Being frugal, eating well and reusing! Who wants to see their food going to waste? I certainly don’t and I am not one for extensive food planning either. I prefer to get creative with leftovers and give them a little push to make them go a little further. My second challenge for the VIMA gourmet food blog competition asks for a dish that re-uses yesterday’s ingredients to create a scrumptious dish that no one could guess it has been reheated. As promised, it’s all about the chickpeas!
So imagine you cooked a huge pot of chickpea soup, it was delicious. But chickpeas are filling and you cannot contain their wholesomeness the next day. Having the same over and over again is, indeed, boring. I do not blame you, variety in your dinners does spice up every day life. It’s the small details that break routine into wonderful little parcels of taste. So I am going to be re-using my chickpea soup, and turn it into delicious chickpea burgers accompanied by a sharp red onion chutney, to add this little extra.
A couple of days back we were celebrating our national holiday, 28th of October, marking the beginning of WWII in Greece. Over here, with unemployment on the rise and the crisis bringing a huge restraint in everybody’s budget we often touch the topic of meals during the Occupation. Perhaps a grim comparison as scarcity of resources then pushed the boundaries of poverty to extremes and the problem was one of famine.
The historian Eleni Nikolaidou in her book Starvation recipes documents the diet of Athenians during the Nazi Occupation, the scarcity of the pantry, the resourcefulness of people, and also provides some incredible recipes. Maiz flour, for bobota, a quick pie, later replaced by Carob tree flour and ground chickpeas for coffee.There were only raisins and petimezi, grape molasses, as sweeteners, a very rare commodity. An impossible situation, we could never put ourselves in their shoes, just feel grateful for what we do have now and learn not to waste it.
There is also the older generation, my grand-mothers’ generation who experienced Occupation as kids. The ladies hardly comment on how they were sustained in these difficult times. It was a generation who was brought up on very little. Even after the end of the WWII housewives resourcefulness was put to the test to make the family meals go a long way. A limitless source of inspiration for me. When food production was still mainly seasonal and to a large extend this still applies to Greece – you don’t quite find exotic guavas in our farmers market – preserving food was of the essence and so it was keeping a full larder. They made their one tomato pastes and preserves, they cured olives and the fruit was turned into delicious jams and the famous Greek spoon sweets. They also appreciated pulses much, much more. Which leads me back to the chickpeas.
The past few weeks I have pushed my chickpeas to their limits. I subjected them to mashing, crushing and squeezed a dozen different ingredients to make the patty, for burgers! I tried combining them with other pulses, too Moroccan; I blended different spices, almost ended up loathing cumin, too oriental for my pallet and a little heavy to digest. So what I actually went for was the traditional Greek chickpea fritter, adapted for burger. The recipe for the chickpea fritters is no secret, Grandma Dina was always making a few with the leftovers from her chickpea soup. Gently mashing chickpeas with a fork, a few herbs added to the mix and a quick deep fry. Herby yumminess on a plate. I went for something a little healthier, I replaced the deep frying for a quick pass over the pan and I also added a lovely red onion chutney for sharpness. And put them in buns, because burgers are all the rage. Here is what you will need:
For the chickpea burgers
- 300 gr boiled chickpeas
- 1 small bunch of spring onion
- 12-15 fresh mint leaves
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp of flour
For the chutney, adapted from the recipe of Fraser Doherty, the Jam Boy (he loves his grand-ma too!)
- 8 medium red onions
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 150 gr brown sugar
- 150 ml balsamic vinegar
- 150 ml red wine vinegar
How to make them:
For the burgers
- Drain the liquids from the chickpea soup and keep approximately 1 tbsp of broth for every 150 gr of boiled chickpeas.
- You can either mash your chickpeas with a fork, or put them in your blender for a quick spin. Make sure that chickpeas are not completely mashed into purée, you want to maintain some body.
- In a large bowl add the mashed chickpeas, finely chopped spring onion and mint leaves, salt and pepper and 1 egg. Mix well and let it sit in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Form the chickpea patty into burgers the size of your buns.
- Add a dash of olive oil on a non-stick pan and cook your burger on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes each side.
For the onion chutney:
- Cut your onions in thin slices and put them into a pan with the sliced red chilli and bay leaves.
- Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until dark and sticky
- Add the sugar, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid have a thick, syrupy consistency.
- Pour the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and let cool. To sterilise, put clean and dry jars and lids on 150 oC for 15-20 minutes.
The chutneys are amasing especially when they mature in flavour. It would be ideal if you could store in a dry, dark place for a month. Once opened it keeps in the fridge and it has one year of shelf life.
If in a rush or with no chutney leftovers, you can make caramelised red onions
- Add the sliced onions with a splash of olive oil on a well heated pan and cook for 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat and add the sugar and balsamic vinegar.
- It takes approximately 20 minutes for the liquids to form a thick, chutney like consistency.
I hope you enjoy the chickpea burger!It was a real treat.
If you can spare a minute there is this competition running. Click the image below to be redirected to the competition page, every like is a vote 😀
UPDATE: The competition has now ended – thanks for following through, check my last competition post here.
From Athens with love,