I love these burgers. I hate these burgers. After several batches that were either too crumbly, dry or bland, I had just about given up on them. Finally (finally!), on my last willing attempt, they turned out just right. I was still mad at them for giving me so much trouble along the way, but I couldn’t keep these burgers from you. They’re too good.
The concept came to me last month, when a new publication requested a new veggie burger recipe. I wanted to make a falafel veggie burger. You might think that you could just make bigger falafel and call it a veggie burger, but I vividly recall making bigger versions of my baked falafel way back and that didn’t work at all. The small falafels are perfect, but in larger form, they’re gummy on the inside and require far too much chewing to get down. Nope, those just won’t do.
I decided to base the burgers off my sweet potato and black bean burgers, which are my idea of a perfect veggie burger, and pull in flavors from the baked falafel. I’d use cauliflower to lighten up the texture so the burgers aren’t so dense in the middle. I turned them into “rice” (basically, just cauliflower pulsed into little pieces in the food processor) à la Laura’s cauliflower veggie burgers.
Then I used chickpeas instead of the black beans and added extra parsley, cumin and a dash of cinnamon. Covering the patties while they cook in a pan on the stove helps the cauliflower cook through and lose its distinctive raw flavor. Bingo! Perfect falafel veggie burgers. I hope you agree. I haven’t tried cooking these on the grill (I think the patties will need to be chilled beforehand so they hold their shape), so please let me know if you give that a shot.
- ⅓ cup uncooked quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
- ½ large head of cauliflower, broken into florets (to yield ¾ pound florets)
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas)
- ½ cup chopped green onion (white and green parts)
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- ½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1¼ cups old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free burgers)
- Suggested accompaniments: toasted hamburger buns or English muffins, hummus, tomato, pickles and lettuce
- To cook the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander, then combine with ⅔ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then drain off any excess water and set aside to cool.
- To prepare the cauliflower: Transfer the cauliflower florets to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until they resemble a couscous-like texture, about 15 pulses. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Keep the food processor bowl handy because you’ll use it again soon.
- To the mixing bowl, add your cooked quinoa, chickpeas, green onion, cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil, cumin, salt, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Use a potato masher or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. You need to mash up those chickpeas so the burgers hold together.
- Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.
- Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If the mixture is still too dry to shape into patties, mash it until it does. If you have time, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results (the patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first).
- Shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out ½ cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3½ inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with seven.
- Pan fry the burgers: Heat 1½ tablespoons oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cover and cook until the patties are golden brown on the underside, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip, add a splash more oil, cover again and repeat with the other side. Add at least 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.
- Transfer cooked burgers to a plate to cool. Serve as burgers or on salad.