced
2 large eggs
4 scallions, diced
¼ cup soy sauce (I used ginger soy flavored for an extra kick of flavor)
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp oil of choice (olive, canola, vegetable, or sesame will work)
Sriracha or other hot sauce for garnish

1. Heat your oil of choice in a skillet over medium-high heat, and add your diced onion and diced carrot. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to look translucent. 
2.  Add in your soy sauce and rice wine vinegar and mix well. Crack in your eggs and constantly whisk them – your goal is to have a scrambled egg consistency. 
3. Once the onion and carrot is mixed with the egg and sauce, add in your  rice and scallions, stirring to combine.
4. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to ensure everything is heated through. Enjoy with some Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce!

Disclaimer: Tasty Bite sent me these entrées at no cost to me, and required nothing of me in return. Because I enjoyed the product so much, I decided to share it with you! All opinions and the recipe are my own.

This Week in Yum

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile, but figured it was worth bringing back. There weren’t any tests this week for the first time in a month (though I’m getting ready for a HIDA scan right now – fingers crossed I get a superpower as a result of the radiation!), so my schedule was pretty normal.

Of course the most interesting meal of the week is going to go undocumented, but I still think that you need to make them. I found the recipe on Pinterest (of course), and it ruled. I mean, how could pizza cupcakes not rule?! I made a few adjustments (used veggie sausage and no pepperoni, and added some red pepper flakes and oregano), and was pleasantly surprised. These were baked in a regular cupcake tin, but I could see them being a really great finger food at a party if you use a mini cupcake tin instead. Check out the recipe over at Make Ahead Meals.

I mustered up enough self-restraint to snap a picture of everything else I made for the week, and first up was salmon. While there isn’t anything special about the salmon when you look at it, what matters is the cooking method. I’ve had a jar of coconut oil in my pantry forever (that stuff really lasts!), and I’ve used it numerous times in baking. However, I never thought to use it as an oil replacement in savory dishes. I was afraid the fish would be a little too sweet with the light coconut flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised. Served alongside some sautéed zucchini with red onion and some brown rice, this was a great (and filling!) meal. I’m definitely going to try cooking with coconut oil more.

Mac ‘n cheese was the next (easy) adventure in the kitchen. I stumbled upon Budget Bytes a few months ago, and have made a ton of stuff from it. Everything is so quick and easy, and obviously budget friendly. All you need for this is milk, cheese, noodles, and then any type of spices you want to add. I also threw in some nutritional yeast to pump up the cheese factor (since I don’t think you can ever have too much cheese), and it was delicious. I could definitely see adding some vegetables into it, especially for kids that typically don’t eat their vegetables. While I didn’t wind up eating it until almost 9pm (hello marathon training), it was well worth the wait. I like when pasta dishes come together in about 15 minutes!

My last creation was far from creative – a Dr. Praeger’s California veggie burger with a fried egg on top. It was so simple, but so good! I love veggie burgers that taste like veggies, and Dr. Praeger’s is just that – the California burger has whole peas and pieces of carrots – so good. Sometimes (ok, a lot for me) you need something quick and easy on hand just in case you don’t feel like cooking. Having options in the freezer is always a good thing. Plus, you can dress them up when you are feeling a little creative.

I already have my meal plan for next week, and things are looking good again. So, if all goes well hopefully I’ll have another yummy week to report back on!

But, I want to know: did you have anything delicious this week? Do you have a go-to “no-brainer” meal? Do share!