I don’t know about you, but looking at these pictures is making me super hungry. I can almost see the flavors radiating from each level of this vegan masterpiece. The cherry on top is my newest obsession. Everything from pizza to pasta to burgers is getting the cashew cream treatment these days. It’s rich, it’s decadent, and it’s almost impossible to believe that it doesn’t contain dairy. But it doesn’t. I swear. Soaked cashews, water and sea salt. That’s it. Except, that is, for my secret ingredient – roasted garlic. The roasted garlic in this dream sauce makes it totally over-the-top amazing. It adds the “omg, that sauce is amazing” element. This sauce makes everything it touches turn to pure gold.
The cream sauce, however, is not the only element of this veggie burger that blows minds. Roasted beet hummus simply combines two of the great things on earth, beets and hummus. Slightly sweet, classically savory, plus its hue is a stunning rich pink color, that gets particularly rich after roasting the beets before adding them to the hummus. But this hummus doesn’t need to be beet hummus. Hummus is a great topping on any veggie burger at any time. In fact, hummus can pretty much go on anything and any time because it’s nothing short of godly. To be honest, I created this veggie burger from what I already had laying around the kitchen. This isn’t a perfectly formulated veggie burger/topping combo, it’s just three different delicious things that get even more delicious when piled on top of each other.
Last but not least on this pile of deliciousness, the burger. I can make veggie burgers 100 different ways. And I’m constantly working on new and improved burger recipes. This one is one of my culinary school go-tos with a base of brown rice and beans, flavored simply with onions, garlic and neutral spices. To form the patties, I pretty much food process everything together, except the cooked rice, which I stir in at the end, giving the burger hearty texture and some stability. Corn meal is also stirred in at the end to further bind the patties together and soak up excess moisture. I like this veggie burger recipe for this my beet hummus and herbed cashew cream burger because the cashew cream and the hummus bring unique and powerful flavors to the table (no pun intended), so a neutral, yet still flavorful patty works very nicely. For example, I also used this same recipe to form mini meatballs which I served on Super Bowl Sunday with vegan buffalo sauce and my yogurt-based blue cheese dressing. So many possibilities!
So I hope I got your “veggie-centric-cooking” juices flowing, or at the very least made a veggie burger look totally irresistible. The important thing is that I tried.
Best of Basic: Brown Rice & White Bean Veggie Burgers
Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 1.5 hours
1.5 cups cooked brown rice (yield from roughly 1/2 cup dry brown rice)
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for browning burgers)
1 yellow onion, peeled and small/medium-diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 pinches crushed red pepper flake
2 14-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked beans)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons corn meal (or any variety of flour)
for fresh herb cashew cream
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours, drained and rinsed
1 head garlic for roasting (you can use 2 raw cloves instead, peeled roughly chopped)
3/4 cups fresh water (I like to use boiling water for this, not necessary though)
a handful of fresh, green herbs (I used 20 basil leaves)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain (plus more for roasting garlic)
for sandwich assembly
1 cup beet hummus (get my recipe here), store-bought hummus works too
6 burger buns, I LOVE Vermont Bread organic potato buns
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Make brown rice according to package instructions.
Prepare garlic for roasting. Cut the garlic width-wise, 1/4″ from the flat end of the bulb. Drizzle olive oil over the cut portion of the bulb and season with 2 pinches of salt. Using a large square of aluminum foil, wrap the garlic bulb tightly so that it returns to its original form and is held in place by the foil. Place in hot oven for 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before unwrapping foil and squeezing the roasted cloves from their skins.
Begin making veggie burgers. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add diced onion, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat in oil. Cook until onions begin soften, 3 minutes. Add oregano, thyme, dried parsley and crushed red pepper flake. Cook until onions are beginning to brown, 3-5 more minutes. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add beans, granulated garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to processor. Process until mixture comes together, keeping some texture. Transfer mixture to bowl, set aside.
Make cream sauce. Combine soaked cashews, water, 3-4 cloves roasted garlic (or 2 cloves raw garlic), salt in food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. I scrape the bowl periodically too. If using a high power blender, the blend time will be slightly shorter. Once smooth, add basil leaves and blend until the cream sauce turns a light shade of green. Add more water if desired.
When rice is finished cooking, add to onion mixture along with cornmeal and fresh parsley. Mix to combine using a spatula or your hands. Add additional salt to taste.
Heat a skillet over medium heat with enough oil to lightly coat the pan. Form bean and rice mixture into 6 equal patties. Griddle patties for 2-3 minutes per side or until brown. Work in batches if necessary. Finish burgers in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on size of patties and desired texture.* Be mindful that over-cooking will dry the burgers out.
Build burgers. Add one burger patty to the bottom half of each bun. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of beet hummus and 2 tablespoons of basil cream before adding the top bun.
*for a softer/moister burger, stick to a shorter cooking time – for a firmer burger, cook longer
**reheat from fridge – 375 degrees, 15 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered