Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Veggie Burgers

Do you ever get totally obsessed with one ingredient? Like, you find an ingredient that you suddenly want to wife up and NEED TO ADD TO EVERYTHING EVEN THOUGH PICKLED ASPARAGUS AND KUMQUATS REALLY AREN’T A THING. My ingredient du jour is sun-dried tomatoes. I can’t really explain it (maybe I’m lusting for the soon-to-be tomato season? Maybe I’ve been eating canned/jarred food for so many months straight that I can only eat vegetables that have been preserved?). Whatever the reason, I can’t stop. Sun-dried tomatoes, I wish I could quit you, but I can’t.

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I like to buy them packed in oil because they are already nice and plump and perfect for adding to pasta, salads, sandwiches, pancakes… I really did try that. Verdict: Pretty good.
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Of course, a natural use for sun-dried tomatoes is in sun-dried tomato pesto. It goes without saying that tomatoes and basil are an incredible pairing (#italianshit), but somehow this fact continues to surprise me and rain joyful flavor showers on my tastebuds all the time. I made these burgers a pesto double whammy by filling them with pesto and topping them with a hearty smear of extra pesto. You may opt to top them with other condiments, but if you choose pesto it’s pretty tasty. YOU WON’T BE SORRY, JUST SAYING.

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The patties are quick to make and brown up really nicely in the oven. Fresh basil is a must, but otherwise the ingredients happen to be all shelf-stable for year-round summery flavor.

OH AND LET’S NOT FORGET THIS IS THE 21ST WAY TO LOVE A CHICKPEA.

Sun-dried Tomato Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Makes 4 (double if you’re serving a crowd)

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts + 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (loosely packed) + 1/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (condiment)

  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato, packed in oil (1.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 400*

1. Add the chickpeas to a food processor and process for 20 seconds, until a thick past begins to form. Remove and pour into a large bowl.

2. Add the cooked brown rice and process for 10-15 seconds until loosely chopped. Combine with the chickpea mash.

3. Pour the pine nuts into the food processor, pulse until they’re finely chopped, then add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Add a light drizzle of olive oil (or pour a bit of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar).  — I recommend doing the burger portion separate from the “condiment” portion so you can easily distinguish what goes where, but you can also do it all at once and then divide in half.

4. Combine the pesto mixture, brown rice, and chickpea mash and add 2 Tbs whole pine nuts and 1/4 cup loosely chopped basil. Use your hands to form the mixture into hockey puck patties (add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the mixture if necessary to make it more moist). This mixture will yield 4 patties.

5. Take a cookie sheet and spread olive oil on both the sheet and both sides of the burgers. It doesn’t take much, but omitting the oil will cause the burgers to stick to the sheet and can burn. Place the four patties on the sheet and place in the oven for 10-14 minutes, flipping carefully halfway through.

For the pesto topping:

Simply repeat step 3 with remaining pine nuts, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil.

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Tahini White Bean Pasta Salad

In my opinion, the best thing about summer is the food. [Do I say this at the beginning of every season?]

I pee my pants every time I go to the farmers’ market and see that new things have popped up. I am growing my first real vegetable garden and I am starting to see tiny strawberries show their ugly little green faces and I am THRILLED. If I didn’t have a job, I would very likely spend all day sitting and watering them every hour and watching them grow. I may have spent half of this morning doing that. #yolo

 

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With new, fresh produce growing every minute (okay, I measured: every few hours), I am constantly looking for new ways to use veggies. If you receive a CSA, I’m sure you’re already up to your eyebrows in turnips, mustard greens, and lettuce. I like a good olive oil, garlic, sea salt and greens du jou sauté as much as the next broad, but it can grow tiresome after the fifth straight day of kale salad in a kale dressing with a side of kale.

That’s why my new obsession is this pasta salad. It can take just about any chopped up vegetable or herb, and has a hearty base which does not involve a cruciferous vegetable. I like tahini as a base for a salad because it adds creaminess without getting weighed down by the richness of mayonnaise or dairy substitutes. Plus, it delightfully nutty, and the lemon juice/vinegar combo adds a bit of a zing. This recipe is easily adapted to whatever herbs or veggies you had on hand (I detail a list of my favorites below).

 

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Vegan Tahini White Bean Pasta Salad

  • 1/2 lb of your favorite noodles (I recommend elbows or bowties )
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup or so of cilantro

Optional additions (all finely chopped):

  • carrots (grated)
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • basil
  • broccoli
  • snap peas
  • cucumber
  • cabbage

Tahini dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, agave nectar, or sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 3 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Set to cool.

2. Whisk together all of the tahini dressing ingredients in a bowl. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, white beans, veggies, and herbs. Stir in the tahini dressing and serve room temperature or chilled.

 

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TRAVELS OF LATE

This spring I’ve been #blessed enough to do a bit of traveling. #hashtag #poundsign #travelbug #travelearthworm

I generally keep the blog to recipes and random anecdotes, but I thought I would experiment with including some details of my trips in case anyone is planning some visits and would like tips on what to do in these places (vegan or otherwise). My tips for traveling relatively cheaply are pretty straightforward: stay with people you know and/or couchsurf and/or find  inexpensive Airbnbs; eat meals at home when you can, so that you can splurge on drinks and meals at night (haaaay box of cereal and almond milk for breakfast and lunch); book flights early and use Hipmunk to find deals OR road trip and get people to chip in for gas; travel domestically! I think the US is a fabulous place to travel. If you don’t believe me, read hereherehere, here, here and here.

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In March, I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a long weekend with my mom. Some people might find five days nonstop with their mom to be their own personal hell, but I like my mom, so it was fun. My personal hell is the DMV, but I will likely get to that in another post.

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While in Charleston, we ate at a bunch of great places, including: Xiao Bao Biscuit (get the Mapo Doufu– spiiiicy), Hominy Grill (everything comes with boiled peanuts!), Co, and Dellz Uptown. We stayed in an Airbnb, which definitely enhanced the feeling of being a local for a few days. With that in mind, I randomly found myself with a ticket to a Shakey Graves concert at the Charleston Music Hall and went to two yoga classes at a great local studio. I am trying to adopt this style of travel (hypnotizing yourself to believe you’re a local so you can skip all the tourist traps) because I think you get a lot more out of it. That said, we did hit some historic house tours, Magnolia Plantation, and the Charleston Museum, which were all super interesting. A lot of Civil War facts came flooding back from 8th grade, and I ain’t mad.

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Continuing on our vague tour of the South, in early May we hit up New Orleans for my cousin Jasper’s wedding. The wedding was pretty perfect. They served champagne and potato chips at the reception and had a brass band come play, so obviously things got funky. For eats, we hit up Dat Dog (they have vegetarian and vegan dogs, plus SO MANY TOPPING OPTIONS), Mat and Naddie’s (ignore the Comic Sans on their website, the food is great), Maurepas Foods in the Bywater (1-2 veg options, but very good drinks), and Vietnamese food from Mint. We were fairly consumed with wedding and family things, but made time for walks around the Garden District and stopped by the French Quarter.

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Last but not least, this Memorial Day weekend Ben and I shot up to Portland and Boothbay Harbor, Maine for a little getaway. Portland is SO COOL. We stayed at another fabulous Airbnb for one night (I really do adore them) and with Ben’s family for the next two. We borrowed bikes to explore downtown and had time to visit a handful of spots: LFK for drinks, Pai Men Miyake for some damn fly ramen, The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box for more drinks and somewhat creepy times, Local Sprouts for breakfast (lots o’ vegan options), and always a stop at the Co-op. Up in Boothbay Harbor we grabbed our first cones of the summer (my blueberry sorbet tasted like sweet, sweet summer in my mouth). We spent the rest of the weekend hanging out at the rocky beach and pretending the water temp wasn’t actually 15 degrees.

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That’s all I’ve got! If you have any questions hit me up. Where are you traveling next?

 

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