What exactly is Meatless Monday? Why does it matter, and why should we care? Meatless Monday is a grassroots organization which has been around to promote a healthy lifestyle since the days of World War I. It started as an effort to promote restraint towards the consumption of certain items so that those items (meat, wheat, etc) could be reserved to feed the troops abroad. Since 2003, it has been revived by Sid Lerner after he noticed a spike in lifestyle diseases among Americans. Many of these diseases were preventable through healthier food choices. This non-profit simply encourages that you make a conscious effort at the very beginning of your work week to start with a healthy and sustainable meal that will also promote a healthier planet.
This leads me to a very interesting issue that I come across with in the culinary industry; vegetarian cooking. As chefs, we must have an open mind about food. Whether we are herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores (although I highly doubt anyone can be a carnivore and live to be 40), we are chefs because we love food, we respect food, and we want to bring people closer to food. We want them to enjoy it and respect it like we do. That is why I feel very disappointed when vegetarians visit the restaurant where I work and find that they have very limited options available to them. Many chefs will claim that everything must have bacon fat in order to taste good, or that vegetarian cooking is uninspiring and dull. I don”t respect a chef who thinks that way. A chef must always have an open mind and be ready to learn from everyone, whether the teacher is a fellow chef or just a home cook.
I was inspired to make this quick meal yesterday (Sunday) and had my leftovers for Meatless Monday. Although I am not a vegetarian, I strive to eat sustainably everyday and save my meat consumption for occasions when I can learn new cooking techniques from trying a meat dish or when friends and family share their food with me. Food is all about sharing after all. Speaking of sharing, I have several vegetarian friends who are always on the go, and I wanted to share this recipe with them. I prepared quinoa/garbanzo bean patties yesterday. They are extremely versatile because they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer until they are ready to be eaten. They can also be eaten with sauteed veggies on the side or with a pita wrapped around them. Either way, they are very healthy as they are low in fat and high in protein (quinoa is very high in protein).
1/2 cup drained and roughly mashed garbanzos
1 cup cooked quinoa (squeeze out excess liquid)
1/3 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup minced oregano
2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 c greek yogurt (plain)
1/3 cup minced sundried tomato
1/4 cup tahini paste (sesame seed paste) optional
OR 1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper to taste
To prepare mix the herbs into the mashed garbanzo beans. Add tomato, yogurt, and garlic. Mix well then add the quinoa and mix well again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tahini paste if available ( it is not necessary but it does help bind the patty together). If no tahini is available then just add a beaten egg. Now to the fun part. Shape the mix with your hands into small patties about 3 inches in diameter. place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 °F. after 15 minutes check for a golden crust on the top of the patties, turn to the other side and bake another 15 minutes.
I ate these with tzatziki sauce which consists of grated 1/4 cucumber, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tbs minced fresh mint, and a pinch of cumin and salt mixed into 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt. Enjoy!!