The brilliance of these Paleo sweet potato veggie burgers pretty much speak for themselves, so I’m going to keep today’s post brief. Mainly, because I just got back from California, and in addition to being in serious oyster and claw-footed bathtub withdrawal, my jet lag has rendered me barely fit to unpack my suitcase. More on our trip to Inverness soon. For now, veggie burgers.
I’ve been experimenting with eating fewer grains recently. As much as such a pursuit makes my inner healthy hedonist stomp her feet, my skin has been off, so I’m hoping that upping my game on the clean eating front will help things settle. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of sugar to blame along the way (I’m looking at you wedding night creme brûlée cups), so taking it easy on the carb front (if only for the immediate future) can’t hurt.
A few months ago, I told you about the special place frozen veggie burgers hold in my heart. (It’s a section called my inner college girl that will always burn bright for not-so tasteful side boob, all nighters at the library and Cooks champagne.) Back in April, I got my hands on a serious stash of my favorite veggie burger brand. But since I’ve completely blown through them by now, and our national day of burgers is nearly upon us, I thought I’d whip up something homemade for Meatless Monday before I left for my trip.
Per the grain-free dietary addendum, I wanted to make them Paleo. And that turned out to be a challenge. Most gluten-free burgers use quinoa instead of breadcrumbs to add body to the patty, and legumes to make the mixture bind together.
Sweet potato black bean burgers are one of my favorite combinations, since both of those main ingredients provide bulk and glue all at the same time. But our forefathers apparently did not subsist on bachelor cans of beans, so those were out. My answer? Cauliflower. Which seems to be the answer to every Paleo question the world over.
Instead of turning my cauliflower into rice and having the raw florets become their own special plant-based breadcrumb, I decided to roast them until caramelized, along with some sweet potato, and then turn both into a coarse puree. A little almond flour (I like this brand) and egg creates a cakey consistency, but be warned that these burgers are still on the stickier side. Best to use an indoor skillet instead of a grill, and preferably a nonstick (nontoxic) one.
Chilling the sweet potato burgers before searing them really helps hold the patties together. But if they get bent out of shape, don’t stress. You can always use your spatula to reform them once you’ve gotten a little browning action on both sides. Once the patties are transferred to the oven, they firm up really nicely. You can cook them completely in the oven if you like, it will just mean more of a falafel consistency, and only the side touching the pan will be flat and browned. That option takes about 30 minutes.
Veggie burgers always take me in a Califlornia direction (perhaps I was already anticipating my withdrawal from this trip?), so I decided to dress these up So-Cal style with some avocado, sprouts and spicy sriracha aioli. You can use chaloula or chipotle for more of a Tex-Mex vibe, but I am an unapologetic sriracha monster.
Alright, back to unpacking/life reorganization mode.
If you’re looking for a meatless main course for your Fourth of July BBQ next Monday, I highly recommend these bad boys! More summer party inspiration here.
From one healthy, veggie burger loving hedonist, to another,
Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with Avocado and Sriracha Aioli (Vegetarian Paleo)
- 1 small head cauliflower 1 1/2 pounds, cut into small florets
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Ground cumin
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cilantro
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 avocados mashed
- 1/2 cup sriracha mayo
- 6 burger buns or bibb lettuce cups for the truly Paleo
- Sprouts optional, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. On a second parchment-lines sheet pan, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer the pans to the oven and roast until the veggies are lightly browned and caramelized, about 30 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom halfway through.
Transfer half the sweet potatoes and all the cauliflower to a food processor or blender and pulse until a coarse paste forms, with still a few chunks of cauli. Set aside in a large mixing bowl, along with the remaining sweet potatoes, almond flour, egg, chili powder, cilantro and lime zest. Fold the mixture together until well-incorporated.
Form the mixture into 5 or 6 thick 3-inch patties and set aside on a plate. The mixture will be rather sticky. Refrigerate for 20 minutes uncovered, until the burger mixture is cool and firm.
Meanwhile, make the condiments: in a small mixing bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt until coarsely combined.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over a medium-high flame (see note). Add a thin layer of olive oil. Add the veggie burgers (3 at a time) and cook until the top has set, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers and continue. These are going to feel very mushy at this stage, so if they’re misshapen after you add them to the pan, and/or after you flip, just use a silicon spatula to gently nudge the sides back into a round patty shape.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet with the buns, cut-side up, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
While the burgers toast, prepare the sriracha mayo (if you haven't premade).
Top each bun with a burger, followed by the avocado mash, mayo and sprouts. Serve alongside the remaining sauce.
I don’t use nonstick skillets other than cast iron very often, but this would be one of the exceptions, since veggie burgers are so delicate – even more so than fish! Use two spatulas to flip them. And if you don’t want to do the stovetop-hybrid technique, you can just bake them at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. It will take longer, and they will only get charred on the bottom (and look like falafel on the top). But definitely an option if you find the sticky patties hard to handle – it’s not just you 🙂
Like these Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers? Then you’re going to love these other meatless mains:
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