What to CookSummerVegetarian CookingBurgers

A Toasty, Summer-Ready Vegetable Burger That's Ready in a Jiffy

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A year and a half ago, I ripped out a quinoa burger recipe from Bon Appetit. It sounded tasty, calling for grated zucchini and meaty mushrooms for depth of flavor, and smart, too: roasted and mashed sweet potato would act as a binder, precluding the need for eggs.

Ingredients turn to assembly in a pretty short amount of time! Photos by Alexandra Stafford

I’ve intended to make these burgers many times since spotting the recipe, but ironically it’s the recipe’s clever eggless binder that’s held me up—I never can remember to budget in 45 minutes of sweet potato–roasting time. One day I will, but in the meantime, I’ve been taking a shortcut, borrowed from an old Cannelle et Vanille recipe for quinoa and sweet potato cakes, which calls for grating a sweet potato, then cooking the shreds for three minutes.

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Photo by Alexandra Stafford

The BA-CV combined recipe come together very quickly: As the quinoa cooks, sweet potato wedges and cremini mushrooms pass through the shredder attachment of a food processor, then get sautéed with a minced shallot or onion. Once the quinoa is cooked, which takes no more than 20 minutes, it mixes with the vegetables, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, minced parsley or cilantro, bread crumbs, and eggs. The patties fry stovetop for three minutes a side. To up the veggie factor, I’ve been smearing hamburger buns with mashed avocado and topping the patties with quick-pickled onions and sprouts or greens.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

As the summer produce season progresses, I’m looking forward to adding grated summer squash, substituting carrots or beets for the sweet potatoes, and topping the burgers with zucchini pickles and homemade relishes and chutneys. If I really find a rhythm, perhaps roasted and puréed eggplant will act as a binder, precluding the need for eggs—a girl can dream, right?

The baking sheet is for portioning—not baking!
The baking sheet is for portioning—not baking! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

A Few Tips

Condiments: Don’t feel you have to load the the patty itself with every vegetable you have on hand. You can up the vegetable factor by topping the patty with pickles, salsas, and spreads, too. Food and Wine recently printed a stunner of a veggie burger, calling for layers of roasted vegetables and a homemade ginger-carrot ketchup.

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Waiting to be united with bold condiments
Waiting to be united with bold condiments Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Gluten-free: Swap out the panko for gluten-free bread crumbs or use almond meal. Serve the patty without a bun, on gluten-free bread, on a grilled or roasted Portobello mushroom, or in a lettuce wrap.

Bulking it up: Beans, legumes, nuts, lentil-walnut crumble will all make these patties more substantial.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Spices: Veggies burgers take well to bold spices: Smoked paprika, toasted and ground cumin or coriander, or minced chipotle in adobo would all work well here.

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Sweet Potato & Mushroom Quinoa Burgers

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Serves 6
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 shallot or small red onion, minced to yield about 1/3 cup
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 5 to 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, about 8, or 1 portobello
  • 1 medium sweet potatoes, about 11 oz, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into wedges, see notes above
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely minced parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • buns, mashed avocado, quick-pickled onions, optional, for serving, see notes above
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