If you’ve been reading here for a while, you probably realize at this point that I’m pretty frugal. I try to make do with what I have before just buying more. This applies to all kinds of things including food. I hate having to create a grocery list for specific items and then ending up with a bunch of leftover odds and ends that never seem to get used.
I’ll make a list and buy ingredients for special occasions but for every day meals I don’t bother. All it takes is a little creativity and you can come up with something pretty tasty without a trip to the grocery store. It’s rare that my recipes for dinner end up anything like the idea that they started out with. I thought I’d talk today about the thought process that I go through when figuring out something to make for dinner.
Because it’s the New Year, there are tons of black eyed pea recipes floating around. I found a recipe for Black Eyed Pea Cakes and Beer Braised Turnip Greens that sounded really good. Only there was a problem. I had just about none of the ingredients on hand. I could have thrown a list together and made the recipe as planned, but I poked around the pantry to see what I could come up with.
Here’s part of the original ingredient list – quinoa, veggie broth, black eye peas, red onion, turnip greens, beer, pine nuts. I didn’t have any of that, LOL. So basically I had nothing but the spices. Pretty challenging to make the recipe, huh. Until I Questified it.
I look for things that are similar in taste and texture to the original. Quinoa is close to rice only the grains are smaller. Unless you are vegetarian, chicken and veggie broth is interchangeable. If you are cooking the onions instead of serving them raw in a salad, then red and yellow onions can be swapped in most recipes.
The pea cakes looked very close to veggie burgers in the picture and I’ve had black bean veggie burgers plenty of times. I opted for a can of black beans since I had one. Greens are greens so spinach was an easy change there, but keep in mind cooking times. Turnip greens are very tough so they take a lot longer to cook than spinach which is more leafy. I adjusted accordingly.
I also was lazy and decided to leave out the beer. I actually had a bottle on hand but I didn’t feel like drinking the rest and I didn’t have another recipe queued up to use it. I opted to leave the beer and pine nuts out since I figured I wouldn’t miss them. You could easily use another nut if you have them on hand.
Black Bean and Rice Veggie Burgers with Wilted Spinach
- 1/4 cup (42g) uncooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup (28g) panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup (100g) chopped onion
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 6 cups (340g) raw spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Large pinch sugar
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Cook the rice according to package directions. I actually cooked a large batch so I had some leftover for meals this week, and I used 120 grams of cooked brown rice for the cakes. Take about half the black beans and mash them with a fork. This will help make the patties stick together a little better and be less crumbly.
Mix the rice, black beans (mashed and whole), broth, bread crumbs, garlic, spices, and eggs together in a bowl. Form into patties of whatever size you like and about 1/2 inch thick. Heat a pan over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray. Cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
I actually didn’t form my patties ahead of time. I used an ice cream scoop and plopped them into the pan as I cooked them. I pressed them into a burger shape in the frying pan with the back of the scoop. When the patties are done, remove them from the pan to make room for the next batch.
Use the same pan, and add the spinach leaves and remaining cloves of garlic. Toss the spinach as it cooks to gently wilt it. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of sugar and drizzle in the red wine vinegar. Toss to coat. Once the spinach is wilted, remove from heat and serve with the patties.
Makes about 4 servings of 8 – 10 patties and spinach at approximately 247 calories – 15g protein, 40g carbs, and 3g fat.
To make these a true veggie burger, use veggie broth obviously. You could even make them vegan by leaving out the egg. Play around with the size of them too. I made ours on the small side since we weren’t planning on eating them like a burger. You can make them more burger sized and have them on a bun or even make them smaller and more appetizer sized.
Think outside the recipe too and use what you have. Black bean and corn with Mexican spices would be a nice combination. You could go Italian with cannellini beans and oregano and basil. Middle Eastern with garbanzo beans, cilantro, and tahini. It’s easy and a great way to change up your standard recipes and make them into something new.