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Friday, April 8, 2011

Tempeh Burgers with Coconut and Cilantro


Coconut, cilantro, ginger and garlic work so well together.
You may not expect to find these flavors in a veggie burger,
but here they taste just right.

I based this burger on tempeh because I wanted a patty high in protein. I love the chewy texture of tempeh and because it's a fermented food, it promotes good digestive health.

This recipe may appear aggressively seasoned, but because the base ingredients - tempeh and raw sunflower seeds - don't have a lot of flavor on their own, they are best paired with a good amount of aromatic ingredients. I love cilantro and used a whole bunch (it was on the small side) but if you don't love cilantro, you can use less. Or substitute parsley or basil or fresh jalapeno.

Some home-made veggie burgers can crumble and fall apart, but these patties hold together well. Ground coconut is not only a great binder but also a good source of healthy fat.

The uncooked mixture will be stiff, but it will be easy to work with. Sautéed in a little extra virgin olive oil, the patties become crispy on the outside, tender and chewy on the inside.

Which is exactly what I want from a veggie burger.

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup roughly chopped red onion
1 bunch roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
4 garlic cloves or more, smashed
8 oz tempeh (cultured soybeans and brown rice), chopped or crumbled
1 tsp freshly grated ginger, or more 
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt
Ground peppercorn
2 eggs
2 tbsp raw, cold-pressed sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 to 2 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil  or coconut oil
1 lime

Add the sunflower seeds, onion, cilantro and garlic to a food processor. Pulse and purée until finely chopped.

Add the tempeh, ginger, sea salt and peppercorn and pulse until finely chopped.

Add the eggs, sesame oil and 1/4 cup of coconut flour. Pulse to combine and then evaluate the texture. If it's too wet, add more coconut flour. Purée until well mixed and homogenous, or if you prefer more texture in your burger, pulse until just combined.

Form the mixture into balls, then flatten the balls into patties.

To cook, warm the olive or coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the tempeh burgers and sauté until golden brown on one side. Flip the burgers and cover the skillet. Cook until they have browned on the other side. Squeeze half the lime over the burgers and cut the other half into wedges. Serve the tempeh burgers  immediately, with the lime wedges on the side.

I placed my patty atop a salad with plenty of vinaigrette, so sauce wasn't necessary. If you are going to put yours in a sandwich, add a dollop of real mayonnaise or whole milk plain yogurt, or a drizzle of sesame oil.

These patties can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for future use.

Makes 6 to 8 patties

Vegan Variation:

Omit the eggs. Leave out the coconut flour initially, until you assess the moisture of the mixture. Add the coconut flour accordingly. Garnish with sesame oil instead of mayonnaise or yogurt.

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