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The ultimate veggie burger

Posted in Food & Entertaining

Veggie burgerYet another veggie burger landed on my dinner table last night. I am on a quest to make the perfect veggie burger, one which is not soggy, cardboard-y, bland or otherwise inedible. I am not trying to approximate meat – I never liked burgers much – but, when we do grill at my house, I would like to be able to serve a vegetarian option (mainly for me) which is not the tired Portobello mushroom.

Good veggie burgers are elusive. Good veggie burgers that pack a lot of protein even more so.
I began giving it some thoughts a few weeks ago, when I had a very good one at a food truck – I tried to guess at all the ingredients in it but it is not so easy to do with food that is essentially ground. I liked that it was not only tasty but had a bit of a crunch on the outside, unlike the frozen ones (I tried most of them) that end up being too moist even when grilled.

Most veggie burgers will hinge around a pulse or a grain, mostly a combination of the two, with spices and a binding agent of some sort. The black bean burger I first made was too dry. The grain only burger was verging on cardboard. That is when I started looking for recipes that tried less to replicate an actual meat burger and yet were not just a fried patty. While I love all sorts of fritters, it was not what I was after.

I dedicated myself to making a burger per week, consulting various vegetarian and vegan recipe books/sites. I nearly hit a home run with a cheese and breadcrumbs version but, as tasty as it was, I wasn’t sure it deserved the burger moniker.

The winning recipe, which is also gluten-free, turned out to be Sasha Wilkins’, from her Friends Food Family cookbook. I followed it nearly to a t, adjusting some ingredients’ proportions and omitting the scallions I didn’t have. Quinoa, which can be found in most veggie burgers, is paired with cauliflower and Parmesan: the quinoa provides the protein, the cauliflower does not add any too much moisture and Parmesan makes most dishes better.

with and without cheese
with and without cheese

RECIPE – Yields 4 burgers

1/2 C quinoa (white or red or a combination of both 80g)
1/4 head of cauliflower florets
1/3 C Parmesan, grated (25g)
Zest of one small lemon
1/2 C Chickpea flour (or regular flour if you are not worried about keeping it gluten-free)
a generous tablespoon of parsley, chopped
2 Eggs

  • Rinse the quinoa under cold water and cook it in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and let cool (don’t skip the rinsing step or the quinoa will taste bitter).
  • Put the cauliflower in a food processor and zap it until it’s crumbs size (Sasha calls it rubble) and place it in a large bowl with the Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add the cooled quinoa, salt again, and mix. Add the eggs and mix with your hands. It will be a very wet mixture.
  • Place the flour in a separate bowl. Wet your hands and form four patties, dip them in the flour and place on a plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a pan and, when hot, add two patties (not more, or the oil temperature will drop too much). Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
    Serve with all your favorite burger trimmings.

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  1. Can I ask a question? I hope I’m not being offensive in any way – can one call a burger “veggie” when it has Parmesan in it? I ask because Parmesan is made from animal rennet, which is a polite way to say “calf stomach’s enzymes.” It’s what made me give up that wonderful cheese :/

    April 29, 2016
    • camparigirl

      I am certainly not offended but you are such a killjoy! Now I have to go research if there is Parmesan made with rennet obtained from animals that were not killed….

      April 29, 2016
  2. As a long-time vegetarian, I’ve eating various versions of cardboard, etc. I’ve done a black bean version and a lentil one recently but definitely plan to make this one since I’m totally in love with quinoa. Sounds delish!

    April 24, 2016
    • camparigirl

      I actually made five – as unable as I am to cook for just two – and ate the last one today!

      April 25, 2016
  3. My favorite was at Stout in Studio City.

    April 21, 2016
    • camparigirl

      A little bit out of my way, but will have to try.

      April 22, 2016

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