Quinoa Overload

I may have mentioned that I made too much quinoa for my 2 previously posted salads.  Not knowing if quinoa freezes well, I wanted to use up as much of the cooked grain as possible before leaving for our big vacation.  I came across this recipe in the August 3 Food & Dining Section of the Chicago Tribune.  Grain-free, meatless, and a cup of quinoa?  Sign me up!


Hearty cocoa black-bean burgers

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 burgers

From “Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes” by Dana Shultz.

1 cup raw walnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons grape seed or avocado oil, divided
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar, optional
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed, drained, patted dry
1 cup cooked quinoa

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast for 10-12 minutes, or until fragrant and light golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.

2. In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil, onion and garlic. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper; cook until onion is fragrant and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

2. Add cooled walnuts to a food processor or blender with the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Set aside.

3. Put the beans in a bowl. Mash well with a fork, leaving only a few beans whole. Add quinoa, nut-spice mixture, and sauteed garlic and onion; mix to combine. The mixture should have the texture of moldable dough. If it’s dry, add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of oil or water. If wet, add more walnut meal or breadcrumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

4. Divide into four even patties. (To help form them, line a 1/2 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap, pack in the burger mixture, lift it out and flatten slightly.

5. Heat the same skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add enough grape seed oil to form a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet. Carefully add the burgers. Brown on each side, flipping gently and controlling the heat if they brown too quickly, 3-5 minutes. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with desired toppings. (To crisp and firm up the burgers, place them in a 375-degree oven for 10-20 minutes.)

Nutrition information per patty: 386 calories, 24 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 13 g protein, 358 mg sodium, 13 g fiber

Note: To freeze the burgers, brown them on both sides as instructed. Cool completely and freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 4-6 hours, or until firm. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in a 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through and golden brown.

While I toasted the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat (it was much too hot out to turn on the oven), I started gathering the other ingredients, returning to the skillet frequently to toss the nuts so they wouldn’t scorch.  While cooking the onion and garlic, everything else went in the food processor, including the beans (after step 3).  The mixture came together beautifully with no additional water, oil, or breadcrumbs (I did not use the coconut sugar).  Some of the burger edges were cracking off as I was cooking them, but I think that was more a result of my freeform patties than the texture of the “meat”.


I was hesitant to put all 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the mix, and I was right.  There was a definite pasty bitterness, not so much in the bite, but in the aftertaste.  The bite itself was great– cumin and chili spice came through, and for a meatless burger, the texture was not too far off a real burger (minus the juiciness).  After a couple of bites, we added green salsa as a condiment, which added some heat and the missing moisture.  We talked about what other condiments or toppings we could add without it clashing with the cocoa (cheese? probably not). We decided mayo or a beet ketchup we’ve picked up on our travels might work, as well as mild salsa or hot sauce.  The tomatoes weren’t strange against the burger, so a traditional salsa would probably work.  Verdict:  I would probably try these again, reducing the cocoa powder by at least a tablespoon, and possibly increasing the onion and garlic.  They are an interesting vegan option, so if you are looking to liven up or expand your number of Meatless Mondays, these are worth a try.  After all, chocolate is its own food group.


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