In Search of the Perfect Burger…


Sometimes it seems everyone is seeking the perfect burger, a quest that often begins with premium, grass feed beef.  Not this time.  Here’s a burger built around brown rice and veggies for nutritional impact, with mushrooms and cashews adding a savory richness. If you are foresighted enough to have  leftover rice on hand, you can have these burgers on the table in half an hour. They cry out to be fried in a bit of good oil, but for a lower fat version, brush them very lightly with oil and bake in a 375º F oven 15-20 minutes on a side. Serve on a quality whole wheat bun, or a multi-grain ciabatta roll, as pictured.


(Makes four 3 1/2-inch burgers)

2 cups cooked brown rice (preferably short grain)

1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped

1 medium carrot, trimmed

1 celery stalk, trimmed

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)

7 or 8 (about 6 ounces) medium-sized crimini or regular mushrooms

1 cup roasted cashews or sunflower seeds (cashews will lend a richer flavor)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated swiss or mozzarella-style soy, vegan or dairy cheese of choice (I used a vegan cheese, and they tasted great)

2-3 teaspoons soy sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 teaspoon herbs de provence or mixed Italian herbs (optional)

salt and black pepper to taste

1. If you are not using leftover brown rice, put the rice on to cook: bring 2 1/2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add 1 cup washed short grain brown rice.  Cover, return to the boil, then simmer on very low heat for 55 minutes.  Ideal rice for these burgers is a bit softer and stickier than usual.

2. Set up the grating tool in your food processor. Grate the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and mushrooms.  Then sauté these veggies in a little oil in a frying pan large enough to hold four good-sized burgers (might as well use the same pan!).  Add a little soy sauce, salt and pepper and sauté on  low heat until most of the moisture has evaporated and everything is tender and savory, about ten minutes.

3. Insert the blade into your food processor, add the cashews and chop them. Then add the veggies and rice and process until well mixed. (If using leftover rice, you may need to add a tablespoon or more of water to help everything stick together.) Add the herbs and the ketchup, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding soy sauce, salt and pepper as needed.

4. Form into four 3 1/2-inch by  one-inch thick patties.

5. Wipe out the fry pan, add oil and get the pan very hot before adding the burgers (a hot surface helps the burgers form a crust rather than sticking to the pan, but turn down the heat to medium/high once the initial crust is formed).  Fry on each side 3-4 minutes or until a deep, burger-like brown.  Serve with your favorite burger toppings and condiments. Although these are a great stand in for hamburgers, they’re a bit too delicate to cook on a grill, alas.


5 responses

  1. Thank you Gary, once again. These are indeed perfect. I served them with a mango-avocado salsa, which went well. Also served your Thanksgiving Roasted Butternut Squash soup and Mashed Potatoes (plus salad) for a delicious ‘Gary’ dinner. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

  2. I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but I’ve made this recipe twice now and both times the mixture comes out VERY soft and sticky. The first time I tried just frying them in oil, the second time, I browned them in olive oil and then transferred them to a cookie sheet to bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. They still came out very mushy. They taste good, just so soft. I am wondering if I should try chopping the cashews in the processor and they just mixing everything together in a large bowl? Maybe I am overprocessing the mixture?

    • Sara, It may be that your rice is a little too wet to begin with (the correct ratio of water to rice is difficult to specify, because rice, pots, and cooking conditions can vary a lot). Also, try processing only half the rice, then mixing that in with the processed rice and veggies. Often when making various kinds of burgers and croquettes I do find that they have a firmer texture if I process only half the ingredients, rather than all the ingredients. I haven’t made this recipe recently, but I believe it worked well for me the last time I tried it. Good luck! Gary

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