inspiring creativity in the kitchen | the veggie burger, simplified

it is nearly 7am, and to look outside it could pass for midnight. i love these dark, late fall mornings. i have always been a morning person – fresh coffee, pure silence with only the hum of the refrigerator. the mornings are where i find most of my inspiration, i read things with a clear mind and plan out my day.

i love baking, it is a part of nearly every day – trials, errors, successes. but i get asked a lot about what i eat, the meals i prepare. i love to cook, too – it’s a break from all of the measuring and precision, and more so just going with the flow.

if there’s one thing i can’t stress enough about savoury cooking, it’s that THERE IS NO RULES. unlike baking, you can change up a recipe almost completely, leaving only the key spices in place, and the result will be equally, if not more delicious. a lot of recipes for vegan dishes that i read, i find them to be over-complicated. if you’re new to vegan cooking, the last thing you need is an extensive ingredient list that makes you shy away from cooking the dish at all.

the main reason i don’t share savoury dish recipes here often is simple: i very rarely follow recipes myself and i don’t measure. however, i want to inspire you to become more confident when you’re cooking meals for yourself, your family or your friends. starting now, i will share more of my meals with you – giving you tips along the way, a multitude of substitution ideas, etc. it’s time to get creative in the kitchen!!

today i’ve got a “recipe” for you that has become a staple in my house, because it’s simple, adaptable, and quick. i think there is an assumption that vegan meals take longer to prepare (???), and i want to put that assumption to rest. 97% of the time, my meals take 20-30 minutes from start to finish – when i want food, i want it fast and i want it delicious.

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one thing i have shied away from cooking in the past was veggie burgers – any recipe that i looked up to gain an understanding of how they were held together, blew me away with how many ingredients were stuck in them. i was frustrated, and i felt determined to make my own veggie burger, sans recipe. these veggie burgers are beyond simple, and adaptable to your own taste preference. the patties come together with 3 simple ingredients: chickpeas, quinoa and sweet potato. any addition after that is purely for flavour! (if you saw my post about vegan-izing thanksgiving, this is a very similar to my “recipe”  for vegan “meatloaf” patties with homemade ketchup)

i hope you enjoy them.

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Easy Pea-sy Veggie Burgers (with Homemade “Ketchup”)
(vegan, gluten free, soy free)
Yield 4 large patties

Ingredients (basic proportions)

  • ~ 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed. (substitution ideas: black beans, lentils. any sub. should have a drier consistency)
  • ~ 3/4 cup cooked quinoa* (substitute: short grain white or brown rice, millet, etc. nothing too “chunky”)
  • ~ 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed (the sweet potato is the key, as the starch really binds together the ingredients. try subbing regular potato)
  • ~ 1/3 cup quick oats (optional – added to dry up the patties) (sub. oat flour (GF if necessary), quinoa flakes, etc)
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup “add in”: mushrooms**, corn, shredded carrot, green peas, etc.
  • 1 tsp cumin, chili powder (any spice you enjoy – i like mexican flavours, but you can simply go with garlic powder, salt, pepper)
  • 1 tbsp parsley (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste.

*NOTES: * i cooked my quinoa in salted water (follow quinoa-water proportions as your package directs, generally a 1:2 ratio) with about 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric for its lovely colour and therapeutic properties. in general, flavouring your grains while they cook in water is always superior to seasoning them cooked.
** when cooking mushrooms, always cook them FIRST (liquids released by cooking other vegetables will slow the cooking and browning process) – this yields the best mushroom flavour, and allows them to brown without becoming soggy. heat your pan to medium-high with 1 tbsp of oil, drop in your mushrooms and reduce heat to medium. allow the mushrooms to cook down and lose their natural liquid and become golden brown, then add in any other ingredient.

1. in a pan over medium – high heat, cook your desired add ins. mushrooms provide a really great texture and “meaty” flavour to these burgers.

2. in a large mixing bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork, or pulse in a food processor until no large chunks remain. add in quinoa (or other grain of choice), mashed sweet potato, and oats (if using) and stir until very well combined, forming quite a thick paste.

3. add cooked add-in vegetables and stir until evenly distributed.

4. season to taste – i used smokey flavours, but you could use whatever best suits you. try a splash of apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar for something extra special!

5. form the mixture into a large mound in your bowl and use the side of your hand to mark a cross on the top (ensuring the sections you grab will be relatively even in size). form sections into patties, sprinkle with s+p, and drop into a pan over medium heat cooking each side 5-7 minutes, until a desired crust is formed. slower heat = a more cooked center, less crust. higher heat = firm crust, moist middle. (alternatively, for a less moist patty, you could bake these at 350 for 20-25 minutes).

6. serve as desired! i find these patties to be quite hearty and prefer them with a side vegetable, rather than between a bun. as you can imagine, these burgers suggest a hint of sweetness with the sweet potato mix-in, so i like to top them with homemade ketchup (recipe below) or a honey dijon mustard.

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i found that when i became vegan, a lot of condiments left my diet due to a lot of nasty additive ingredients. however, condiments can be a pretty crucial factor of a dish for some people, and this homemade ketchup is a new staple in my house!

Homemade Ketchup
(adapted from here)

  • 5.5 fl. oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (could sub. lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari for GF)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (can use coconut sugar/brown sugar or agave)
  • cumin, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • hint of dijon mustard (optional)

1. in a small bowl, mix all ingredients and adjust to your taste.

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i hope i have inspired you to get into the kitchen and adjust recipes to suit your preferences. if you have any questions at all about this recipe, or perhaps another recipe you have found while browsing the web, i am more than happy to lend advice! you can comment here, or always email me: kelsibarr@gmail.com

happy cooking!

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