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the veggie burger of my dreams ❤

“Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. And we must pay attention. We must act. This little corner of the world is ours to transform. This little corner of the world is ours to save.”
-Stephen Cope (seen in this month’s Yoga Journal)

I think that’s about all I have to offer you today, other than the recipe of course. These lettuce-wrapped veggie delights made my little world quite bright when I finally got the ratios, salt/spice levels, stickiness etc to my liking. The patties have everything that hippie dreams are made of essentially. There’s brown rice, millet, tamari, nutritional yeast, chopped up tempeh, grated veg, the whole tree-hugging vibe thing. This is no instance of beef burger mimesis and it’s not a heavy-topped/”ultimate” veggie burger kinda scene either (sometimes those are great though). It’s a little giving/crazy moist, crunchy-golden-crispy on the outside and super flavourful in a way that doesn’t suggest animal protein, which is ideal for my own taste. Most importantly, the burger can stand alone. Of course I wouldn’t let it, but this seems important to mention. I served it up with a sliced ripe mango, lots of sriracha, sweet pea shoots and tiny, pungent red onion slivers. Balanced, handheld and lovely.

I lettuce wrapped these because I’m feeling that kind of lightness lately. I have about a jillion things on my plate these days, but I’ve been trying to go gently into Spring in a full body + mind sense. Hope you’re all being good to yourselves in your own corners of the world as well :)

tempeh, brown rice + millet veggie burger recipe
special equipment:
a food processor
serves: 6-8
notes: I leave a lot of room for mods here because I know everyone’s spice/ingredient needs are different. Also, I would highly recommend refrigerating the patties for at least an hour before cooking them to let them set up all proper. I haven’t tried grilling these, but I feel like that endeavour would be unsuccessful. Sauté all the way, guys. (If you try baking or grilling or some other method, let me know how it goes)

patty ingredients:
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup nuts + seeds (I used walnuts + sunflower seeds)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/2 cup grated vegetables (I used carrots + golden beets)
3/4 cup roughly chopped tempeh
1.5 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp GF flour blend (or wholewheat, spelt etc)
2 tsp organic, non-GMO corn starch OR arrowroot powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1.5 tbsp ground spices (I used za’atar, ancho chili powder + Old Bay seasoning)
1/4 cup chopped herbs/greens (I used thyme + arugula)
salt + pepper
1-2 tbsp water

assembly ingredients:
grapeseed/coconut oil for sautéeing
1-2 heads of butter/bibb lettuce, washed and leaves separated
sriracha
sliced ripe mango
red onion slivers
pea shoots/other sprouts
+ anything else you like!

Combine the millet and brown rice with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt. Bring this mix to a boil and simmer until all of the water is absorbed  about 15 minutes. The grains will still be quite chewy. Scrape the cooked grains into a large bowl and allow them to cool a bit.

In a food processor, combine the nuts/seeds, garlic, chopped onion, grated vegetables and tempeh. Pulse the mixture a few times until a moist + chunky paste forms (doesn’t that sound great?!?). Scrape this mixture into the large bowl with the cooked millet and brown rice.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl except for the water. Stir everything together until thoroughly combined and the mix resembles a thick paste. It should hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary to bind it at this point and mix one more time.

Form the mixture into 6-8 patties with your hands. Place them on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, cover them in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for at least an hour. If you want to freeze these babies, place the covered tray in the freezer for an hour or two to firm the patties up. Then individually wrap them/place all of the patties in a large zippy bag for maximum storage capacity.

To cook: Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom with grapeseed/other neutral oil (like a 1/4-1/3 inch? you could also spray the pan with oil if you have a misto thing). Gently transfer 2-3 patties to the pan and sauté until golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the patties over and cook until golden on the other side, another 3 minutes. I kind of nudged the patties up against the sides of the pan to brown them all over as well. Repeat with remaining patties, while you keep the cooked ones warm.

Serve the hot veggie patties with lettuce wraps, toppings etc.

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No bread in burges – I like it a lot. I could eat as many as I wanted as it’s healthy and looks so delicious. Great idea and amazing pictures.

forkandflower24/04/2013 - 5:19 am

words can’t express how much i love this… i want to do this, like, asap, or right now? but somehow i’m stuck in the office today… schmeh. thanks for the inspiration!

sarahsscribble24/04/2013 - 7:22 am

I adore this! healthy but slightly indulgent all at the same time! Like you, often I seem to have a million things on the list of LIFE and a recipe like this often makes everything so much better….

Love.

Scribbles xx

Jeanine24/04/2013 - 8:42 am

Love it with all those greens, yum! Gorgeous photos…

carly morgan24/04/2013 - 9:02 am

OKAY- this is the veggie burger of MY dreams!! looks too good. can’t wait to remake :) ps- i NEVER follow recipes, and always come up with em on my own but this one– i am so down for!!! xx thank ya! ps- gorgeous gorgeous photos!

Sara24/04/2013 - 9:26 am

Really want to try this. I am always scared to try recipes for patties of any type as they fall apart on me no matter what I do, but it’s worth trying again! Just started trying tempeh and am a huge fan.

Caitlin24/04/2013 - 9:44 am

this is certainly a veggie burger with a little bit of everything in there! i love the lettuce wrapping, too. no need to weigh down this beauty with bread.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar24/04/2013 - 10:01 am

This looks fabulous! Love the photos you took too :)

Alexa24/04/2013 - 10:38 am

I am always looking for sandwich and burger recipes without bread– this is perfect! beautiful photos as well!

Ashley24/04/2013 - 11:07 am

Ummmm. I don’t even know where to start so I’m going to make a LIST for this comment. 1 – You had me at (hello) “veggie burger of my dreams” and “tree-hugging vibe thing.” 2 – Brilliant using tempeh! Haven’t tried that yet. 3 – I want your quartz counters. 4 – I love that your wooden spoon is charred on the end. ALL of my wooden spoons are charred. 5 – The tray setup made me think, “breakfast in bed,” but how awesome would, “burgers in bed” be!? You know, after a mid-afternoon nap. 6 – Lettuce wraps. Mmmhm. 7 – Perfect lighting. 8 – You kind of rock. Let’s be best friends.

Julia24/04/2013 - 12:14 pm

lovely little post. sweet pics. rockin’ burger!! i think i may actually have all of the ingredients on hand to make these!! pumped. thanks :)

Kathryne24/04/2013 - 12:51 pm

That is the most perfect quote for today, Laura. And talk about the veggie burgers of MY dreams—I love how you wrapped them in lettuce. Veggie burgers with big buns are just too bread-y for me. Gotta try these asap.

Michelle24/04/2013 - 8:02 pm

This looks incredible and your photography is amazing! I just started eating vegan two months ago and am still in search of a good veggie burger recipe (they all seem so focused on black beans!) I can’t wait to try this out <3

eliza24/04/2013 - 9:26 pm

Just found your site and it’s stunning! Thank you!

Liren25/04/2013 - 12:56 am

Yes. I’ve been craving more lightness, so these veggie burgers wrapped in lettuce feels so right.

thelittleloaf25/04/2013 - 8:24 am

I was veggie for nearly 10 years and never once did anyone serve me anything as fabulous looking as this. Now I eat meat and fish, but I still love the look of this – on my to make list!

Kimberley25/04/2013 - 12:53 pm

These photos are EXTRA dreamy. As are these burgers. LOVE.

carey25/04/2013 - 5:39 pm

Oh yeah, love me a veggie burger that tastes like actual grains and veggies, not pretend meat! My poor parents (having been vegetarians for the past several decades) were super excited many years ago when they first started hearing about vegetarian patties and such showing up on the grocery store shelves, only to be disappointed by the fact that most of them were trying to taste like meat. My dad has been bugging me for years to come up with a good homemade veggie burger recipe, and I’ve done a few that were so-so. But THIS could definitely be the veggie burger of his dreams too! :D

sara forte25/04/2013 - 8:16 pm

um, of my dreams too. I wish I was your lunch date.

Fresh and Foodie26/04/2013 - 9:26 am

Wow. These look wonderful — love the photo styling, too.

I’ve had trouble with veggie burgers holding together in the past, but these look good enough to get me to try again.

Richa26/04/2013 - 1:46 pm

this is indeed the veggie burger of my dreams too.. and the photographs..of my dreams too.. the beautiful millet on the blue, the gorgeous rustic wood, and the delicious burger!

Mallory26/04/2013 - 3:08 pm

I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this looks! I love veggie burgers but they are just so much work. Worth it for sure, but still lots of prep.

Hannah27/04/2013 - 12:28 am

WOWWW. This looks incredible!

Nicola Galloway27/04/2013 - 4:08 am

What a beautiful quote, so true! And the burger sounds fantastic, love the flavour combos. Thanks again for another inspiring recipe.

Brooke Schweers28/04/2013 - 8:37 pm

These scream fresh and healthy. An amazing recipe thank you for sharing :)

Megan Gordon28/04/2013 - 11:24 pm

Holy perfect veggie burger. My boyfriend Sam makes a pretty fine millet burger, but these look like they’d trump his any day of the week. Cannot wait to try. Thank you for another beautiful recipe!

Golubka29/04/2013 - 9:43 am

Can’t wait to try this, just gorgeous!

Jodi29/04/2013 - 10:45 am

Yes. My inner hippie thinks that these sound awesome and that the lettuce wrap is genius. Loving it all.

Daria29/04/2013 - 2:26 pm

These are absolutely delicious! I baked them instead of frying (30 min 425F), they are so tender and juicy and mmm..served in lettuce wrap with avocado and homemade ketchup sauce. heavenly!

Julia29/04/2013 - 6:25 pm

WOW!!! made these for supper tonight.. FABULOUS!!! the whole family loved them. they are delicate, wondering if a bit more flour would have helped them hold together better? regardless.. REALLY, REALLY delicious. i will most certainly be making these again. MUCH thanks Laura :)

sarah29/04/2013 - 10:36 pm

You’re amazing. If I ever find myself with a personal chef, I’m just going to have them cook from your blog. xo

The Wooden Spoon30/04/2013 - 2:15 am

Gorgeous post!!!! I love the newspaper sheet you chose for the photo xxx big love

Elenore Bendel Zahn30/04/2013 - 8:04 am

Tree hugging vibe? Well duh! I’m in pretty lady!

So much love for you in my heart!

Lindsey30/04/2013 - 6:58 pm

what an amazing list of ingredients! sounds just as lovely as it looks.

Joanne T Ferguson30/04/2013 - 10:10 pm

G’day! I’ve never cooked with millet before, TRUE!
What a healthy, exciting veggie burger this is and LOVE your photo/staging too!
Cheers!
Joanne

Pamela Joy30/04/2013 - 10:25 pm

Looks LOVELY!!! My mouth is watering!

Caroline30/04/2013 - 10:25 pm

I’m so thrilled to have found your site! I am always on the lookout for veggie burgers. I love them. Some more than others! This one is gorgeous. I love the combination of ingredients and your presentation is so beautiful!

[…] homemade veggie burger recipe (and every other recipe) on natural food blog The First […]

Sonja / A Couple Cooks01/05/2013 - 10:55 pm

These photos are GORgeous! I love the burger with the greens — but was it hard to eat? I always have problems with unwieldy greens… :)

Laura Wright02/05/2013 - 7:31 am

Hey Sonja! I definitely used multiple lettuce leaves for wrapping them up. Kind of cheating but… more greens, sooo better? :)
-L

tina10/05/2013 - 8:27 am

Yum..I can’t wait to try this veggie burger tonight

Kobi Kenzo13/05/2013 - 5:25 pm

your blog is like a warm comfy comforter on a cold winter day….simply divine!

[…] kind of get obsessed with burgers in the summer. I’ve already made these. And you can bet I’ll be making these and these. If you come back next week, I also have a […]

oven chaos20/05/2013 - 1:55 pm

Thank you for the recipe! Made the burgers with beets, arugula, hemp seeds and smoked tempeh and enjoyed the final result. The taste reminded me of PPK beet burgers. I liked the different ingredients and extra protein in your recipe :)

Lissylu22/05/2013 - 4:40 pm

Really like the recipe, but my burgers turned to complete mush. I couldn’t even cook them. I think it might be because the rice was too wet. Any advice? I’d desperately like to find a good veggie burger recipe, but this seems to always be the problem, they are total mush or fall apart.

Laura Wright23/05/2013 - 1:03 pm

Hi Lissylu,
I’m so sorry they didn’t work out for you. Was the mixture so mushy/wet that you couldn’t even form a patty? If you did manage to form the patties, did you chill them down for at least an hour before attempting to cook them? Did you sub any of the ingredients at all? It sounds like the rice might have been overcooked/there was too much water left in the grains when you mixed them in. I kind of cook the grains to a point where they’re still quite chewy and usually there’s no water left in the pan at that point. If you try them again, I would cook the rice to a point of under-doneness and drain any remaining water in the pot out (although, there shouldn’t be any). You can kind of see in the photo of the mix, that it isn’t terribly wet and the flour contributes to some moisture-sopping as well… Hopefully some of these observations help a bit.
-L

Lissylu23/05/2013 - 4:09 pm

Thanks for your insight! I was able to form patties, but just barely, really really soggy patties. I did chill them for over an hour, but they were still so soggy. I cooked the grains using the measurements you suggested, but i do think they were still too wet when i added them, maybe i should have let them cook a bit longer to absorb all the water. The only thing i subbed was flour for most of the yeast since i didn’t have enough yeast. I’ll try again and will let you know!

25 Gourmet Veggie Burgers17/06/2013 - 1:29 am

[…] Lettuce Wrapped Veggie Burger – The First Mess […]

[…] that the words “grilling” and “meat” are inseparable? Have a look at Lauras veggie burger or the jerk-style veggie grill and be convinced […]

Katy @ Katy's Kitchen30/06/2013 - 7:07 pm

I made these the other day and they were absolutely fantastic. I probably tripled the nutritional yeast because I really wanted that cheesy flavour. I had them smothered with avocado and they were really wonderful. I also used tempeh that was pre-marinated in sesame garlic sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

Kai15/07/2013 - 12:42 pm

I made these first time for a cookout — though the recommendation is to sauté these, it’s July in DC and we don’t cook indoors this time of year ;-) Came out perfect — wrapped the grill in foil just in case, but the held together just fine… I only omitted the water, used gram masala, chili powder + old bay, & regular flour. Tripled the recipe for a batch of 18, folks have been raving ever since. Will definitely add to my veggie burger go-to recipe list…

Laura Wright15/07/2013 - 9:28 pm

Loving that foil-wrapping suggestion, Kai! Glad they worked out :)

[…] Here we have served the burger in a dark sourdough walnut bun from our favorite bakery. But we also often wrap it up in a cabbage leaf. Or serve it between to pieces of dark danish rye. If you want a dairy free burger you can replace the feta with tofu. Or you could do these Beetroot & Millet Burgers that we posted waaay back. If you want an entirely vegan burger you could always make our Portobello & Peach Burgers. Or try this awesome recipe by Laura from The First Mess. […]

Cameron14/09/2013 - 2:03 pm

I’m a new vegan. You are such an inspiration. Your photos are beautiful. Your recipes are awesome (I made your Magic Healing Soup today). Thank you.

[…] veggie burgers from scratch, I was excited. The recipe came from an award-winning vegetarian blog, The First Mess. We accompanied the lettuce-wrapped burgers with sweet potato fries (and evil-delicious vegan […]

Golubka Kitchen14/10/2013 - 11:17 pm

[…] take the prize. I must admit that veggie burgers have always seemed boring to me, but after seeing these two, I became fascinated with the idea of creating my […]

Stephanie04/12/2013 - 11:44 pm

My belly doesn’t do well with fried food so I baked these and they were deeeeelish! I put them on parchment on a baking sheet and baked them at 350 for 45 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Scrum-dilly-icious! Great recipe!

[…] Lettuce Wrapped Veggie Burger […]

maureen pay25/06/2014 - 7:05 am

Hi

From Niagara but now in Toronto so I check the Niag. Review on line. This is how I found you. I was wondering, as I live alone, that it might be helpful to note if some of your recipes can be frozen. I am looking at the burger recipe and it looks very good but it seems to make a lot of burgers and it would be great if I could freeze some for later use. Keep up the good work and thanks.

Maureen

Laura Wright25/06/2014 - 9:13 pm

Hi Maureen! Lovely of you to say hello here. And yes, I like the suggestion on freezing meals and such. Will keep it in mind for the future. As for these burgers, I freeze them all the time. I just shape the patties, place them on a parchment lined tray and freeze them until they’re pretty much solid. From here, I place the frozen patties in a large sealable container or ziploc bag. Thaw before you plan to cook them and all’s good!
Thanks again,
-L

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[…] orange cakeEating… this vegie burger, I hopePlaying… 21 questions with the kidsWatching… this linguist stick it to […]

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