I hear a lot in the blogosphere about the quest for "the perfect veggie burger". It seems like standards are much higher for veggie burgers than regular beef or turkey burgers - they have to have the perfect texture (firm with a bit of crunch to them), hold together well, and have lots of flavour.
I guess I would have to say that while I've made lots of different kinds of veggie burgers, I'm still on my quest for one that meets those high standards! Usually my veggie burgers get good marks on flavour, but they barely pass on the texture and holding together well tests. Somehow I always seem to end up with burgers that taste good but are a bit on the mushy side and crumble easily.
Luckily, I've figured out a couple of tricks to improve on those two veggie burger flaws, and my latest attempt - these tofu sunshine burgers - have both great texture and hold together really well!
For the texture issue, I've discovered that brown rice makes a great addition to veggie burgers to add bits of chewiness throughout. The first time I tried using brown rice in a patty was when I made The Vegan Chickpea's Sunshine Burgers. I loved how crunchy they were from the rice and sunflower seeds, so I used her recipe as a guide for these burgers.
I combined that recipe with one from Canadian Living for carrot, tahini and tofu burgers. A lot of veggie burgers use an egg to bind the ingredients, but in this vegan recipe, the thick tahini and blended tofu help to act as glue to hold everything together, making for a firm burger that's more similar to a storebought patty than the crumbly, mushy homemade ones that I'm used to.
And last but not least, these veggie burgers also have lots of flavour! The spices really come through, especially the curry powder, and the parsley, garlic and tahini add a Mediterranean flair. These work well on a bun or in a pita with lettuce and a creamy spread like hummus, tzatziki, or a tahini-yogurt sauce (which is what I made for mine, shown in the photos).
And if you want even more veggie burger inspiration, Courtney from The Fig Tree recently did a round-up of 25 veggie burger recipes, so you can find some more ideas on her list! I've already tried out one of the methods of wrapping the burger in lettuce leaves instead of using a bun with my leftovers of these burgers - a fresh and tasty way to eat them!
Tofu Sunshine Burgers
Adapted from Canadian Living and The Vegan Chickpea
1/4 cup dry brown rice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 tsp cumin
Dash of cayenne
175g firm tofu (Soyganic sells a package this size, or just use half of a regular sized package)
1.5 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp packed chopped parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the carrot, cumin, and cayenne and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain the tofu and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add tahini, parsley, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry powder (if using). Process just until everything is mixed together. Add the carrot mixture and sunflower seeds and process again briefly. Add the cooked rice and pulse a few times until the rice is mixed in.
Form mixture into five equal patties, pressing down so that they are evenly flat. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until lightly browned and firm on the outside.
Serve warm, with buns, pitas, or lettuce wraps and desired toppings (e.g. hummus, tzatziki, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sprouts).