Vegetarian Cooking: Not Just a Can of Beans

A group of about twenty BU students, parents, alumni, and staff gathered at the executive kitchen in SMG on Friday, April 15 to learn about the virtues of vegetarian cooking. The event, hosted by Sargent Choice, began with dietitian Sarah Butler (SAR ’06, ’08) presenting information about the benefits of vegetarianism. It continued with a cooking demonstration by BU Executive Chef, Walter Dunphy.

Chef Walter Dunphy preparing black bean burgers | Photo by Patricia Bruce

“For college students, it’s really pricey to eat meat,” Butler said, explaining the positive side of vegetarian living. But Butler also pointed out a common problem among meat-free eaters. “One of the cons is considering nutrient deficiencies,” she explained. “We normally see that among vegans.” Butler gave all the attendants packets outlining vegetarians’ lower risk for high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and several other diseases, as well as the benefits of vegetarianism on the environment. According to the handout, “it takes about 25 gallons of water to grow one pound of wheat, but it takes about 390 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.”

“I think that students are interested in sustainability,” said Sabrina Pashtan, BU’s Sustainability Coordinator. “We’re always expanding our compost.”

The group then headed up to the executive kitchen on the 8th floor of SMG, where Chef Walter Dunphy (and a magnificent view of the city) were waiting to get cooking. For the black bean burgers, Chef Dunphy set aside a portion for the two vegans in the room (the recipe contained eggs and cheese), and explained that the burger would not hold together as well without the eggs, but would still bind with the gluten in the beans.

“Quinoa is the most perfect grain,” the Chef said as he assembled his duo of quinoa salads. “It has the most nutrients out of all.” Chef Dunphy also taught the students about proper knife skills, how to hold a chef’s knife, and the difference between a brunoise and julienne.

“People are realizing healthy food doesn’t have to taste like dirt,” Chef Dunphy said. “People who aren’t even vegetarian are looking for options to be more healthful.” Dunphy used himself as an example of such a person. “I’m not a vegetarian,” he continued, “but I am lazy. I’d grab a bowl of that [quinoa]. It satiates the need for protein.”

While the quinoa salad with dried fruit was a bit chewy (as the fruit didn’t have enough time to rehydrate), both quinoa dishes were quick to make, and easily replicable in any size kitchen. The vegan burgers the Chef set aside were missing many dimensions of flavor, as the non-vegan versions had a smoother texture, and the addition of spicy chipotle mayo and creamy goat’s cheese.

On the topic of vegetarians on campus, Dunphy outlined BU Dining Services concern with providing options. “We make sure that we have a main vegetarian option at all times,” he said. “Many dishes we try to offer also vegetarian.”

“If it’s beef stir fry, they have tofu instead,” Butler added. “We’ve worked with soy cheese on pizza, too.”

All the students seemed to really enjoy the food, and Butler and Pashtan handed out copies of the recipes (which follow below). This event, and the Sargent Choice Night earlier in the semester, both show the importance of healthy food on campus. College cooking doesn’t have to be burgers and fries—it can just as easily be black bean burgers and quinoa salad.

Pashtan also pointed out BU’s upcoming events for Earth Week, including a sustainable seafood event next week. For more information, see Sargent Choice’s Facebook page.

Finished black bean burgers ready to be eaten! | Photo by Patricia Bruce

Black Bean Burgers:

30 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed (2 cans)

1/4 cup Vidalia onion, fine mince

1/4 cup red bell pepper, small dice

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

4 oz goat’s cheese, softened

3 tablespoons light Spanish olive oil

2 cups baby arugula

4 oz red onion, thinly sliced

16 slices of Roma tomato

Rolls of your choice

1. Drain and rinse black beans and place in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mash to a chunky paste. Add the minced onion, bell pepper, pepper flakes, hot sauce, cilantro, salt, pepper, flour, and egg whites. Blend well using your hands, and form 8 evenly sized patties.

2. Using a grill plate or a large non-stick sauté pan over medium high heat season with oil. Cook patties for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until evenly browned and heated through. Place on roll and spread half ounce goat’s cheese on each burger, top with tomato, red onion, baby arugula, and a dollop of chipotle mayo. Serve immediately.

Chipotle Mayo:

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 Chipotle pepper, canned in Adobo, finely minced

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

1. Using the side of a French knife, smooth out pepper on a clean cutting surface and mince. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add mayonnaise, whisk well and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.


A delicious plate of Quinoa Summer Salad and quarter of a Black Bean Burger | Photo by Patricia Bruce

Quinoa Summer Salad with Edamame, Roasted Corn, and Heirloom Tomatoes:

1 1/2 cups dried quinoa

2 cups shelled edamame blanched (usually found shelled in your grocers freezer)

1 cup corn kernels (fresh, but frozen is fine)

1/2 cup Vidalia onion small dice

1/2 cup brunoise of red bell pepper

1 1/2 cup of heirloom cherry tomatoes halved or quartered, depending on size

Zest and juice of two oranges

2 teaspoons extra virgin Spanish olive oil

1/4 cup minced chives

1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt

Coarse ground black pepper

1. In a small to medium sauce pan over medium high heat, add quinoa and cover with 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer and maintain the heat at a simmer. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, adding water if needed. Remove from heat, strain, and rinse with cool water, transfer to a sheet pan and refrigerate.

2. While the quinoa cooks, place the corn on a non-stick baking sheet and toss with half the olive oil and place in a 350 degree oven for a bout 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Check every five minutes, shaking and stirring to cook evenly. Remove and allow it to cool to room temperature.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and serve. Serves 8.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit:

1 1/2 cups dried quinoa

1/2 cup Vidalia onion small dice

1/2 cup brunoise of red bell pepper

1/2 cup each dried cherries, dried apple, dried mango, dried papaya

Zest and juice of two oranges, along with 3/4 cup bottled orange juice

2 teaspoon extra virgin Spanish olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt

coarse ground black pepper

1. In a small to medium sauce pan over medium high heat, add quinoa and cover with 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer and maintain the heat at a simmer. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, adding water if needed. Remove from heat, strain, rinse with cool water, and transfer to a sheet pan and refrigerate.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The flavors will meld and the dried fruits will plump if the salad sits in the refrigerator for a while before serving.

All recipes by Chef Walter V. Dunphy, District Executive Chef, Boston University.

About Joel Kahn

Joel is currently a film major at BU. He hails from South Florida, and started at The Quad writing about food. He is now the publisher of The Quad.

View all posts by Joel Kahn →

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