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Veggie Burgers for Kids (and everyone else)

October 30, 2012

We’ve been eating a lot of veggie burgers around here lately. We’ve also been talking a lot about the moon.

The moon at sunrise this morning out our window

Luckily, our conversations about the moon have not yet gone beyond my limited knowledge of our solar system. They mostly consist of me telling O over and over again, “While the moon is out, we sleep. We don’t wake up until the sun does.” (Except for owls, who keep showing up in kids’ books talking about how they like to play at night. It’s no surprise that O is very fond of owls).

Our conversations about the moon even include visual learning tools, like the moon/sun nightlight set on a timer in O’s room, or me pointing out the window at the moon around 5:45 am. Thankfully, we’re no longer getting up in the middle of the night talking about the moon, but man, after almost 2 year of getting up before dawn we’re mighty anxious for this kid to start sleeping past 6am once or twice a week. The worst part is that when she does miraculously sleep in, Sorin and I wake up around 5:30am anyway.

Which brings us to veggie burgers. Getting up so early every morning has sort of killed my appetite for breakfast. These days, coffee is the only thing that sounds good. After decades of eating cereal or oatmeal, I no longer want it. Eggs are even less appealing. My solution has been to jump directly to lunch….at about 8am. By then, I’ve been up a few hours and I’m ready for some real food. Cold pizza sounds good. Bowls of quinoa and sweet potato sound good. Leftover pasta sounds good. And lately, so have veggie burgers.

Getting ready to chop kale for a batch of veggie burgers

Homemade veggie burgers warmed up in the microwave are a healthy, quick breakfast and a good way to get some veggies into your kid. The recipe here uses bulgur as a base, with a sneaky helping of kale, plus some red pepper and carrots thrown in. I’ve also been making quinoa burgers. Once you figure out your favorite base (like bulgur+eggs+panko or quinoa+beans) you can try endless combinations of flavors. My veggie burgers hold together, but they aren’t sturdy enough to be thrown on a grill. But come on, people. These aren’t real burgers. They’re veggie burgers.

One last thing: Is buying an espresso machine a really bad idea, or a really, really good idea? Comments welcome. When we first had a baby we decided it was a bad idea because we were likely to a.) overdose on caffeine and b.) never leave the house, since going to coffee shops is a favorite outing. But now, two years and many early  mornings later, a macchiato in the morning is sounding pretty dang good.

Yummy veggie burgers for breakfast, lunch or dinner

 

Veggie Burgers

Time in the Kitchen: Approx 45 minutes
Servings: About 8 burgers

1 bunch of kale, lower stems chopped off. Or, half a bag of pre-chopped kale (about 5 ounces)
1 cup of water, plus more to boil bulgur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup bulgur (look for “quick-cooking” or “medium grind”) on the label
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs, whisked (you can get by with just using one if you like)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Instructions:

In a food processor, blend the kale and cup of water until the kale is very finely chopped. Pour the kale water into a deep pot and add the bulgur and salt. You’ll also need to add more water, according to whatever your package of bulgur says. Bulgur from Bob’s Red Mill calls for a total of 2 cups water per 1 cup of uncooked bulgur. Arrowhead Mills bulgur calls for a total of 3 cups of water per 1 cup of uncooked bulgur. Bob’s bulgur is bigger and heartier, Arrowhead Mills is smaller and less chewy.

Bring the kale, appropriate amount of water and bulgur to a boil. Turn the heat down so the water is at a simmer. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed. The bulgar will be soft but chewy.

While the bulgur is cooking, saute the red pepper, carrot and onion in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the cooked bulgur with the veggies. Add salt to taste. At this point you could also add some chopped fresh herbs or a teaspoon or two of spices. You can also add 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese or grated cheddar.

Mix in the egg and panko.

Cover a cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 F

Form burgers  with about 1/3 cup of the bulgur. Use your hands to shape the bulgur into a patty that’s about 2 to 3 inches wide.

Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of canola or sunflower oil.

Add the burgers in batches, browning each side for about three minutes. Use a wide spatula to gently flip the burgers. You can also press down on them while they cook, making the patties slightly thinner and more likely to hold together.

Place the cooked burgers on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

The burgers can be served hot or cold. You can also freeze them, then defrost in the microwave for about 2 minutes before eating. If warmed up in the microwave, they tend to crumble just a little bit.

More of my veggie burger recipes you might want to try:

Quinoa Garbanzo Burgers with Cheddar
Bulgur Burgers with Kale and Sweet Potato
Bulgur Burgers with Kale and Feta

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