Now that the kids are back to school, it’s time to make up for all those hot dogs, pizza, French fries and popsicles that pretended to be meals over the summer. For a smooth transition, you might try a veggie burger with oven-baked fries, which has “fast food” appeal with a healthy spin.
Not all veggie burgers are equal. I tried many recipes before I found one that both my kids and I liked. Most recipes use beans and/or rice as the base, which has a specific and sometimes unpleasant mouthfeel. This one uses quinoa as the base, which surprisingly gives the patty a similar texture to ground beef. The egg and cheese give it much needed moisture and the carrots allow you to call it a “veggie” burger instead of a “lots of things but not meat” burger.
You’ll need one piece of special equipment that will make forming the burgers much easier: a ring mold with a press. The ring mold allows you to compress the mixture into a proper burger shape that can be flipped without breaking apart. I’ve made this recipe without the ring mold and it was a hot mess. You can buy ring molds at Migros, Coop, or Manor for about Sfr.10. You can use it for other things like poaching eggs, cutting dough, or fancy restaurant presentation of otherwise sloppy dishes.
Don’t forget all the fixings: bun, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, special sauce. Your kids might not even notice the quinoa patty when it’s all dressed up like a regular burger. I always serve mine with oven baked potato fries. Just cut up some potatoes, toss with oil, salt and pepper, and bake on at 200C for 30-40 minutes until tender outside and crispy outside.
Recipe: Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Quinoa is a grain available at most large grocery stores and all health food stores. I prefer to use red quinoa, which has a firmer texture and dark color that makes the patty look like beef.
Makes 6 to 8 small patties. Adapted from recipe found at Eating Well Living Thin
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked, see note below)
1/3 cup shredded melting cheese (like Tilster, Rahmkäse, Cheddar or Gruyere)
1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 medium carrot, finely grated (or 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed dry)
1 Tbs flour
1 green onion, including white parts, chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Oil for frying
1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients (except oil).
2. Heat a frying pan and a tablespoon oil over medium heat.
Note: With a regular burger, you use a higher heat to get a crisp outside without drying out the middle. But with these burgers, you need cook the patty longer at a lower heat so it has time to set before it burns on the outside.
3. To form, place metal ring mold in hot pan, then spoon in about 1/4 cup mixture in ring and pack it tightly. Then remove ring, let it fry for a few seconds, then gently tap to larger patty size, about 1/2 inch thick. Cook until brown and crisp (about 4 mins), then flip and cook on other side.
To cook quinoa for the above recipe:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1.5 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse the quinoa and drain. In a small saucepan bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Add quinoa and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and the seeds are tender. If the quinoa is tender but there is still extra water, drain and return hot quinoa to pan, replace cover, and let it sit for a few minutes to cool and dry out a bit.
Text and pictures by Tanya Deans
Tanya is a mother of one boy that loves burgers and another boy that will only eat the fries. She hails from San Francisco, the city of food, and tries to infuse that California spirit in her home cooking in Switzerland.