The scoop on plant based burgers

I've been on a plant-based burger kick lately. I'm still a noob when it comes to making them. It's been so much fun experimenting. I like plant-based burgers because they're versatile and easy to put together. They're a great base for filling weekday lunches. You can layer on different textures and tastes by changing around the base ingredients that you put in them. You can also build in a lot of flavors by using different oils, herbs, and spices. These burgers also hold up well, they're great in the freezer and hold up to different cooking techniques. 

The basics
  • Beans (or pulses) are a must. Bodies need protein.
  • A starchy ingredient like plantain, rice, millet, sweet potato. Make sure they're cooked or you'll have a super crunchy mess to eat up.
  • Herbs - fresh preferred (or somewhat hydrated dry herbs if you're in a pinch
  • Spices: Cumin and paprika for a smoky mix, or coriander, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes for a kick. Sky's the limit.
  • Garlic and onions (lightly sauteed).
  • Other veggies that aren't too watery: Think steamed cauliflower, mashed peas, roasted peppers, mushrooms, shredded carrots
  • Eggs (skip if your mix is wet enough)
  • Flour of some sort to hold things together. I've used corn, rice, and chickpea flour.
Cook 'em up
I've tried three methods for cooking up plant-based burgers. Each one has it's merited, it just depends on what you have the patience for. To start, lightly mash the beans and sturdier ingredients. Then add in everything else and mix until well combined. I prefer things on the chunky side so I use a fork and spoon instead of a blender.
  • Waffle iron: The quickest and insta-worthy. like this method because it's super quick. Like 5-10 minutes and you've got a meal.
  • Baked: The most hands-off. Form the dough into parties, add to a greased baking sheet and toss them in the oven. I find that 10-15 mins a side at 350 is plenty. The advantage of this method is you can use the baking time to prep your ingredients.
  • Pan, cast iron preferred: Drizzle some and fry them up until they're browned on both sides. About 3-5 mins on medium heat.
Layer 'em up
Plant-based burgers aren't quite a standalone meal. I've found that I enjoy them best when they're accompanied by other supporting foods. Some options - 
  • A sauce of some kind is essential. The recipes I've tried have been on the dry side, so the sauce adds extra moisture and flavor. My go-to is mango chutney.
  • Don't skip the avocados. My household embraces avocado in all its forms.
  • Pickles. Extra perks if they're homemade.
  • A salad of some kind with a boiled egg on the side
  • Rice cakes
  • If bread is your jam or you've got good GF-bread available, toss all of the above on and enjoy. I haven't had this experience yet because I don't have access to GF bread.
Visuals courtesy of Marisol CasBen on Unsplash

Cauliflower & Millet Pizza Crust

The millet flour experiments continue!! Last week, I tried my hand at making pizza. I used a head of cauliflower and new fave flour - millet. I loved the color, texture and taste of the pizza crust. It definitely had a strong veggie taste that even the spices and flour couldn't mute it out. But it was delicious. And that's saying something given that cauliflower is my least favorite vegetable. 

Millet Flour Banana Bread

Due to shelter in place rules, I can't get to my usual grocery stores. I have to shop in my neighborhood don't have the same level of access to alternative flours. I went to one of the shops in my neighborhood and picked up some finger millet flour. I've been testing it out on a lot of diff things. Of course, my first experiment was with banana bread - my go-to baked good. My oh my, the results are yum!!! The millet flour added some extra fiber and rich color. Blended with cornflour, my loaves were not too gritty (tends to happen with cornflour) and had had just the right amount of fluff. 

Kigali Pesto Two Ways

My basil plants are flourishing - some even sprouted up unexpectedly. I have basil in abundance. There are many ways to use it - I'm logging my go-to recipes. Basil is the start of these recipes - along with two other ingredients that are plentiful and affordable in Kigali: pumpkin seeds and avocado. This recipe is a two for one - the same base but different flavor depending on the add-on ingredient. 

Chigumu: Traditional-ish GF Banana Bread

Traditional chigumu is made with three ingredients - corn flour, bananas & baking soda. This results in a very dense type of banana bread that I don't like as much. So I've leveled the traditional recipe up a bit. My recipe for chigumu results in a fluffier and lighter loaf. 

You'll need:
  • 1.5 cups cornflour
  • 0.5 cups rice flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Spices - e.g. cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg whatever you like
  • 3-4 large ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup some milk 
  • 2 tablespoons of a neutral oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix dry and wet ingredients separately. 
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients gradually. 
  4. Add it all together it all together. If the mixture is too thick, add some milk to thin it out to your desired consistency. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins or until a knife pierced into the chigumu comes out clean
  6. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before diving in.