Do you ever make veggie burgers? I posed this question, with a hint of knowing skepticism, to my “food people” over the past month. My favorite response was from Wyatt, who said, “Ya. But they’re a pain in the ass.” Was I ever happy to find a respected peer to corroborate the opinion I formed after a squishy Round 1.
At that point, I had almost decided to bag the veggie burgers from the menu of my upcoming class at the Cancer Support Community. On to Plan B. I’d just make a skillet “melange” of the sweet potatoes and black beans and use it as enchilada filling or something. But I couldn’t forget Kate’s post – her veggie burgers looked fantastic, and even got 5 stars from her readers! On to Round 2.
And am I ever glad! Our dinner the other night was a hit, and received an “8.37” from the panel. Here’s a summary of what I learned:
1. veggie burgers aren’t really burgers. don’t think of them as hamburger substitutes, lose the bun entirely, and consider them for what they are: the crispy, spicy, savory centerpiece of a vegetarian feast
2. veggie burgers are fragile. the smaller the better as you’re trying to cook and flip them in a frying pan.
3. ya, you can bake them, but they are so much better when they have a crispy outside from pan-frying in a little oil.
Thanks to Cookie + Kate, a wonderful whole foods, vegetarian food blog. Her “Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers is my original recipe.
- 3 or 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 15oz. can black beans, rinsed with water and drained
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and lightly packed
- ½ small red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder or smoked hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- olive oil for cooking the patties
- avocado or guacamole
- sour cream
- Roast the sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice each sweet potato down the center, lengthwise. Smear a bit of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet pan and place the sweet potatoes cut-side down on the sheet pan. Roast 40 minutes, or until they give when you squeeze them. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Grind the oats. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and pulse to break up the flakes.
- Mix the dough. Scrape the flesh from the sweet potato halves using a fork into a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, black beans, cilantro, onion, spices, and salt. Mix gently using the fork or a wooden spoon. Mix in the ground oats. If you have the time, put the whole bowl of dough in the refrigerator to chill.
- Form the patties. On a wax paper-lined cutting board, gently shape about ¼ cup dough into round patties, approx. 2 - 3” diameter, ½” thick. I usually get 20 - 24 small patties from a batch.
- Cook the patties. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or other cooking oil, like canola) in a non-stick frying pan set over medium heat. Add 4 or 5 patties to the oil and cook until bottom side is golden brown and crispy, 3 or 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray and continue cooking all patties, adding an additional tablespoon of oil for each batch.
Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips:
- Note: The patties hold together best during cooking if the mixture is chilled. Put the whole bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to several hours.
- Cook quinoa in a rice-cooker or saucepan on the stovetop. Ratio of water to quinoa 2:1. Make in advance, cool and store in a bowl or baggie in the refrigerator.
- Keep the cooked patties warm as you’re cooking the rest by transferring them to a baking sheet pan in a warm oven (300 degrees F).
- I call these patties instead of burgers because I don’t like eating them burger-style on buns (too bready). Think of them as the centerpiece to a whole meal.
- Make it Mexican: serve with avocado, tomato, greens, sour cream and salsa.
- Up the protein: top with a fried egg. (Try it! Sooooo good!)
- Cook them all and freeze some for later. Separate patties with waxed paper and slide into a freezer bag.