These patties can become veggie burgers on a handsome bread. Made into miniatures, they make a wonderful hors d’œuvre served with a salad or a drop of your favorite sauce. The base of this recipe works so well and is so nutritious, that you can take it in any direction by giving it any shape, size, and flavor you like. For a festive flavor, especially during Thanksgiving or Christmas, I love to make these with rosemary, sage and thyme. For the everyday meal, I just use parsley or thyme, and top with caramelized onions, arugula, and avocado. For a Mediterranean flavor, cilantro and mint. For a French touch, tarragon. The porto can also be switched for another liquor or wine. Adding Worcestershire sauce gives them an extra bit of umami flavor (look for vegan Worcestershire sauce to keep it vegetarian). Play with the aromas and give your grown-up burgers any twist you can dream up.
When you read it all, it may sound like a lot of work, but it’s very easy and fast, especially if you make the rice and quinoa ahead of time and use chestnuts that are already roasted and peeled. I buy them like this in a sealed bag at the grocery store.
3.5 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
6 ounces Portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, finely chopped
5.25 ounces chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and finely ground (I use pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts)
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, finely ground
1 cup cooked and unseasoned red quinoa (this can be made in advance)
1 cup cooked and unseasoned red rice (this can be made in advance)
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 eggs, beaten with a teaspoon of tamari
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon sage leaves, finely chopped(optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons porto
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil (for sautéing the onions and mushrooms)
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 onion, for caramelizing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
Grind the nuts for the loaf very finely in the food processor and set aside. Pulse the rice in the food processor a few times.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and sauté the onion and minced garlic. Add the chopped thyme and other optional herbs, and then set aside.
In a sauté pan over medium high, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Once the pan is hot, throw in the chopped mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add 4 tablespoons of porto and let it simmer until most of the porto has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl. Stir in the sautéed onions, the ground chestnuts, the ground walnuts, the cup of cooked quinoa, and the cup of pulsed and cooked red rice. Season with the Worcestershire sauce, the salt, and pepper to taste. Add the beaten eggs and panko and mix everything together well.
Form the patties and bake them on a lined sheet pan for about 15 minutes on one side and flip over to for about 15 minutes the other side or until they are firm to touch. I made some using a mini silicone muffin pan, baking them for about 25 minutes.
To caramelize the onion, slice it very thinly and sauté until golden brown. Add the poppy and anise seeds and continue cooking for few more minutes. This adds a great flavor that goes especially with the combination of textures and greens. Serve on a crusty bread like ciabatta.