All I have to say is, what a summer! Looking back, I still can’t believe what I pulled off, and I am definitely glad to have it behind me ;). But actually, first I should say–1. Thank you to all who wished me a Happy 3 year Blogiversary and 2. Greetings from Rwanda!!!
Although I have been to East Africa before, this was my first time in Kigali, Rwanda. As I explained to my friends, the first word that came to mind when I walked across the tarmac after arriving was, this place is poetic. It was nighttime and I couldn’t tell just how right I was. The next morning I felt my eyes were playing tricks on me. One of the cleanest cities I’ve even been in (period, not just in Africa), Kigali was pristine, cloaked in peace and order, even during the morning commute. And there were motorcycles everywhere! The green helmets of motorcycle taxi drivers and their passengers surrounded me and the streets for as far as I could see, making Kigali seem futuristic, like I had stepped into what is to come for the rest of us.
Everyone has been very warm, and I would say one of the most noticeable differences between my stay here and anywhere else I’ve ever been is that everyone, everyone, makes eye contact. Even when I’m riding in the car, the folks on the street are looking in the car, not just at me, but at my eyes. For the typical, ever-avoidant American who doesn’t even make eye contact with co-workers in the hallway, I can see how this could be uncomfortable, but I love it, absolutely love it. There is a human connection hundreds of times a day. It feels like a blessing.
Before moving on to my burgers, I wanted to share one last thing I learned while talking to a man who moved here from Uganda. On the last Saturday of every month, Rwandans go outside and have a community clean-up day. EVERYONE. Everyone knows what area she or he is responsible for and they clean. So, in addition to the cleaning that apparently happens regularly, there’s this community cleaning that everyone partakes in at the same time. This was very, very powerful to me. Actually, it brought tears to my eyes. An entire country, uniting each month, in solidarity, taking pride in their collective spaces. Just beautiful and unfortunately for me, almost inconceivable.
I could go on and on, and probably will in some other forum, but for now, I will leave you with the best quinoa burger I’ve ever made! It’s a bit of a cultural fusion–South American meets Japanese, but it works. And dressed with creamy avocado, end of summer sweet tomatoes, and crisp lettuce, this burger is totally worth turning your oven on for!
Miso Glazed Quinoa Chickpea Burgers
For the Quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 packet instant miso soup
*Rinse the quinoa for 1-2 minutes (this is actually pretty important, it will prevent the quinoa from tasting bitter).
*Add olive oil to medium sauce pan and heat over medium. Add rinsed quinoa and lightly toast for 2 minutes.
*Add broth, pepper, and miso soup packet. Stir. Turn heat to high. Once boiling, drop down to lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Let the quinoa stand for at least 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
For the Burgers:
- ~ 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas–drained and rinsed
- 1/2 small onion–chopped
- 1 garlic clove–minced
- 1/2 jalapeno–diced
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon Tamari
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- black pepper
- olive oil
For the Miso Glaze:
- 1 miso soup packet (tofu and seaweed removed)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon agave
- dash cayenne
- dash ginger powder
*Mix all miso glaze ingredients together. Set aside.
*Add ~ 1 tablespoon of olive oil to saute pan. Add onion and jalapeno. Saute for ~5 minutes. Add garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Set aside.
*Add onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas, parsley, Tamari, pepper, and toasted sesame oil to the food processor as well. Pulse until fully combined. Add the mixture to a large bowl. Mix in bread crumbs and cooked quinoa to the bowl. Mix. Adjust seasoning to taste.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Form mixture into six patties. Slightly grease baking pan with olive oil. Add patties. Bake ~20 minutes. Flip. Baste with miso glaze. Bake additional 15 to 20 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Baste with miso glaze.
*To serve: brush one side with miso glaze and add burger to a bun with your favorite toppings or to greens for a hearty salad. I ate mine with avocado, lettuce, tomato,and mustard–on a bun!