Cooking Together

Cooking Togther: Homemade Veggie Burgers

By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

Homemade Veggie Burgers – Healthy Comfort Food 

Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

This recipe was inspired by frequently having left-over cooked rice and vegetables in my refrigerator. I add some fresh herbs, salt, pepper, crackers and a protein-rich powder – such as garbanzo flour or quinoa flour – to these left-overs. I make a mold out of the mixture and form into several patties. It is as simple as that!

The addition of garbanzo or quinoa flour (both gluten-free) gives the burgers more texture  to hold the ingredients together. The optional addition of grated cheese makes the burgers richer, but the cheese is not essential. 

After you start making vegetable burgers from scratch, you will never purchase the dense and frozen version that are sold in a package. What’s more, you can use up other leftover items such as cooked beans to make these burgers. 

Veggie Burger Recipe

2 cups cooked and cooled rice (brown or white – a day-old rice from the fridge works, too.) 

1 cup combination of steamed and drained carrots and zucchini chunks (leftover cooked vegetables from the previous day is fine too) – OR – combine ½ cup raw, shredded carrots with ½ cup raw, shredded zucchini 

12 to 14 small rice crackers or wheat crackers

2 green onions (scallions), chopped with some of their greens

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

1 clove of garlic, chopped

¾ cup (or a bit more, as needed) garbanzo or quinoa flour 

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper or a few pinches of cayenne to taste (but not both)

½ cup grated cheese (cheddar, jack or parmesan) – optional 

2 tablespoons cooking oil

6 burger buns or English muffins, or 12 slices of whole-grain bread

Condiments of your choice, such as mustard or ketchup

A few slices  of tomatoes

A handful of lettuce leaves or spring mix, or baby arugula washed and drained thoroughly

If you do not have the left-over cooked rice, prepare the rice using a method that you are comfortable with. Then spread the cooked rice out onto a platter and set it to cool to room temperature. Do the same for steamed vegetables, using a separate dish.  (Leftover rice or veggies from the refrigerator do not have to follow this step).

Place the crackers in the bowl of a food processor and grind it into a fine meal. Transfer the crackers into a mixing bowl. Without washing the food processor bowl, place green onions, cilantro (or parsley), garlic and cooked vegetables to process them briefly. Add them to the mixing bowl with ground crackers. Add ½ cup of garbanzo or quinoa flour in this bowl, saving the rest for later use. Stir the ingredients to mix. 

Next, transfer the contents of all ingredients from the mixing bowl into the food processor.  Add the cooked and cooled rice. Sprinkle in salt and pepper (or cayenne).  Also, add the optional cheese at this point. Process together very briefly – just enough to mix everything.

Transfer the content to the mixing bowl. Taste the mixture to adjust seasoning. Sprinkle some garbanzo (or quinoa) flour and knead the mixture briefly to form a ball. Divide the ball into six portions. Using palms of your hand, form each portion into a round burger that is approximately 3” in diameter and ½ ” thick, adding more flour as needed.    

Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board and place the burger on the board. Adjust the burgers by patting them with your hands to make them somewhat compact. 

Spread two tablespoons of oil onto the bottom of a heavy-clad pan (such as a cast iron skillet) and heat the pan. Place the burgers on the pan without crowding them. (You may have to do this in two batches.) Using a medium flame, cook the burgers on one side for a few minutes and then turn them over to cook the other side. Turn the burgers  again and press each time gently using the back of a metal spatula. Keep cooking and turning a few times until the burgers are browned. 

To serve the burgers, you can use burger buns, but slices of bread or English muffins work well too. For a lighter meal, you can serve the burgers without bread with sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves on top. I like to serve the burgers on lightly toasted English muffins. Warm up or toast the buns, muffins or bread slices lightly. Then spread a small amount of  ketchup or mustard on inner sides of the slices. Next, place the burgers on top. Place sliced tomatoes and a big handful of spring greens or lettuce leaves on each burger. Serve with home-made pickles on the side. (My recipe for easy, home-made pickles can be found HERE.)

Copyright © 2020 by Shanta Nimbark Sachaff 

Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Store on 3930 Judah Street. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and nutrition. She also teaches vegetarian and vegan cooking classes in the Outer Sunset.

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