Can I just say, I am so glad the days of rubbery and bland veggie burgers are over and that they are finally getting the reputation they deserve as delicious and substantial! It always confuses me when I order a “veggie” burger, and there is not one vegetable in it. Don’t worry; that is not what you’ll find here, as there is a huge helping of chopped onion, celery, and carrots packed into these patties. These little sliders are so flavorful that they don’t even need a topping (though the herbed ricotta is a delicious touch). The burgers themselves are vegan, so omit the ricotta or replace it with herbed cashew cream if you want to keep the whole meal dairy-free.
I used Minnesota wild rice in this recipe as an ode to the wonderfully chilly state but also because of wild rice’s nutty flavor and nutritional benefits (it has even more fiber than brown rice). For the binding agent, I forgo an egg for a sweet and savory paste made from dates and tahini, which complements the rice perfectly.
I prefer to make sliders since a smaller patty tends to hold its shape better, but you can also form full-size patties if you’re cooking them on the stove top. To cook the burgers on the stove, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil per burger in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Cook, covered, for 4 minutes on each side or until browned and warmed all the way through. —Shelly Westerhausen
garlic cloves, minced
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
dried basil or dried oregano
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
wild rice, rinsed
vegetable stock, plus 1/4 cup
large yellow onion, finely diced
celery stalks, finely diced
carrots, peeled and finely diced
garlic cloves, minced
Medjool dates, pitted
slider buns, split
In This Recipe
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, garlic, parsley, basil, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
In a large saucepan (with a lid) over high heat, combine the wild rice and 4 cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and sauté until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and fold in the chopped dill.
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the tahini, dates, oregano, cayenne, mustard, and remaining 1/4 cup vegetable stock and blend until smooth.
Add the tahini-date paste, the bread crumbs, and the sautéed vegetables to the bowl with the wild rice and fold together until combined. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Using your hands, shape 1/4 cup of the mixture into a ball and then gently flatten into a patty that is about 1-in thick. Transfer the patties to a plate and continue to form patties with the remaining mixture. Cover and refrigerate the patties for up to 24 hours or cook them right away.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat.
Arrange the patties on the grill, cover, and cook, flipping once, until warmed through, 12 to 15 minutes.