Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sweet Potato, Farro and Walnut Burgers with Homemade Pickles

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Makes 6 burgers
Time: about 45 minutes 

One of my favorite parts of summer is having dinner outside with my husband, eating something that he's grilled and spending some time together at the end of the day. I love the ritual of piling plates, utensils and whatever else we need onto a tray and taking them outside, watching him set the timer on his watch to ensure he gets the grilling times right, and sipping iced tea while watching random cars go by. Although it's nothing too elaborate, I always remember and enjoy those meals the most, perhaps because of these little rituals, or maybe just because it's nice to sit outside while the day's heat and brightness lift a little, and everything is calm and quiet.

While I am usually content with throwing a variation of this burger or a marinated portobello mushroom on the grill, I wanted to make something different and new this weekend. I decided to make a burger using farro and walnuts for texture, mashed sweet potato kissed with rosemary for some contrast, and vital wheat gluten, panko crumbs and a little tahini to bind everything together. These work beautifully on the grill, producing a toothsome and flavorful bite that sits perfectly in a bun layered with kale, homemade pickles and red onion.

for the burger
1/2 cup farro
2 cups water
small sweet potato, cut into 1X1 cubes
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup tahini
2 TB vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper

for the pickles
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cucumber, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds

to serve
buns, kale leaves, sliced red onion, Tofutti or Daiya slices, fresh tomato, vegan A-1 sauce and ketchup 

To make the burgers, rinse the farro and place it into a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to cook at a low boil, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess water and place the farro into a bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer. 

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add in the cubed sweet potato and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the sweet potatoes very well, mash, and measure out 1 cup, then add it with the farro. Any leftover sweet potatoes can be eaten later or used to make croquettes or gyozas.

Add in the rest of the burger ingredients and knead with your hands or in a Kitchen aid mixer for 3-4 minutes, to allow the gluten to develop. 

Shape the mixture into 6 equal pieces. Roll into spheres, then flatten them out between your palms a bit. You can either grill them immediately or store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill.

To make the pickles, bring the water and rice vinegar to a boil. Add in the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in the sliced cucumbers and stir. Sprinkle the seeds over the top, cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Once it's cool enough, transfer to a glass container and allow to chill and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours up to a couple of days before eating (they taste best after a few days). The pickles will last about a week in the refrigerator.


  1. WOW these look ah-maz-ing! perfect for grilling with dad on father's day!

  2. Dang these do look fantastic. Totally hearty. I don't think I've ever had farro! I love pretty much anything sweet potato through. The toppings look perfect too.

  3. oh yumful burger brilliance! Perfect combination...thank you for sharing it!

  4. out of this world burgers, lady! i love eating outside in the summer, too. it's a tradition of my family's and there's just nothing better.

  5. I'm always on the hunt for the best veggie burger, thanks!

  6. I love farro so much! I can't believe I hadn't considered trying it in a burger- these look amazing! Cannot wait to try them! :-)

  7. I made these tonight and they were easy and delicious. I had never heard of vital wheat gluten before but I found it in the bulk bin at Whole Foods. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. So happy you liked, thanks for your feedback! :)


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