As an Iowa farm kid, I grew up eating pork, beef and chicken, with the occasional seafood and venison thrown in. But I appreciate the principles of “Meatless Monday,” a non-profit initiative of the Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its goal is to encourage people to reduce their meat consumption by 15 percent, or just one day a week, to improve their personal health and the health of the planet.
The effort has a noble history. Presidents Wilson, Truman and Roosevelt advocated for meatless days during both world wars to reduce consumption and help feed war-ravaged Europe. According to Meatless Monday’s website, “By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.”
Going meatless a day or so per week also makes room for more vegetables, grains and other interesting foods. Here’s a recipe I particularly like, linked from the Meatless Monday website courtesy of Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen.
Chickpea burgers with mint raita
For the chickpea burgers:
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 shallot
- 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup mint, minced
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 4 whole wheat burger buns
- 1 tomato, sliced
For the mint raita:
- 1 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup mint leaves, minced
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
To make the chickpea burgers: Place the walnuts in a small sauté pan over low heat. Toast, stirring frequently, for three to five minutes, or until the nuts are brown and fragrant. Chop the walnuts well and season with salt, to taste. Place the shallot and garlic cloves into a food processor. Pulse until minced. Add the chickpeas, mint and parsley to the food processor. Season with the salt, cumin and paprika. Pulse to combine and distribute the ingredients evenly.
Transfer the chickpea mixture to a large mixing bowl. Fold in the toasted walnuts, breadcrumbs and egg. Form the chickpea walnut mixture into four patties, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Place the oil in a skillet over medium heat or prepare the grill with a light layer of oil. Cook on both sides, for three to five minutes per side, or until both sides are well browned.
To make the mint raita: Whisk the Greek yogurt, mint, lemon juice, garlic and salt together in a medium bowl.
To complete the recipe: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees or keep the grill on medium heat. If you’re using the oven, toast the whole wheat buns in the oven for about five minutes, or until the buns are toasted. Place the browned chickpea burgers on a baking sheet and let them bake in the oven while the burgers are toasting.
If you’re using a grill, toast the buns for about five minutes on the grill. Place the browned chickpea burgers back in the grill for five minutes while the buns are toasting.
Place each chickpea burger onto a toasted bun bottom. Top each with a slice of tomato, a spoonful of mint raita and the toasted bun top. Enjoy!