I want you to close your eyes and imagine a veggie burger. Yes, do it right now. What do you see? Is it a frozen, perfectly hockey-puck shaped gardenburger with no real discernible taste? Yes, that it what I used to see too. I've eaten my fair share of those and never thought they were bad, but I never thought they were great either. I've never called myself a vegetarian, but I believe the majority of my veggie burger eating days were during a phase of being deathly afraid of getting mad cow disease in middle school/junior high. Even last year I kept a box of frozen patties in the freezer for days when I couldn't think of anything else to eat for lunch. But like I said, they were never anything to get excited about.
Those days are over, thanks to the Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health. There are five burger recipes, all completely different. I already posted about the Spinach Tofu Burgers and now I bring you the Tempeh Quinoa Burgers which are made primarily out of two of my favorite things: quinoa and sweet potatoes. They come together easily and are great to freeze and reheat later, and let me tell you, having homemade veggie burgers in your freezer is one of the greatest ideas of all time (probably second to Joy the Baker inspiring me to keep frozen cookie dough balls in there too). Plus, did I mention that these are delicious and nothing at all like the bland variety found in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. Make these once and you'll never go back.
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups thinly sliced peeled sweet potatoes (I used about 1/2 to 2/3 of a large sweet potato and roasted the rest with rosemary and thyme as a side)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup minced bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
8 oz tempeh, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste, ketchup, or tomato salsa (I used ketchup)
1 tbsp dark sesame oil (optional)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I think I forgot the cilantro this time, if you don't have any, you can skip it)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I skipped these because I was out)
Preheat the Oven to 375 degrees. I also recommend chopping and dicing everything beforehand, it will save you a lot of hassle.
Rinse the quinoa in a fine strainer and combine with the water and sweet potatoes in a sauce pan. Add 1/4 tsp of the salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the quinoa is soft and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
While the quinoa and sweet potatoes cook, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, the rest of the salt, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell peppers and garlic, cover, and cook for another 3 mintues. Add the tempeh, oregano, black pepper, and soy sauce, cover, and cook for 7-8 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
When the sweet potatoes and quinoa are finished, mash them in the saucepan and then add to the bowl with the vegetables (Note: The quinoa/sweet potato mashed together is delicious on its own. I plan to make this as a side for another meal someday). Mix in the ketchup, sesame oil, mustard, and cilantro and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. Then shape the mixture into burgers (1/2 cup each) and sprinkle each side with sesame seeds. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until firm and golden, about 35 minutes.
Serve in a pita, on whole grain toast, rice, or salad greens. Top with guacamole, avocado, or anything you'd like. It is your burger after all.