Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers

These chickpea burgers are similar to a Middle Eastern falafel. This isn’t like the Americanized version of falafel that resembles carnival food deep-fried in some unhealthy oil. That’s a culinary crime, because falafel done right is so delicious and nutritious. It’s all in the blend. Here the secret ingredient is basmati rice, which holds the chickpea mixture together and creates a complete protein. I love the mini-burger concept; the whole wheat bun is like putting falafel in a top hat and tails, perfect for folks who like the taste of beans when they’re broken down and combined with heady herbs and spices. Gently pan-seared or baked, these burgers are bountiful bites of health. 

MAKES: 17 patties

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or
1 (15-ounce) can, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ground coriander 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 organic egg, beaten
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
21⁄2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
1⁄4 cup loosely packed minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the chickpeas, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, egg, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the rice, bell pepper, and parsley.

Moisten your hands to keep the mixture from sticking, then shape the mixture into 1⁄4-inch-thick patties about 21⁄2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the patties start to get dry and crisp on the outside. They will firm up as they cool.

VARIATIONS: For a crispy burger, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. For a vegan burger, substitute 1 tablespoon tahini for the egg.

COOK’S NOTE: If you want to cook just a few patties, pop them in your toaster oven. To freeze these burgers, either cooked or uncooked, stack them up with parchment paper between the burgers, then wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil. The parchment paper makes it easy to remove the desired number of burgers from the bundle. Once thawed, cooked burgers can be reheated at 350ºF for 15 minutes, and uncooked burgers can be baked as directed here, at 375ºF for 22 to 25 minutes.

STORAGE: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Burgers can also be frozen in cooked or uncooked form for 2 months (see Cook’s Note).

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.