I simply love burgers, especially in the summer. Why this little round creation brings so much joy has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe it’s because burgers are usually served with other summertime favorites. Or they’re sloppy and fun to eat. Or maybe they just conjure up memories of family get-togethers, picnics and barbecues. Maybe they’re all of these.
I grew up scarfing down plenty of these round wonders, never giving a second thought to what lurked inside or how they might be affecting my health. Once I became better educated about food and ventured into healthy burger land, a new lighter version graced my plate and my life. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy a hearty burger now and then. But for everyday living, I prefer lighter plant-based burgers.
I first served these burgers at a dinner I hosted. I wanted to create a healthy and light veggie burger to compliment the other heartier dishes I was already serving. I’ve made many a vegetarian burger in my time but most of the recipes had nuts, beans or rice for the base. I wanted a grain/legume/nut-free burger. Not as easy as it sounds.
I had a couple of recipes which used only vegetable juice pulp. Super clean and healthy for sure, but didn’t think my crowd was ready for that. And my juicer had just gone on the blink so that wasn’t an option anyway. I experimented a little and came up with these still veggie-centric burgers that simply blew away the competition. I was such a happy camper oh and my guests were too.
I used kale as the main vegetable for these burgers. I chose kale because it’s the one of the healthiest and certainly the heartiest of the leafy greens. And since I wanted to use mostly vegetables, it would also help bulk up my burgers and keep the water content on the lower side. Kale it is.
Kale has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. In much of Europe it was the most widely eaten green vegetable until the Middle Ages when cabbages became more popular. Historically it has been particularly important in colder regions due to its resistance to frost. In nineteenth century Scotland kail was used as a generic term for ‘dinner’ and all kitchens featured a kail-pot for cooking.
Kale is often called the ”King of Greens” for its exceptional nutritional values and numerous health benefits. A “hearty” leafy vegetable, it contains less water than many other varieties of green leafy vegetables and has a distinct pleasant flavor which make it suitable as the main ingredient in smoothies, salads and main courses.
Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any foods. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, as well as many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects.
Other veggie rock stars like cilantro, mushrooms, avocado, sun-dried tomato, onion, and fresh corn kernels were added for a complex texture and flavor. I also added some hot spices (oh my chipotle) which gave my burgers that special Southwestern flair. Hemp seeds provided more bulk and extra protein as it always does Spice and Hearth Chocolate Elixir Pudding. Before I knew it my burgers were off and running. By the way, did I mention these are super easy to make? Just process, shape, and dehydrate or bake; 15 minute to prep and it’s a go. Can I say that I love that part?
My little burgers even had their own dressing; a light and refreshing avocado lime sauce. I couldn’t let them go naked now could I? I then added some seasoned raw corn on the cob, sliced onion and chayote. Surprisingly the burgers and sauce were a hit. I say that because I thought my jaded meat-loving bunch wouldn’t enjoy such a light healthy burger. But they were the first to disappear. I am still chuckling at how my guests were checking for remnants after the last burger was taken. Of all the dishes served that day (and there were some doozies), these guys won hands down. Sometimes we underestimate just how much people DO enjoy healthy food.
These burgers are fantastic; spicy and super flavorful with great texture. They can match any burger out there. Okay, maybe I’m a little biased but they are really really good; never mind that they’re meat-free and grease-free. Who says that’s what burgers need to be worthy? I think of this recipe as real fast food: easy to make and easy to indulge in, guilt-free. That’s my idea of convenience food.
I’ve since shared this flavorsome dish with friends and family, and it’s always a hit. I hope you give this recipe a try and pop these amazing homemade veggie burgers on a plate near you very soon. They were meant for you; you were destined to be together. Eat with abandon and gusto only. I think we can all use more burgers like that.
This recipe is raw, dairy/gluten/nut-free and serves 2 – 4 persons.
Southwestern Veggie Burgers w/ Avocado Lime Dressing
- 6 cups chopped kale
- 1/4 cup mashed avocado
- 1/2 packed cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 5 medium-sized brown or white mushrooms (optional)
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or completely thawed frozen)
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion or other onion of choice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (if they are very hard, soak in water until semi-soft, then drain thoroughly)
- 1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds or other seeds of choice
- 1/2 – 1 tsp chipotle powder or smoked paprika
- 1/2 – 1 tsp smoked or plain sea salt
- Add kale, avocado, cilantro, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, hemp, chipotle powder, and salt to a food processor.
- Pulse until finely chopped but still with a little texture. The mixture will be very mushy.
- Add the corn and chopped onion and pulse again just until mixed. You can also place the corn and onion in a mixing bowl and fold in the kale mixture.
- Shape into 3-inch patties. It will still be very moist at this stage.
Carefully place burgers on a mesh dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 – 8 hours depending on how dry you want them. Remove and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be re-heated before serving.
Place burgers on a greased cookie sheet or baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Remove and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be re-heated before serving.
Yields about 4 – 6 burgers. Can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days.
- 2 medium-sized avocados or one large avocado
- 2 Tbsp minced cilantro (optional)
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp honey or other light sweetener of choice (optional)
- pinch of chipotle powder or smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup water or enough water to blend to a sauce consistency
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Yields 1 cup dressing.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 3 days.
- lettuce leaves of choice
- chopped vegetables of choice (I love to use sliced chayote or tomatillos as the bun)
- seasoned fresh corn on the cob
- Add Extras to serving plates.
- Add the Southwestern Veggie Burgers.
- Serve with Avocado Lime Dressing.