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Extreme Vegan Makeover: Chickpea Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce Edition

A couple of years ago, I was perusing Vegan quotes and sayings to share with people on a discussion board. One day I was looking for something light-hearted (there are some really funny Vegan jokes and riddles) and I found this poem. I instantly loved it and looked up the author. That’s how I learned about Ginny Kisch Messina.

Ginny Kisch Messina, MPH, RD, lovingly known as “The Vegan Dietician,” is a dietician and public health nutritionist.

She has co-authored a textbook on vegetarian nutrition as well as the American Dietetic Association’s Position on Vegetarian Diets, and helped develop a food guide for vegetarians and vegans.

Amongst her long list of Vegan and animal welfare activism accomplishments, Ginny is the National Vegan Examiner for the site and is the author of the well-known blog, The Vegan R.D.: Thoughts on Being Vegan: a Dietician’s Perspective. In her blog, Ginny focuses on the science of nutrition and it’s the place to go when you want honest answers to your Vegan nutrition questions. Ginny examines what’s beneficial about the Vegan diet but she just as objectively explores the unanswered questions, never pitching a Vegan diet as a magic cure-all or weight loss plan.

I’ve been a big fan of Ginny’s for awhile now – for her honest, scientific teachings, her smart and accessible writings, her passionate and compassionate activism and the fact that she’s a really sweet person. But it all started with Ginny’s poem which seemed the perfect intro to this Extreme Vegan Makeover recipe.

A Vegan’s Ode To The Chickpea

If you’ve been to a vegan pot luck
Where everyone brings a dish
You’ve tasted six kinds of hummus
Thank goodness it’s so delish.
It’s tasty because it has chickpeas
A very delectable bean
But hummus is just for starters
‘Cuz chickpeas are worldly cuisine.

In Milan they call them ceci,
They eat them with rigatoni
They’re classic Italian food
As famous as macaroni.
When you pair them up with pasta
You get a protein that’s complete.
Oops, what the heck am I saying?
That theory has met with defeat!

If you’re traveling down Mexico way
And the foods are all topped with cheese
Say “quiero garbanzos por favor”
(That means “I want some chickpeas, please.”)
In India they’re made into flour
For fritters and tasty flat bread
But if you prefer plain old chickpeas
You can have them in curry instead.

Chickpeas have great healthy nutrients
Like potassium and calcium, at least
They’re an excellent source of B12
(Well—if you eat them with nutritional yeast)
You may think that you love chickpeas
You’re convinced you’re their biggest fan
But I’ve got you beat by a mile
I eat them right outta the can.

I’m happy that I’m a vegan
I do it for the animals’ sake
I couldn’t be mean to a chicken
I like cows too much to eat steak
So, you can have your eggs and pork chops
You can have your heart disease
I’m choosing ethical eating
It’s easy—‘cuz I’ve got chickpeas.

Isn’t that adorable? Personally, I think Ginny should write an entire volume of poetry with odes to brussel sprouts, quinoa, kale and more.

I love chickpeas too. Even before I went (99%) gluten-free, I started using chickpea flour instead of whole-wheat pastry flour in all of my cooking (white flour is evil!). It’s light and it works in every recipe I’ve tried so far, including baking.

Chickpeas make delicious fries like the ones at Peacefood Cafe and here in this recipe for my incredibly delicious Chickpea Burgers. I served them with a homemade Tzatziki Sauce and my Baked Polenta Fries. Now that’s a meal worth writing a sonnet about!

Chickpea Burgers


2-15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped or grated
1/2 small onion, finely chopped or grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
½ cup chickpea flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. dill
A pinch of cayenne (optional)
2 Tbs. chickpea flour mixed with 2 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. Safflower oil + 2 tsp. Safflower oil


Heat a sauté pan or skillet with 2 tsp. oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the veggies are tender. Let cool.

In a bowl, put 4 cups (or 2 cans) of chickpeas and mash them up with a potato masher. Try to mash them well enough that there are as few whole chickpeas left as possible.

Add the veggie sauté to the chickpeas. Add the spices and mix well. Add the chickpea flour to the bowl.

In a tiny bowl or mug, mix 2 Tbs. chickpea flour with 2 Tbs. of water into a paste (that’s your “egg replacer”) and add to bowl.

Mix it all up very well; I find it’s best to get in there and use your hands. When it’s thoroughly mixed, divide the mixture into patties. This recipe should make 6 large patties or 8 smaller ones.

Add 1 Tbs. oil to a pan (I just wipe out the one I used to cook the veggies) and add the patties. Fry them in batches (or use 2 pans at once) over medium heat – you want to be sure the inside cooks too – about 7 minutes per side until they are golden and crispy. You could also bake them but it takes much longer.

We eat them without a bun but since it’s similar to falafel, you could have them with pita bread or in a lettuce wrap. I also made a Tzatziki Sauce for dipping.

Tzatziki Sauce


2 cups plain non-dairy yogurt (or vegan mayo and/or sour cream). I was out of yogurt so I did a mix of mayo and sour cream.
1 large cucumber, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, grated (or use garlic powder)
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbs. olive oil
2-3 tsp. dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped for garnish

Mix all the ingredients and let it set in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.

Serve 2 burgers per person with your favorite side dishes.


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2 Responses to Extreme Vegan Makeover: Chickpea Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce Edition

  1. Rhea March 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Glad you make the burgers. Hope you liked them!


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