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In the Kitchen With Ricky: Walnut oat burger patty is a tastier, healthier vegetarian option

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 14, 2022

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

While we are experiencing some of the shortest sunlight days of the year, we’re bound to feel a bit down at times as our bodies are missing vitamin D and time outdoors. I take a supplement and make sure to start it in early fall, but I still experience low energy and drive at times that seasonal affective disorder can have on any one of us.

During this time of year, it is important to try and be a bit more conscientious about eating healthier and consuming more whole foods and less processed ones. Easier said than done! But the foods we consume can contribute to our overall mental health. There are certain foods that can uplift our mental health and help us battle those winter blues.

Berries, probiotics (kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, buttermilk), oatmeal, leafy greens, oily fish, nuts, eggs, mushrooms, bananas and dark chocolate are some of the foods that can help us be healthier and happier. The meals you can make with the above are endless, and I hope this helps you get creative while we wait for the ground to thaw a bit and the days to grow longer again.

The recipe this week uses many items from the list above. It also is vegetarian, not vegan, as the recipes includes eggs, but it can be adapted by using an egg replacer. By no means do I miss the meat in this “burger” patty, but it also isn’t trying to be meat. It is a healthy alternative to the heavily processed veggie patties in the grocery store, and I think it tastes much better.

Once cooked, the walnut oat burger patties can be crumbled and reheated with additional seasoning as a filling for tacos or in place of ground beef in spaghetti sauce. You can also turn the burger patties into meatballs for a fun take on a vegetable meatball sub or as a topping on pizza.

Walnut Oat Burger Patties

1¼ cup walnut pieces

¾ cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

½ ounce dried mushrooms (optional) *

2 eggs, beaten

⅓ cup oat milk, or other nondairy milk

1 small white onion (or ½ medium), finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon paprika

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Canola oil, for lightly frying

1½ cups mushroom or vegetable broth

Toast the walnuts and oats in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes, remove and let cool.

Using a food processor (or blender), blitz the cooled, toasted walnuts and dried mushrooms until ground. Add in the toasted oats and pulse a couple times just to incorporate (you still want the oats to remain mostly whole).

Mix with all the other ingredients except for the oil and broth.

Let the burger mixture sit in a fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors deepen and the moisture to be absorbed.

When ready to cook, divide the mixture into four patties.

Place the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, until shimmering.

Lightly fry for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Gently add the broth, in the center of the pan, and bring to a light boil.

Reduce the heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve atop burger buns with all the fixings or another grain like rice or quinoa.

Yield: 4 patties

* Dried mushrooms add a nice depth of flavor and an almost meatiness to this recipe, and they can be found in the produce section of grocery stores. If you don’t want to use dried mushrooms or can’t find any, add 1/4 cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs as a substitute. Mushrooms soak up moisture, and breadcrumbs do, as well.

Local award-winning chef and Rind and Wheat owner Ricky Webster can be reached at ricky@rindandwheat.com. Follow him on Instagram @rickycaker.

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