People often comment on the size of my meals. “Oh wow, that’s a ton of soup! And you’re having that bread too? Wow, rock on” or, “That’s a HUGE sandwich, I’m impressed” or the occasional, “Did you eat that entire pizza?” Yes, I did, okay? I ate the whole damn thing. I’m a small person who needs a lot of food. Get over it. Uffda, anyway, the takeaway from my rant is this: I like big meals. I like the act of eating, so I’m sad when it’s over quickly. Because of this, I like to eat HUGE bowls of soup or BIG sandwiches or, yes, the occasional ENTIRE pizza. BUT, here’s the kicker, I [usually] like to make my large meals full of healthy stuff, like tomato spinach zucchini soup, or sandwiches piled high with avocado and tomato, or pizzas topped with so many veggies you can’t even tell what’s on them. That way, I can just eat the whole damn thing and still be that small chick who eats an absurd amount of food…and maybe the occasional ridiculously indulgent dessert, but that’s another post altogether.
And that brings me to my quinoa burger. While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bag of their new Tri-Color Quinoa, and staring back at me was a recipe for quinoa burgers. I wasn’t feeling the recipe’s black bean/southwest vibe, but the idea of a quinoa burger had gotten into my head, and I wasn’t going to give it up. After all, quinoa is packed with all kinds of healthy stuff, so I could make a gigantic patty, with an awesome texture, and a main ingredient that comes together in 15 minutes. Plus, for someone like myself who’s a bit of a veggie burger aficionado, coming up with a new homemade patty sounded like a fun challenge.
I’m fortunate that the boy is supportive of my random food challenges, and actually enjoys quinoa. Sure, he’ll act skeptical when I serve it, use his sarcastic voice, and make fun of its appearance, but he eats [nearly] as much as me when we have it, so I figured he’d happily hop on board the quinoa burger train…with a bit of an attitude, per usual, but I’ll take it.
Open-Faced Quinoa Burgers
- 3 pieces wheat bread
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
- 1 egg
- 8-ounces fresh mozzarella
- 8 pieces of Texas Toast (or any toast, really)
- 4 avocados, cut in slices
Tear your slices of bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor to make your bread crumbs. Add parsley, thyme, and garlic salt. Mix with a fork and set aside.
Add 1 cup of quinoa to a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the seeds are light brown. They might get really excited and pop around a bit. No worries, that’s a good sign. Toasting really improves the texture and flavor of quinoa, so don’t get lazy and skip over this step. Add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat, pour in the beans, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then mix together. Pulse this mixture in a food processor until smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if you wish.
Combine the bean mixture with the cooked quinoa, add the Sriracha, the egg, and 1/2 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Mix together well, and then use your hands to form 8 patties.
Dredge each patty in the breadcrumb mixture.
Get your oven on the road to 350-degrees, then stick the patties in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
After the 30-minutes are up, cook the patties in the oven for 10 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan, and add the burgers (I had to do mine in groups of 2 or 3). Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crunchy.
At this point the boy walked in my door, and brought inspiration with him. “What if we made some kind of reduction sauce to put on top?” he said. I told him I didn’t have many ingredients, but he could run to the store if he wanted (note: I really didn’t see this happening). He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then flipped his flops back on, and was out the door. He came back and immediately began chopping. He carefully chopped up so many things, even though our burgers were already cooked and ready to go, but you know, I was patient. Sort of.
Impromptu Reduction Sauce:
Note: all vegetables below need to be chopped well
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 4-ounces mushrooms
- 1/2 jalepeno
- 3-4 green onions
- 1/2 shallot
- 1/2 onion
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Once your chopping is done (which, by the way, will seem like an eternity if your burgers are already cooked and you are HUNGRY) add the vegetables to a pan with the butter and oil. Saute for a few minutes, then pour in the balsamic, salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Top each Texas Toast with a slice of fresh mozzarella, and broil in the oven for a few minutes, until the bread toasts and the cheese melts to your liking. Top with a burger patty, avocado slice(s), and the reduction sauce (if you were patient enough to finish it).
In all my culinary veggie burger adventures, this version really tops ’em all (well, let’s be fair and say it’s in a tie for first with the Wild Rice Manwich). After you bite through the creamy avocado on top, you crunch through the garlic thyme breadcrumbs into the quinoa and smooth cannellini base, and then you dig down to the bottom of the sandwich and there’s a big ‘ol slice of melted mozzarella, just hiding there, waiting to be loved. Despite my impatience, I must say that the boy’s reduction sauce makes the sandwich really special; the tangy and slightly sweet topper highlights the other spices in the burger, and brightens the entire sandwich.
It’s one tall sandwich for, well, one not-so-tall girl, but you better believe I killed it. Yes, I ate the whole damn thing. Get over it.