Over the holiday season I was in Cincinnati visiting my family and we went to one of my parents favorite restaurants The Iron Horse (http://www.ironhorseinn.com/). Whether we are in Seattle or Cincinnati, we are on a continual search for the best veggie burger. So recently, they raved about a great place with chickpea-beet burgers and sweet potato fries. So they wanted to give me a first hand experience. I was sold at first glance. These veggie burgers have made a home in my mind for the last three months.
One of the best parts about the whole experience was the opportunity to meet the executive chef, Jackson Rouse. He came out to say hello and tell us all the ingredients in the veggie burger. It was such a welcoming feeling to have him sit at our table, and go over each of the main ingredients in the burger. Veggie burgers are such an art form, and to create a successful one that binds well, has a good flavor and is authentic is something to brag about. Jackson has created just that. This chickpea burger is the perfect size, bigger than a slider, but small enough that the crunchy sweet potato fries are a perfect complement. The burger also comes with avocado, sliced peppers and green goddess dressing. I had to consciously tell myself to eat slowly and savor every bite to make the experience last as long as possible.
I was so honored when he gave me a copy of the recipe. So last night I put it to good use. As usual, I couldn't follow it completely. The original recipe calls for pecans. Because I have a gigantic bag of almonds in my freezer I used those. The original recipe calls for barley and oats. And I had both, but not enough oats, so I supplemented with quinoa. I bought some smoked chili powder several months ago, so I used that instead of the smoked paprika. For good measure I put some extra beets in too, so they are a little redder than the restaurant version.
This is truly a whole foods recipe. All the ingredients are so fresh and pure, that they deserved their own photo shoot. Pictured above are the pan toasted almonds and garlic. Right above are all the grains: barley, oats and quinoa, with a hint of the beets and smoked chili powder in the corner.
I must say, it is quite helpful to have all the ingredients pre-measured and ready to drop into the pan when their turn arrives. So if you have the time, I highly recommend it.
While the onions and grains were cooking, I put the rest of the ingredients in the food processor in preparation for pulsing.
There are so many dimensions and colors to this recipe. And cooking them together made for a really rich smelling apartment. I got a glimmer of it this morning too. So go ahead and give this recipe a whirl. Or even better, go to the Iron Horse...order a glass of wine, sit back and crunch into the veggie burger and dip into the the canister of fries. Oh and if you are more of a carnivore, you have a pick of other goodies too.
Iron Horse Smokey Chickpea Barley Burger
Adapted from Jackson Rouse's recipe at Iron Horse
Yields about 10 burgers
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, divided in half
1 Tbsp olive oil plus additional for brushing and cooking burgers
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup barley, dry
2 cup water + more if needed
1 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup almonds or pecans, raw and toasted (optional)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3-4 Tbsp grated raw beet
3/4 tsp smoked paprika or smoked ground chili pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
about 1/3 cup flour to bind if needed
Heat medium saute pan on medium heat. Add oil and saute onion and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir occasionally until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add barley, oats and water and cook covered until water is absorbed, about 30-35 minutes. Add a little water occasionally if necessary, until barley is cooked and all the water is absorbed (very important so the batter isn't soupy). Transfer to a bowl and mix with chickpeas and soy sauce.
Pulse barley mixture, almonds, garlic, cilantro, paprika, beets, rest of salt and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to medium bowl. If the mixture doesn't seem thick enough to make patties, add flour here. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Form 10-12 small burger patties. Chill on a plate in fridge at least 10 minutes.
Brush entire patty with oil. Heat saute pan or cast iron skillet, adding oil and cook each patty until golden brown on each side, carefully turning once. Serve on a bed of shredded kale and beets for a light dinner. Or on a bun with cheese and your favorite condiment. Patties freeze well too!