Quinoa Burger

Lately I have felt like I’m in a food rut. I know I have experimented with a few things, but they felt the same as many other things I’ve made. Between work and school and the pets, I just haven’t felt it. But after a week off work, a weekend away and getting a bit ahead on school, I wanted to make something different. Something that I don’t ordinarily make, but I wasn’t sure what.

Earlier in the week I made quinoa tacos. I love quinoa tacos and think Dana at Minimalist Baker is pretty much a genius with vegetarian recipes. I have raved about the quinoa taco meat and stand by my belief that the quinoa taco is better than a regular meat taco. I made tacos earlier in the week, and I even experimented with the leftover taco meat and tried to make quinoa mole enchiladas. These were … edible. Not good. Just edible. I didn’t even save the leftovers. The sauce was good, the filling was good, it just seriously did not come together well. Even after the mole enchiladas I still had quinoa taco filling and I decided to try my hand at a veggie burger with it.

I looked at recipes before starting this, but none seemed like something I wanted. There was always an element that looked off to me, so I decided to wing it and invoked the experiment rule. (The experiment rule in our house is simple – the food is an experiment and if it isn’t good, we order pizza. No forcing ourselves to eat something that is terrible just because.) Bob was game.

Here is the thing about any veggie burger – they are not hamburgers and the goal is not to replicate the taste of a hamburger. You will never convince someone that it is a hamburger or that any grain/vegetable burger tastes “just like” a hamburger. They are different species. Tigger is never going to be mistaken for a lion or a tiger no matter how I cut his fur or dress him up like one. (Not that I would do that to the boy, but you get the idea.) A veggie burger isn’t about making something to mimic a hamburger, it’s about making something to replace the hamburger. I want flavor and texture, but not the same flavor and texture of a regular hamburger.

So … I started with a cup of the quinoa taco meat. I had increased the spice level a little – adding more garlic and chili powder when I made the enchiladas, but in general, it was just the quinoa taco meat. I took one can of while beans and mashed them with a fork in a bowl. I added the quinoa and some shallot and carrot, chopped. I decided a little binding would be helpful and used some panko bread crumbs and one egg. I mixed it all together, took 1/2 cup of the mixture and made patties. Since it was time to feed the pets, I stuck them in the freezer just to give me a little time and so Arthas would not try to steal them. (I will fully admit to being pretty excited that these looked like veggie burgers; there may have been a little squealing involved.)

To cook, I pressed each patty into a little bit of panko and then pan fried them in some light olive oil. I think the key to these was not touching them – no checking, no moving around the pan, just let them cook and flip only once. I got a nice crisp crunch on the outside and then inside was lighter than most veggie burgers I’ve tried. The flavors came through and I have to say – total success. I loved these and Bob did too. He said it was my best effort on a “burger” and we both devoured them. (For serving, I used an onion roll from the grocery store and topped the burger, after tasting it plain first, with a little BBQ sauce and served the whole thing with a cucumber tomato salad and potato chips. Never said this was a healthy meal, but it was good).

Recipe: (makes 5 burgers),

  • 1, 15oz can white beans
  • 1 cup quinoa taco meat
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (plus more for coating if desired)
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • oil for cooking
  • *salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder to taste

Drain and rinse the white beans and place in large bowl. With a fork, mash. You want them kind of smooth, but still chunky in places for texture. Add the quinoa taco meat and mix. Add in the shallot and carrot (and extra seasoning if using), mix again. Add bread crumbs and 1 egg and mix everything together.

Take 1/2 cup mixture and form into a patty. Press together. Press into panko bread crumbs, if you are doing this for the extra crunch. Heat oil in a pan and when hot, place patties in the pan. Don’t touch them! Let them cook for a few minutes (about 4-5) on each side, flipping only once.

*I added extra seasoning to the taco filling when I was making enchiladas, so I don’t know the exact ratios I used. I think I added another teaspoon of garlic power and chili powder to the mix, but I also made a double batch. I don’t think more spice will hurt these, and you could also consider some smoked paprika for the smoked/grilled taste, but I would be very careful with that.

** If you don’t have quinoa taco meat, you could probably do this with cooked quinoa, just make sure to adjust seasoning to give the burger enough flavor.


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