I first shared this recipe back in October of 2015. Somehow, bad photography and all, it endures as one of my most visited blog posts to date.
Since then, not only did I update the photographs to capture an actual view of the burger, I also tweaked the recipe and cleaned up the directions. To anyone who isn't much of a cook, the recipe might seem intimidating as written. There are a lot of ingredients in this one. But if you read through the directions and just focus one step at a time, it's not so bad. Not to mention that this makes a nice big batch that you can store until you next crave a VegeFi Burger. (Keep reading below for tips.)
Years ago during a culinary class, I remember the chef teaching us the key to a good copycat recipe. First, when not privy to the secrets of the authentic version, identify as many specific ingredients as possible through visuals and taste. (In other words, I had to examine and eat a LOT of VegeFi Burgers.) Then shift the focus to overall flavor, adding and subtracting ingredients to find what works. Be willing to make the item over and over, until a blind taste test can't detect any difference between the copycat and the original.
After much trial and error, I believe I have accomplished that here.
One difference worth pointing out - the real VegeFi Burger is vegetarian-friendly only, not vegan, due to the additions of egg and cheese. With my version, a vegan person has the option to omit the cheeses without dramatically changing the flavor of the burger all that much - and egg is not at all a part of my ingredient list. Also, while the original burger is topped with the usual lettuce-tomato-onion, changing things up by omitting the tomato and swapping out the lettuce with purple kale is a tasty alternative.
Another tip I neglected in my original post is how well these burgers freeze. Simply wrap in parchment paper and place in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Then defrost and bake at 400ºF in a toaster oven for 5-7 minutes per side.
I feel lucky that, for the time being, I live just a five minute walk from local shops and restaurants. It's a nice feeling to have convenience packaged into a cute little town only steps away. When a new storefront opens, it's exciting because each one is unique. Just last year, my neighborhood acquired a new BurgerFi restaurant. A little more casual urban than some of the other establishments in the area, it quickly became popular with the local college crowd.
I normally avoid processed fast food, but being new, I had to try it. For all of us health and fitness advocates out there, I'm sad to say...it was good. It was REALLY good. Then on about the fourth or fifth visit, I tried the Crispy Quinoa VegeFi Burger. WOW! I have never had a veggie burger quite like that. For me, it even beat their beef burgers. But while I admire BurgerFi's efforts to use quality, hormone and antibiotic-free ingredients, they are technically a fast food franchise. I tend to feel better not eating there too often. Particularly since their fries are so tempting. However, I really want that crispy quinoa burger in my regular rotation.
For those of us trying to embody fitness and nutrition while still enjoying decent food, here is my healthier copycat version. I won't go so far as to claim it's exactly like the authentic VegeFi burger. Or even as tasty. Though I doubt anyone will be disappointed after biting through the crunchy quinoa crust into the smooth saltiness of the burger, and the tangy remoulade sauce.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup uncooked small green lentils
extra virgin olive oil for cooking
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
12 baby bella mushrooms, finely minced
2 cups red wine
1 cup vegetable broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
1/2 cup freshly grated Fontina cheese, optional
2 cups plain panko breadcrumbs
8 slices white cheddar cheese, optional
8 multigrain or sesame rolls, toasted,
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
8 slices tomato
1 cup lettuce or purple kale leaves, shredded
1 cup vegetarian remoulade sauce, see recipe below**
In a medium-size saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 35 minutes, or until lentils are soft and water is absorbed. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa before adding to the boiling water. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is completely absorbed. Set the quinoa and lentils aside to cool.
In a sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil on medium and add the onion. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the zucchini, carrot and mushrooms. Continue cooking until softened, giving it the occasional stir. Add another pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and transfer the vegetables to a mixing bowl to cool.
Pour the wine and broth into the same sauté pan, add the thyme and bring to a slow rolling boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 of a cup. Add the wine reduction, and the grated cheeses if using, to the vegetable mixture. Then stir in 2 cups of cooked lentils, 2 cups of cooked quinoa and the breadcrumbs. Transfer half of the mixture into a blender and puree. Spoon the puree back into the mixing bowl, and stir until evenly combined.
Pour the remaining cooked quinoa onto a cookie sheet. Use a rubber spatula to spread it into a thin layer. Form the vegetable mixture into 8 patties. Firmly press each patty onto the cooked quinoa layer. Flip the patties over and repeat. Then, gently press the palm of your hand around the edges and over the sides of each patty to ensure that the quinoa completely coats the patties in a thin layer. Brush off any excess.
Clean the sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the patties in small batches, 3-5 minutes per side. Use a thin spatula to gently flip the patties. When both sides are golden brown, add a slice of cheese if using, and cover the pan until the cheese melts. Transfer patties onto toasted rolls. Top with red onion, tomato, lettuce and remoulade sauce.
Vegetarian/Regular Remoulade Sauce:
1 cup vegan or regular mayonnaise
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sweet relish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce such as Annie’s Homegrown Organic & Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Valentina mild hot sauce
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce, or 1/4 teaspoon plain horseradish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 chives, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
Yield: 8 burgers