Monday, September 28, 2009

Pinto Bean, Sweet Potato, Millet and Sunflower Seed Burgers

(pictured: burger straight from the oven, not crisped in a pan before serving)

I have mentioned before that I prefer to make my own veggie burgers than buy the frozen varieties. This is another version of veggie burger that doesn’t include the typical vital wheat gluten. We have been eating a lot of seitan lately so I wanted a burger that didn’t have wheat gluten. I believe that too much of anything can be bad and try to change what we eat to ensure we aren’t overdoing any one food.

These burgers are intentionally mild in flavor so that they can work with many sauces and veggies. I always make far more veggies burgers than we will eat in a few days. Having these in the freezer makes a quick meal when I haven’t planned. All veggie burgers seem to hold beautifully in the freezer. I refrigerate the burgers until they are completely cold and then wrap them individually in plastic cling film and store them in a larger zippered freezer bag.

Pinto Bean, Sweet Potato, Millet and Sunflower Seed Burgers
Serves 11


2 cups of pinto beans, sorted and soaked
8 cups of water, to cook pinto beans
2 bay leaves
½ cup millet, dry
1 ¼ cup water, to cook millet
12 ounce sweet potato, scrubbed and shredded (including skin if organic)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon cumin seed
2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers (wet hots) - optional
canola oil pan spray


Cook the pinto beans in water with the bay leaves until the beans are very soft. This should take about an hour and half. Remove the bay leaves.

When the beans have cooked for an hour start the millet cooking. Combine the millet and water in a pan with a lid and cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stop cooking when all the water has been absorbed. Allow the millet to sit in the pan undisturbed for 10 minutes so it will continue to steam.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

Shred the sweet potato and move it to a large mixing bowl. Add the pinto beans, millet, sunflower seeds, salt and cumin. Use your hands to knead the mixture firmly. You want the beans to begin to break up in your hands. As you knead the mixture will begin to form a single mass. If the mixture seems too dry add a little of the bean cooking liquid.

Using a half cup measure fill it completely and from it in your hands into large flat patties about 5 to 6 inches across and ½ inch thick. Place the burgers on your baking sheet and continue forming burgers until the mixture is gone.

Spray the burgers lightly with canola or olive oil pan spray. I use a mister that is sold for oil so I can add my own organic oil.

Cook until the burgers are lightly brown on top. Be careful not to cook them so long they dry out. They should be done in about 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate or freeze until needed.

When you are going to serve these I recommend that you crisp the exterior in a heavy bottomed skillet that is lightly coated with oil. Be gentle when flipping these or they will fall apart. The vital wheat gluten (which I omitted this time) is what normally keeps my veggie burgers firm.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 225.79
Calories From Fat (17%) - 38.47

Total Fat - 4.55g
Saturated Fat - 0.47g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 285.13mg
Potassium - 672.88mg
Total Carbohydrates - 36.55g
Fiber - 7.8g
Sugar - 2.22g
Protein - 10.52g


It has been more than a year since I made veggie burgers without adding vital wheat gluten and I had forgotten how tender they are without the gluten. They hold together as long as you are gentle with them but I wouldn’t recommend that you put these on the grill as I expect they would disintegrate. If you want a firmer burger you can add vital wheat gluten (about 6 tablespoons) it does make a better texture.

The flavor is good, but fairly mild. The burgers themselves definitely need a sauce or condiment. Mini slider sized versions of these would be good in a whole-wheat pita with a tofu cucumber sauce and fresh vegetable salsa.

Sunflower seeds are a nice crunchy component of the burger. I also like that they add healthy phytosterols that fight cancer. The shredded potato adds a light sweetness to the burger.

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