This week we're headed across the Atlantic (well, depending on where you live) - namely, we're making a short stop in the United States of America! For a burger or two.
The lectures of this week have been focused on a more global outlook on health, and it made me think even more about planetary health. Eating more vegetarian foods such as vegetables, legumes and fruit are one way in which we can affect our impact on the climate change in a positive way, and not least to mention, it's good for our bodies, too.
Stockholm Resilience Centre conducts research about resilience and sustainability, and this 2020 study conducted by an international team including two of their researchers, Ingo Fetzer and Johan Rockström, presents a theory of how 10.2 million people can be fed within the boundaries of the planet. One component is consumers' diets, that needs to be shifted from less animal-based foods.
Last year World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) released a guide in Swedish on how to choose more sustainably among vegetarian foods. Avocados, bananas, dates and nuts (among other foods) require large amounts of water for their production, sometimes in regions where water supplies are already scarce. For example, growing one (!) almond require 4 L of water. Most almonds are grown in California, where up to 80 % of orchards are watered through irrigation.
San Joaquin Valley, CA (2017)
I find joy in trying to eat seasonally. Not just because it usually results in less transports, but also because food taste better in peak season, and it is also cheaper - an incentive to eat strawberries in June and kale in December just as good as any. With all of this in mind, I was inspired to make a more seasonal veggie burger.
Burgers are, after all, a very beloved food and I fully understand how others might want their burger in a specific manner - food is so much more than fuel for our bodies. The tradition of shaping ground meat into countless shapes dates back to Ancient times, tagged along through the Medieval times and were seen also in the Middle East in the form of for example kabob. The modern burger saw daylight first in the 1870s when so called "Hamburger steaks" were served in restaurants - their name recalling the city port from which high-quality meat was shipped to the rest of the world. The beef grinder meant that various pieces of meat could be used for the dish, and its name was soon condensed to simply "hamburger", and served also with ketchup and pickles. During the 1900s the name was shortened further to burger and the dish served as a cheap, accessible fast food. However in later years hamburgers have been included in an opposite trend where their composition have been dedicated more time, and perhaps money, too (homemode condiments, sweet potato fries, brioche buns - here's looking at you!).
Veggie burgers might be a large step from Hamburger steaks, but they are certainly a dish on their own, and I loved this article that dives deep into how to make really good ones.
The starting point of these black bean burgers were on American soil, with inspiration from a recipe by The Pioneer Woman. I mainly changed it by switching chicken eggs for chia eggs. Trying to use more seasonal produce the traditional salad-tomato toppings were switched to a simple pea mash with parsley for flavor, sprouts for some crunch, a soft dijonnaise with an edge and caramelized onions for that umami.
Black Bean Burgers and Caramelized Onion
240 g cooked black beans (380 g can)
1 yellow onion
100 ml bread crumbs (gluten free, if needed)
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water)
Black pepper, ground
(Optional: smoked paprika powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder)
Oil, for the pan
In a small bowl, start by making the chia egg by mixing seeds and water. Set aside.
Rinse the beans if using canned.
In a large bowl, mash the beans with a fork. Finely chop half of the yellow onion and slice the other half for the caramelized onion.
Add the chopped onion to the mashed beans along with the chia egg, bread crumbs and seasoning.
Heat a pan to medium heat with some oil. Shape four hamburgers, and add to one side of the pan. On the other side, add the sliced onion. Let cook until golden, about 10-15 minutes.
Simple Parsley Pea Mash
200 ml frozen green peas, thawed
100 ml sunflower seeds
1 tbsp parsley, chopped (I use frozen)
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper, ground
Mix all ingredients in a mixer, or using a hand blender. Adjust seasoning to taste.
(adapted from this recipe)
1,5 tbsp aquafaba
1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
2 tsp dijon mustard
100 ml canola oil
Put everything except for the oil in a bowl and mix.
Slowly add the oil in small drops while mixing with a hand blender.
4 hamburger buns (gluten free, if needed)
Sprouts (I used alfalfa)
Optional: Ketchup, pickles
Final preparation: Assemble the burgers and enjoy!
Continuing on our America theme, I later during the week needed to use some potatoes, which resulted in trying a new recipe for vegan mac and cheese. This dish has always had a somewhat magical aura to me since I saw it in one episode of the cartoon series Courage the Cowardly Dog as a child. When I first tried it in the U.S., it was really that good, and that magic aura came along again as I saw the expectation in the eyes of adults and children alike when the sentence special home made mac and cheese was uttered.
This time around I used this recipe from Live Slow Run Far. I used carrots instead of butternut pumpkin since that was what I had on hand, it turned out lovely!
Again referring to the 2020 study, another component of moving towards a more sustainable diet is less food waste - if you tire of eating burgers, feel free to switch it up and have a patty with your mac and cheese. Or plain pasta.