Vegan Burgers + Avocado Crema

Do you ever eat something and think to yourself “this is really good, but I could make it better”?  This happened to me recently at a staff appreciation BBQ. The hospital where I work hosts a staff appreciation BBQ every year, where the upper management grill burgers for all of the front-line staff. Since it is against my religion to say no to a free lunch, I was there with bells on. On that day I opted for the veggie burger option, and while I dug in with my other hungry RD colleagues, I thought to myself:

“This is good, but I bet I could make it better”. 

I spent the next two weeks reading every veggie burger recipe on Pinterest. I wanted one that contained actual vegetables, as well as a protein source (preferably beans). After reading the 30th recipe I thought I had the ratios of vegetable to protein to flour about right. So I went to the kitchen and go to work.  

My first attempt resulted in soggy, mushy messes that stuck to the pan and oozed out the side of the burger bun. 

My second attempt was a dry, crumbly, mouth full of dust. 

But third attempt was closer, but not quite. 

And finally, on the fourth try, I got a recipe that was juuuuuust right. 

So yeah, I’ve been eating a lot of veggie burgers lately. 

Below is my version of a veggie burger that is juuuust right, and better than the one I had for free at the hospital BBQ. This burger is made even better when topped with avocado crema, which you are going to want to eat on pretty much everything (Burritos! Eggs! Oatmeal?) from now on. 

Enjoy!  And keep living that Food Life. 

Veggie Burgers with Avocado Crema 

Serves 6 

Ingredients

For the avocado crema 

1 ripe avocado 

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 

1/4 cup cilantro, leaves and stems is fine 

Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste 

Salt, to taste 

For the veggie burgers  

1 tsp olive oil 

1 small yellow onion, chopped into chunks  

3 cups fresh spinach  

2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas  

1 1/2 cups chopped, cooked sweet potato (I used roasted, or you can microwave a large sweet potato until soft)  

2 cloves garlic, minced  

1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems is fine  

Juice and zest of 1 lime  

1 tsp cumin  

1/4 tsp cayenne  

3/4 cup all-purpose flour  

2 tbsp coconut oil, or other oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado or canola  

Directions 

To make the avocado crema, combine avocado, yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

To make the burgers, start by heating the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Then, add the spinach and cook until wilted. 

Add the onion and spinach mixture, as well as the chickpeas, sweet potato, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice to the food processor, and process until a coarse meal forms. You may have to add a bit of water if the mixture isn’t coming together. The mixture should be moist but not wet. (I used the same food processor bowl as I did for the avocado crema and just scraped it out really well). 

Transfer the veggie burger mixture to a large bowl, and stir in spices and all-purpose flour until well combined. The mixture should be a bit sticky, but not too wet. Form the mixture into six patties, about the size of your hand. 

Once the patties are formed, you can separate them with wax paper or parchment and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. If freezing, I would let them thaw before cooking them. 

Add the coconut oil or other oil to your skillet (you can use the same skillet as you did to wilt the spinach), and heat over medium heat. Once hot and shimmery, add the patties, being careful not to let them touch, and cook them until brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately on your favourite bun, topped with a generous dollop of avocado crema.