I have conflicting emotions whenever I go into a restaurant and see they have a veggie burger on the menu. On one hand I get excited – hoping for a hearty, flavorful patty made in-house by someone that understands not all vegetarians are out to eat fat-free, gluten-free, low-sodium rabbit food. I mean I’m going there for a burger after all. On the other hand I get an overwhelming feeling of cynicism, as I know I’m much more likely to be presented with one of those mass-produced hockey pucks from the freezer aisle of the local grocery store. Then on another hand (I can have three hands; don’t judge me) I’m just thankful there is a vegetarian option at all. One thing I can always count on though is a super delicious veggie burger made in my own kitchen.
For me, a well-crafted veggie burger needs to hit on three major points: pronounced flavor, contrasting textures, and the ability to make me lean back and pat my belly in sated bliss upon consumption. Having the recipe be quick and easy certainly doesn’t hurt either. This vegan patty whips up in the food processor in just a minute or two, but then it meets all of my requirements for an excellent burger as well. When paired with the olive and tomato relish, a smear of bright lemon basil pesto, and warm feta cheese (or not if you’re vegan) it all comes together into a savory, complex combination of flavors that truly satisfies a rumbling tummy.
There are two key factors that contribute to the texture of these burgers. Obviously one of them is going to be the ingredients. I blend farro into the mix for a nice bit of chew throughout, and at the last minute I also add in roasted, salted pumpkin seeds for just a little bit of crunch. The second factor is properly combining the ingredients. Don’t go crazy and pulverize your ingredients into an nondescript, beige paste. Small pieces of chickpea, bits of chewy grain, and whole seeds will give your burger a much nicer bite. When your patties are formed you should be able to identify most of the recipe’s components. If it looks like a chunk of slice-and-bake sugar cookie dough you’ve definitely gone too far.
- 1 15oz can of chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup cooked farro (I use a pre-cooked farro/rice blend by Village Harvest, but whatever hearty grain you have on hand should work fine)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 rounded tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon egg replacer powder or corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Salt, to taste (amount varies depending on whether you’re canned chickpeas are salted – I used about 1/4 of a teaspoon)
- 1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
- Place everything except for the pumpkin seeds into the food processor and pulse until combined, but still chunky.
- Add pumpkin seeds and pulse a little bit more. I personally prefer most of the seeds to remain intact, so one or two quick blitzes does the trick for me.
- Divide mixture into four equal pieces and shape into patties. If desired you can cover and transfer to the refrigerator to cook later.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil or cooking spray in a nonstick skillet and sear your patties on each side.
- Serve on toasted bun with tomato olive topping (recipe below), pesto spread, greens, and if you’re not vegan, melted cheese (I used a blend of havarti and feta).
- 16 cherry tomatoes, diced
- 8 kalamata olives, minced (about half the size of your tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Fresh black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in bowl.
- Serve on top of your burger.