One of my ongoing quests is to find the perfect veggie burger.
Here’s a hint: It’s definitely not in the freezer section of your local supermarket. Unless, of course, cardboard is your idea of perfect.
In my opinion, the perfect veggie burger should be really filling and have a substantial texture (like meat). It should have lots of flavor and spices and should leave you not missing meat.
Honestly, I try a lot of different veggies burgers and I rarely post them because I find them to be kind of blah.
To date, my best veggie burger attempt, in my opinion, was the beet burgers I made over a year ago.
I still like those burgers, but I think this brown rice burger might surpass it as my favorite for one simple reason: it’s a lot easier to make! You can use leftover rice and have a very delicious burger in no time.
I’m not kidding at all when I say that I would take one of these instead of probably 95% of beef burgers in the world.
1) For relish, combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. If you don't have a food processor, you can also just dice everything very finely.
2) Cook brown rice according to package and let cool or use leftover rice.
3) Sautee diced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
4) Mix onion, cilantro, and garam masala with rice. Crack in an egg and combine well. Stir in oat flour. You might need a bit more oat flour. Your rice should be firm and stick together if you press it into a ball.
5) Form 4 large burgers with the rice mixture and season each burger with salt and pepper.
6) Cook the burgers in a heavy pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan. Cook until browned evenly on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.
7) Toast buns and serve rice burgers on bun with relish and topped with sliced avocado.
The other nice thing about this burger is that it’s actually incredibly healthy for a burger. No cheese or mayo or anything. For the sauce, I just pureed a few really flavorful ingredients into a spicy relish that was very delicious.
Ideally, just cube up these ingredients and add them to a food processor and pulse them until it’s mostly smooth.
I used one Serrano with the seeds and I thought it was pretty spicy, but if you wanted to up the heat level even more, you could use two.
If you don’t have a food processor, don’t fret. Just dice up the ingredients very finely and you’ll have more of a salsa, but it’ll still be really tasty.
Making the Burgers
The one down side of these burgers is that brown rice does take a while to cook. While you could use white rice for it, I worry that the burgers would end up being a bit bland. Brown rice has a nice nutty flavor that really adds to the burgers.
In an ideal world, you could save a few cups of leftover brown rice for a separate meal and then use it to make these burgers. That would cut your prep time down to just minutes.
Once you have your rice, add to it your sauteed onions (just cook them over medium heat in a drizzle of olive oil until they soften). Also add the minced cilantro and stir this all together.
At this point, the burgers have a great texture and some good backbone flavors going on, but I thought they needed a hit of a good spice.
Enter garam masala! This was the perfect spice for these burgers. These days you should be able to find this spice mixture in most supermarkets.
If you’ve never used garam masala before, it’s a pretty popular spice mixture for Indian food. It normally has a pretty large list of ingredients in it, but almost always has some cumin, cardamon, cloves, and various peppers. It’s good stuff.
Now our burgers should be pretty tasty, but there’s no way you’ll get this rice mixture to stick together as is. So crack in an egg and mix in some oat flour.
You can easily substitute all-purpose flour for oat flour, but the oat flour does add a little bit of extra flavor to the finished burgers.
Making and Cooking
Make a test burger to make sure that the mixture sticks together well. If it seems really sticky, add in a bit more flour.
Once it’s a nice firm consistency, make four large burgers out of the mixture.
Season these burgers with salt and pepper and then cook them in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Cook them for about 4-5 minutes per side until they are nicely browned.
I didn’t try it, but I think you could grill these guys. They were pretty sturdy actually and I think as long as you didn’t mess with them much on the grill, they would hold up just fine.
Serving the Burgers
As always, I’m a fan of a toasted bun for my burgers so I definitely recommend that. Then add a good slather of the relish to the bottom bun.
Check out that color!
Stack on a burger and a few slices of avocado and you’re ready to go!
The avocado acts like a creamy element for the burgers. It’s very essential in my opinion.
Betsy and I both gave these guys two thumbs up and fought for the extras for lunch the next day.
Now, if you are completely set on sabotaging my veggie burger recipe, you could make a beef burger and slap it between this relish and some avocado and still have a pretty tasty thing.
But try it with rice. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!