This week marks the beginning of the meatless or vegetarian entrée dishes. Within my household, my older sister has been a vegetarian for approximately 9 years now, so majority of the time we are consuming vegetarian foods. My mom’s logic is that she would rather cook one vegetarian dish with maybe some meat on the side, rather than cooking two completely different dishes. I understand this completely because cooking can take up a lot of time depending on what you are making. And who wants to spend all day in the kitchen? Anyways, that being said, I needed to find a vegetarian dish that will satisfy everyone’s palettes. Like last time, I wanted to use/find other resources (online food blogs, websites etc) that will assist me in my creation. I went into Google and typed in vegetarian dishes. Once again the amount of options was overwhelming. Being seven weeks into my online learning project, I still happen to be taken back by the number of food websites/options. I happened to stumble upon this blog called, eating well living thin, and I was immediately pulled in by the layout and organization of the blog. I scoured the blog, literally making myself hungry because everything looked so tasty, but I eventually came upon one recipe, which I thought would be the perfect start to this category. It was difficult and requires me to learn some new skills, so I was all in to make Vegetarian Quinoa Burgers.
Before I started to assemble the burgers, I wanted to make sure I was confident in the recipe and its ingredients. I read through everything and to be honest it looked very reasonable. The more and more I cook (having completed 3 categories already) the more confident I become in new and future recipes. However, there was one thing within the recipe that I was not certain about at all, and unfortunately it was the main star of the dish: Quinoa.
What exactly is quinoa? I have eaten quinoa in salads and casseroles before but to be honest I don’t really know what it is or how I would even begin to cook it. That being said, I quickly conducted some online learning to learn a little more about quinoa. I found this website to be helpful as it not only stated what quinoa was but it also provided the cooking instructions. It stated that quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, however, it is actually a seed, which can be prepared like whole grains. Really? A seed? That is something that I did not know. Another thing that I learned is that out of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content so it is perfect for vegetarians. Well how awesome is that! This must be a sign that I chose the right recipe! Quinoa provides 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Now that I relatively know what quinoa is, I needed to learn how to cook it. According to the website preparing quinoa is very similar to preparing rice. Place the quinoa into a pot and cover it with water or even vegetable broth. Boil the quinoa until soft, which should only be about 15 minutes. It is important that you stir and keep an eye on the quinoa because it is very easy for it to burn. If you want to learn more about quinoa check out the following website. At the very bottom it provides more health benefits as well as a few quinoa recipes.
Now that I learned all that I could about quinoa I felt good going into this recipe. Now there was only one thing left to do. Make sure I have all the ingredients. Once I found an ingredient that I needed I placed it on the counter so that it was easier to access. Being organized in this way also saves a lot of time. Thankfully, we had all the ingredients that I needed, so I did not have to run to the grocery store this time.
Cooking rule #1: Make sure you have all the ingredients. CHECK.
2 rounded cups cooked quinoa
¾-cup shredded cheddar cheese (or other variety, if you prefer)
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 medium carrot, finely grated
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 green onions, including white parts
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8-teaspoon garlic powder
Olive oil for frying
In a medium sized pot bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Add quinoa and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the seeds are tender. Once the quinoa is cooked remove from heat and leave for a few minutes to cool. As the quinoa was cooking I was preparing all the other ingredients. After a while I kind of forgot about the quinoa because I was into my chopping and grating, so I quickly went over to the stove and thankfully nothing was burning. Cooking quinoa actually was not that difficult, but I am still glad that I went online to learn how.
Grate carrots and finely chop the green onions. Then in a large bowl combine the 2 rounded cups of cooked quinoa, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, carrot, eggs, flour, green onions, sugar, pepper, cumin, salt and garlic powder. Before I even began to combine the ingredients in the bowl I measured out and chopped everything first. This way it saved time. When it came to cracking the eggs, I remembered all the way back to the first week when I attempted to make zucchini fritters. I cracked the eggs within the mixture, which turned out to be a mistake because quickly after I was finishing for eggshells and it was hard to tell how many were in there due to all the other ingredients. I did not want to make that same mistake this time so I grabbed a separate bowl to crack the eggs in. This way if by chance some shell got into the bowl I could easily see/remove them and than add the egg to the burger mixture. Thankfully, I did not see any shells in the bowl so I just added them to the mixture.
Once everything was in the bowl I mixed well so that all the ingredients could merry together. As well, I decided that I did not want to fry the burgers just yet so I placed them in the fridge to chill. While the mixture was chilling I cleaned the kitchen so it was a cleaner environment for me to fry in.
Heat a frying pan and a couple teaspoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Recalling once again to week #1, I used my hands/spoon to shape the patties, which did not turn out great because they were uneven and seemed to fall apart quickly. As a result, and actually the recipe calls for this, using a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop and drop the mixture into a pan and lightly flatten with the back of the measuring cup to ½ inch thick. Fry until golden-brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. I really like the idea of scooping out the mixture with the measuring cup because than you can be guaranteed that all the burgers will be relatively the same size and shape. If I were to use my hands or even a spoon, like last time, they would probably be all different sizes and would have come apart. None of the burgers came apart while flipping.
Once all the burgers have been made, I left them to cool. During this time, I prepared some fixings for the burgers, like lettuce, tomato, cheese and condiments.
Take a bun and cut in half. Place the quinoa burger on one bun and layer with your choice of the fixings and enjoy!
These were actually really good! The burgers were crispy, crunchy, and full of flavor, protein and fiber. They were also very filling. I could hardly finish mine to be honest. In total, this recipe took me about an hour and a half. It seemed to be much shorter than that really because I was very into what I was doing (time went by so fast). My sister, the vegetarian one, loved them! She had 3 burgers!! Well, without the bun. She even asked me to make them again sometime. This came as a huge surprise because at the very beginning of my learning project she was the one that doubted me. Well look at me now! Hahaha. The rest of my family really enjoyed them as well. I asked them if they would change anything and for the first or second time since I started my learning project, they said no. This made me really happy because it showed that I was successful and that in the end I am learning how to cook.
I am very thankful however, that I am taking the time to learn how to cook. If I did not take the time to carry out some online learning every week I do not feel like I would be as confident in my abilities.
I am unsure of what to make next week. There are so many great options I literally just want to make everything…
Do you have any suggestions?
Bye for now!