I’ve known for months that my husband is going to New Mexico for a long weekend, leaving tomorrow night. October 6th is the date that our spiritual teacher Yogi Bhajan left his physical body ten years ago. A huge memorial weekend has been planned at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das in Espanola, NM, where he lived for the last 25 years of his life. We had been planning for my hubby to fly out and I had hoped the “ingredients” would come together for me to join him. Just yesterday we decided that we will both go, driving out tomorrow morning for a late night arrival. At 900 miles, it’s at least a 12 hour drive (speeding and only quick stops for fuel) and probably more like 13-14 hours. Besides packing, today I need to plan on what food to bring for the trip. I want to use up the fresh ingredients on hand so I don’t have to run to the store for anything today and we won’t need to stop for food on the way.
I scanned the fridge and freezer for a quick inventory… enough bread for 3 or 4 sandwiches, a couple of leftover besan-kale-onion pancakes, tomatoes, leftover boiled potatoes, a piece of onion, some frozen roasted jalapenos, a pound of carrots, a few slices of steamed beets, a handful of garbanzos I was going to use in salad, lettuce, rapini, kale, carrots, and some leftover refried beans from making spontaneous nachos the other night. Oh, and 4-5 pieces of jalapeno cornbread. What’s going to make good road food?
Those besan pancakes are a definite; always a trusty travel food. Maybe bring a little catsup too. Be sure to pack apples and pears from the fruit bowl and some carrot sticks. Wrap up a few pieces of cornbread. If I have time I will whip up a batch of saag with the rapini and kale and freeze what we don’t eat tonight to enjoy some other time. I could make sandwiches for the trip but lettuce, tomato and goat Gouda aren’t going to quite cut it. Then those leftovers started coming together in my mind… Potatoes-beans-jalapenos-beets-onions … and I knew the answer. Burgers!
Out came everything from the fridge. I popped the potatoes into a small mixing bowl and started to mash them up with a fork. Refrigerated leftover potatoes make great home fries, but don’t mash as easily as those fresh off the stove, so I left them a little lumpy. Next came most of the refried beans (about a half can). I grated up the few beet slices and added them to the mix.I always keep some roasted chiles and peppers in the freezer so they are handy for times like this. A few quick chops and I had a diced jalapeno to add to the mix. The rest got put back in the freezer.
I made a quick chop of the bits of leftover onion, and yielded about a half cup of onions in 1/4-inch dice. Everything else in the burgers would already be “cooked” and I didn’t want raw onion chunks in there. Thus the onions found themselves in the skillet with a couple teaspoons of oil, getting sauteed to a nice golden brown. Everything in the bowl. What else? A little salt and pepper. a couple cloves of garlic grated up, a dash of cumin powder, and something to soak up moisture. My thoughts turned to the cornbread. It would be better dry, so I grated up a chunk and dry toasted it in my iron skillet. It would give a nice texture too. I thought a couple of thinly sliced green onions would add some nice color. Into the bowl they went!
I mixed this all together and felt the texture needed something a little more substantial. That handful or two of garbanzo beans called out to me, yearning for a destiny in burgers rather than salad. I gave them a quick coarse chop in the Vita-Mix and tossed them in. Looking very nice. now. I thought I’d try frying up a burger, made a small patty, and browned it on both sides. The taste was good, but it was a little too soft and didn’t hold together very well. What to add, what to add? I thought about adding some cornmeal, oats, more cornbread crumbs, arrowroot powder, or besan (garbanzo flour), and settled on besan; it would bind things together and add a little protein without making the burgers heavier or too carb-laden. I mixed in a couple tablespoons of besan and the “dough” immediately had a stiffer consistency. I knew it would work. I fried up one more test patty. Perfect!
This one got eaten for breakfast. Here it is on a plate, sitting pretty with some baby greens. It took a little more than a teaspoon of oil to fry the patty, and I don’t want to use that much on the ones I pack for our road trip. I preheated my oven to 375°, sprayed a baking sheet with oil, and formed the remaining mixture into 6 more patties. To form the patties, I first oiled my hands with olive oil. This would keep the dough from sticking all over my fingers, and also give each patty a thin coating of oil. I added a few drops of oil to my palm before forming each patty.
Aren’t they pretty? Popped them into the oven on the center rack and baked for about 10 minutes or so to get the underside browned. Then flipped them over with a spatula and did the other side for almost as long. The result was perfect.Non-greasy patties, dry on the outside, still pleasantly moist on the inside, very tasty, not crumbly, and I think they will make great sandwiches that shouldn’t get too soggy on the road. I’m not going to make the sandwiches until early tomorrow morning before we leave, but will try to remember to post a photo. But hey, we all know how we like our burgers and how great they look, right? I’ll be using chipotle Vegenaise, lettuce, onion, tomato, dill pickle, and maybe a dash of Crystal’s hot sauce or BBQ sauce, all between two slices of toasted multigrain bread.
Road Trip Veggie Burgers
Yield: 8 burgers
1/2 to 3/4 cup corn bread crumbs (or other type bread)
1-1/2 tsp. cooking oil
1/2 cup onion chopped in 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup mashed leftover potatoes
3/4 cup re-fried or mashed pinto or black beans
2 Tbsp. grated cooked beets
1 roasted jalapeno chili, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked and drained garbanzo beans, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
2 1/2 Tbsp. besan (garbanzo flour)
olive or other cooking oil for frying or baking burgers
Heat heavy skillet over medium-high flame. Add crumbs from day-old bread and cook over high heat 3-4 minutes, stirring fairly constantly, until crumbs are dry and lightly toasted (if you have already dry bread crumbs you can skip this step). Transfer toasted/dry bread crumbs to medium mixing bowl. Now add 1-2 tsp. of oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high flame. Add onions and saute until golden brown. Transfer onions to medium mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients, except olive or other cooking oil and mix well. Divide mixture into 8 equal parts and form each part into a patty about 3-1/2″ in diameter. To cook patties, either fry in heavy skillet in small amount of oil and brown well on each side, OR place on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in preheated oven 375° about 10 minutes on each side.
Note: You can season these burgers however you like by adding herbs or spices (fresh cilantro or parsley, oregano, and/or chili powder would be great with these – I would have added parsley and cilantro if I had in my fridge). You could also substitute drained and mashed tofu for some of the beans.