I am not a vegetarian. The closest I have ever been to eschewing animal protein was not eating red meat for a few years in an attempt to be more healthy. Now with little effort or without even noticing, I can go weeks on a vegetarian diet. I simply find vegetables more interesting in certain preparations than meat, and that is often the case when it comes to burgers. A good veggie burger can be just as satisfying as a real burger as long as it is not trying to imitate meat.
Whether a combination of grains, pulses or beans, veggie burgers have a tender texture and deliver complex flavor. For these quinoa veggie burgers, I formed the mixture into small slider-sized patties. The quinoa gave the mashed beans a subtle bite, and the red pepper relish added a fresh zip. This burger is a starting point for other veggie variations. Next time I might swap out the cannellini beans for black beans, add cumin and chili powder and top with salsa.
Quinoa Veggie Burgers with Red Pepper Relish
Adapted from Saveur
Makes 8 mini burgers
For the burgers
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 cups baby arugula, blanched, shocked, squeezed dry and finely chopped
1-15 oz. can great northern or cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and mashed
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the relish
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed, seeded, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
8 small hamburger buns or dinner rolls, split
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the carrot and onion until they start to turn soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the onion and carrot mixture, arugula, beans, quinoa, breadcrumbs, oregano, egg, salt and pepper. Form 8 equal patties about 3 inches in diameter by 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the patties for at least 20 minutes.
For the relish, combine the parsley, lemon juice, cumin, red pepper and onion. Let the mixture sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
To make the burgers, heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Cook the burgers flipping once for 6-7 minutes until they are lightly browned on both sides and cooked through.
Place the burgers on the buns and top with relish.