Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers
Sweet potato makes a brilliant binding agent in these vegan burgers. Add whatever extra veggies you fancy!
Makes: 5 • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: 20 mins
Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers
I have discovered my new favourite way to make veggie burgers: quinoa and sweet potatoes!
It’s notoriously difficult to get veggie burgers to stick together, which means that a lot of them end up either in pieces on the grill, or dry and crumbly in your bun, which makes them tricky to eat. Usually you need to use a binding agent to help to hold your burger mixture together; my go-to binder is a beaten egg. Egg works fairly well as a binder because it firms up as it cooks and glues everything together. But, since it makes the raw burger mixture fairly wet, it can be tricky to shape it into your archetypal round burger shapes.
Perhaps you could try adding curry powder and sultanas for an Indian-inspired quinoa burger, or black beans and corn for a Mexican-style version
Plus, using eggs means that my veggie burgers can’t be considered vegan. It doesn’t matter too much to me, since I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian rather than a vegan (which just means that I eat eggs and dairy products), but I like to cast as wide a net as possible with the recipes I develop, , so if I can find a way to make a recipe vegan, that can only be a positive in my eyes.
After experimenting with various combinations, I’ve found the perfect vegan binder for my veggie burgers: mashed sweet potato. It’s soft enough that it produces a moist burger (no crumbling here), but firm enough that it holds everything together and allows you to mould your burgers into the perfect shape. Adding quinoa with the sweet potato helps bulk out your burgers and gives them a more interesting texture, as well as a more varied nutritional content.
With the base of your vegan burger set, it’s time for my favourite part of any recipe: the mix-ins! The sweet potato and quinoa mixture makes a fantastic base for all sorts of burgers, vegan, vegetarian – hey, maybe the forq community can even find a way to incorporate it into meat-based burgers – and you can add whatever additional ingredients you fancy in order to flavour the mixture however you like. Perhaps you could try adding curry powder and sultanas for an Indian-inspired quinoa burger, or black beans and corn for a Mexican-style version.
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You can be as creative as you like with your quinoa burgers, but there are a couple of small caveats.
First, don’t make your mix-ins too enormous, or they’ll disrupt the integrity of the burger and you’ll end up with that crumbliness we’ve been trying to avoid. If you do want to use anything chunky, make sure you chop it up somewhat before adding it to the burger base. As a general rule: black beans are small enough to use whole, but if you want to use kidney beans, give them a bit of a mash first.
Second, make sure you’re not adding anything too wet to your sweet potato and quinoa mixture. Cherry tomatoes, for example, should be deseeded first, and perhaps even cooked to help evaporate some of their liquid (as well as chopped up, of course–see caveat #1!). Similarly, if you go for vegetables that produce a lot of liquid when cooked (like mushrooms or spinach), it’s worth cooking them first to avoid serving soggy quinoa burgers that won’t impress anyone.
You can make most things work in your quinoa burgers as long as you follow these general rules. For this recipe, I kept it fairly simple, with some onion and garlic (my true loves, and the base of so many of my recipes!), some red chilli for a bit of a kick, and some spinach (because who doesn’t need an extra hit of iron in their veggie burgers?). I’m loving the frozen spinach in this quinoa burger recipe; when you’re frying it up and mixing it in with lots of other things, frozen spinach works just as well as the fresh stuff. In fact, its fine texture means that it mixes in a bit more easily than the large leaves you buy fresh. If you do decide to use fresh spinach, just chop the leaves finely and make sure you cook it until it’s fully wilted and any excess liquid has evaporated before adding it to your sweet potato and quinoa mixture.
And of course, as with any other burger, these sweet potato and quinoa burgers are best served in a crusty bun with heaps of salad (and avocado!), and a generous smear of your favourite condiment.
What mix-ins would you add to your quinoa burgers? I’d love to hear your creative ideas! Share them with me over on the Forq app so I can give them a try!
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Boil the quinoa in plenty of water until the quinoa is soft and the spiral-shaped germ has detached. Drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes. I cooked mine in the microwave for around 6 minutes, turning them over every couple of minutes, until soft. Alternatively, you could bake your sweet potatoes.
When the potatoes are soft all the way through, cut then in half and scoop out the flesh – you should end up with around 1 cup of sweet potato flesh in total. Discard the skins or keep them for an alternative purpose.
Combine the cooked quinoa with the sweet potato, and mix well. Set aside.
Heat about 1tbsp of the oil in a frying pan, and add the onion, garlic, chilli and spinach (I added mine straight from frozen). Cook over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and the spinach has fully defrosted. If there is any excess water, continue cooking until it has all evaporated.
Add the vegetables to the quinoa mixture, and mix thoroughly. Season to taste.
With clean hands, shape the mixture into burgers. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, and add the burgers. Cook over a medium heat for several minutes, until the undersides are crispy, then turn them over and repeat with the other side. Cook the burgers in two batches if you need to.
Cooking the burgers in the pan
Serve with burger buns and salad if desired.
The final masterpiece
- 80g (~1/3 cup) quinoa
- 450g (~4 small) sweet potatoes
- 3 tbsp oil, divided
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 mild red chilli, finely diced
- 1 handful frozen spinach
- Salt & black pepper
To serve: Burger buns, salad, avocado, etc. (optional)
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Who’s Cooking Today
Becca Pusey is a freelance recipe developer and food writer based in Hertfordshire, UK. She blogs over at Amuse Your Bouche, where she shares her favourite simple vegetarian recipes using everyday ingredients. She aims to show that vegetarian food can be just as easy to make, just as satisfying, and just as tasty as any meat dish. Oh, and she likes cheese, a lot.
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