Monday, January 24, 2011

TVP experiments: Chipotle Black Bean Burgers and Meatless Meatballs

Chipotle-black bean burgerThis was the first test of a new cookbook, Lukas Volger's Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, which I think I found via the Svelte Gourmand blog--it was some food blog or other of the list I read, anyway, and the Amazon reviews looked good, too. I'm always looking for ways to reduce the meat in my diet and not miss it (big carnivore here), and this looked like a possible option.

This first recipe was not an unqualified success. (The chipotle black bean burger is available in the Amazon "look inside" feature, so I'm not going to type it out.) First off, the oven temperature was omitted from the recipe--hitting a typo on your first shot is not a good sign. In a lot of the recipes Volger has you brown the burger on the stove first, then finish cooking it in the oven. The base of the recipe is a mix of reconstituted textured vegetable protein (TVP), cooked brown rice, and bread crumbs, with black beans, corn, and onion for character and chipotle peppers in adobo and lime juice for spice. I omitted the cilantro--I would have searched the garden to see if there was any usable parsley after our snow/sleet cover finally melted, but forgot. I did go the convenience route: canned black beans, brown rice in the pre-cooked bag (would have used Trader Joe's frozen, but I don't have any on hand), and panko.

These formed into patties without too much difficulty, and were pretty easy to brown and then move to the oven. I then had to hold them a little too long while waiting for sister-in-law's call that the rest of dinner was ready, and that probably contributed to my main problem with these: the brown rice was too hard, so the browned crust, instead of being a tasty bit, had these tough grains in it. Flavor-wise the burgers bordered on too spicy--I rounded up on the chipotltes, and should have stuck to the recommended amount. Without the cilantro (or a substitute), the peppers were the main flavoring, and it was a little one-note, I think. All in all, these were acceptable, but not great. I've got some other recipes marked to try, though!

Second TVP experiment was these Homemade Meatless Meatballs. Again some substitutions: I used smoked paprika instead of cumin, and dried basil instead of fresh. I've now got a container of browned meatballs in the fridge for quick meals--tonight's dinner was a handful of them with jarred marinara sauce on top. These are pretty good, overall. They're not going to fool anyone who's expecting ground beef or turkey, but the flavor is not bad, they hold together pretty well heated in a sauce, and are very low fat. I'll send some next door to see if anyone else finds 'em edible.


  1. As a lazy vegetarian, I'm truly impressed you made these! The most effort I put into meat balls are a package of falalfal mix. My daughter in law's mother went to loads of trouble at Christmas and made a vegetarian meatloaf. It was incredible. My husband, who would rather eat beets than meatloaf, loved it. I'll send the recipe if you want.

  2. I'd love to see the recipe--please do send it!

  3. I too try to reduce meat in my diet. One of my favorite books in that area is Mark Bittman's "Food Matters" (check it out at your local library). I've never tried TVP (I'm a little scared of it). I'd rather use other proteins like grains and beans. The picture of the burgers doesn't look too bad though.

  4. @Hanaâ: The TVP wasn't a big proportion of the burgers--they were a base of brown rice. I didn't really notice the TVP in them.

    I love Bittman, and was so sorry to read today that he's discontinuing his Minimslist column. I'm hoping his new venue in the NYTimes magazine will give me as many good cooking ideas as the Minimalist columns did. Haven't got "Food Matters" yet, but my "How to Cook Everything" app on the iPad is getting a good bit of use.