If your farmer’s market is anything like mine, you’ve been seeing a lot of swiss chard lately. It’s beautiful to look at – a tight bunch of dark, strong, leafy greens with brightly colored stems. It has such a presence and some people just love it. They see it at the market stand and can’t wait to bring it home for dinner. Quite frankly, I’m not one of those people. I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. Sure, I have a number of cookbooks that include swiss chard recipes, but I haven’t been brave enough to try them.
Enter the veggie burger. Years ago a friend introduced me to these burgers and it was love at first bite. The star ingredients are swiss chard, mushrooms and pecans. I’ve served them at picnics and everyone has loved them – my carnivore and herbivore friends alike. I serve them with some regularity at home, where we enjoy them over an enormous bed of greens. Bun or no bun, salad or no salad, these burgers are good. I’ll share the recipe here with my adjustments. It comes from Vegetarian Burgers by Bharti Kirchner. I’ve [reluctantly] lent out my copy many times and every time, the borrower ends up purchasing the book because it’s chock full of so many good recipes, like zucchini burgers, lentil burgers, black bean and quinoa burgers and more.
Pecan Mushroom Burgers
Get your ingredients together:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coarsley chopped green onions/scallions
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb swiss chard leaves, stems removed, coarsley chopped (about 2 packed cups)
2 teaspoons tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 cup prepared Bulgur (soak 1/2 cup bulgur in 1 cup water for 30-40 minutes or until soft.
1/2 cup pecans
1 3/4 cups bread crumbs
salt and pepper
Now make the burgers:
Heat the oil in skillet or wok; cook the garlic until golden.
Add onions, mushrooms, chard, tamari and rice vinegar. Cook, covered, until the vegetables are softened.
Toast the pecans in the oven and let them cool. Pace them in a food processor with the blade attachment or in a coffee grinder. Pulse to process until coarsely ground.
Place the vegetable mixture, ground pecans and the bulgur in the food processor or blender; pulse several times until well blended.
Scrape everything into a large bowl and add bread crumbs in 1/2 cup increments. Mix with a spoon or your hands until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, adding more bread crumbs as needed. Note: I add some bread crumbs, mix, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes before adding more bread crumbs. Too many bread crumbs will result in dry, hard burgers, and it’s better to add too few than too many bread crumbs.
Form patties 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Pan fry in a smidge of oil, keeping the burgers covered with either a lid or a splatter screen. Fry ’em up until one side is browned, then flip them over. Voila! You have yourself a veggie burger! If you’re grilling outdoors, these withstand the grill quite well.
Serving suggestions: on whole wheat bun or a top an enormous salad with a wedge of focaccia bread on the side.