Monday, April 28, 2014

Brown rice hazelnut burgers
with baked onion rings

April 21, 2014

A month or two ago we picked up a cut-price copy of Julie Hasson's Vegan Diner. Although I'd excitedly flicked through it in bookshops in the past, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to try out of it. I guess I know my way around vegan junk food already, with burgers and scrambles and muffins and waffles already accomplished many times over, and I really don't need a recipe to mix together soy milk and store-bought vegan icecream (I'm looking at you, Mocha Malt on page 154). That said, please tell me you favourite recipes from this book! I want to give it a good chance.

One recipe that did catch my eye was for brown rice hazelnut burgers. They're definitely a weekend job - brown rice needs cooking, mushrooms need sauteing, hazelnuts need roasting and they all need cooling before they make it to a food processor, let alone an oven. The burger mixture is a little fragile and needs gentle handling and flipping to avoid crumbling. But the time and care taken paid us back with a bumper batch of really nice patties; a savoury, mincey texture, a slightly charred crust, and a distinctive nuttiness. They're a good stand-in for minced beef burgers. We stacked them with a simple Vegan Diner sauce, tomatoes, grated fresh carrot and beetroot, and spinach leaves on lightly toasted rye bread.

I also tried my hand at onion rings for the first time. There are a couple of recipes for them in Vegan Diner but those involved deep-frying, and I preferred to pull out an oven-baked version that I'd bookmarked on Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit years ago.

I started out strategically. Since the burger mix also included an onion, we sliced both onions into rings, picked the best ones for battering and then scooped the messier half into the patties. I crushed up some cornflakes in lieu of breadcrumbs, but they rapidly clumped up and refused to adhere to the batter-dipped onion rings. In a fit of desperation I cast aside the cornflakes and used a second dusting of flour on the remaining rings. They looked much more promising.

Surprisingly, the couple of cornflake-crusted rings (pictured right, above) were the pick of the bunch, deeply caramelised and very crunchy. The flour-doused rings (picture left, above) were still pleasant but notably dustier. I'd love to find a way to make the cornflake crumbs consistently clingier. Then again, I only seek onion rings occasionally and they're increasingly accessible at Melbourne's many burger joints. I might just leave them to the experts.

Brown rice hazelnut burgers
(slightly adapted from Julie Hasson's Vegan Diner)

1/2 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup TVP
2 teaspoons olive oil
200g mushrooms, sliced
1 cup hazelnuts
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small brown onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup gluten flour
1/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
spray oil

Place the brown rice and 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan. Bring them to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the rice until all the water is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Set the rice aside to cool down.

Bring the remaining water to the boil in a kettle. Place the TVP in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir it through and allow the water to absorb and the TVP to cool down.

Heat an oven to 120°C and roast the hazelnuts for around 30 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, them rub off their skins using a paper towel. Discard the skins and roughly chop the nuts.

Heat the olive oil in a frypan and add the mushrooms. Saute them for about 5 minutes, until soft. Set them aside to cool down.

Turn the oven up to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with paper.

Place the mushrooms, garlic and onion in a food processor and pulse them until finely chopped. Add the TVP, rice and hazelnuts and pulse further - just until finely chopped, not pureed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the three flours, parsley, salt and pepper until just combined. Form the mixture into patties and place them on the baking tray. Spray them with oil and bake for 15 minutes on each side.

Special sauce
(slightly adapted from Julie Hasson's Vegan Diner)

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
dash of paprika
salt and pepper

Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl.

Baked onion rings
(from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit, where it's credited to
Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction)

1 large onion
1/3 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes, breadcrumbs or plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
spray oil

Preheat an oven to 230°C. Line a baking tray with paper.

Peel the onion and slice it into thick rings. Separate the rings out and place a paper towel over them to reduce the fumes.

Stir together the flour and cornflour in a small wide bowl. Whisk in half of the almond milk. Whisk in the apple cider vinegar and remaining almond milk until you have a smooth batter.

In a separate small wide bowl, mix together the crumbs, salt and olive oil with your fingers.

Set yourself up an assembly line with onions, batter, crumbs and baking tray. With your 'batter hand' pick up onion rings and dunk them in the batter, dropping them in the crumbs. Then use your 'crumb hand' to ensure they're well coated in crumbs and transfer the rings to the baking tray. Repeat until you've used up all the rings. Spray the trays and rings with oil and bake for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through.


  1. I like the sound of hazelnut burgers! I've never had the opportunity to flick through the book myself, but having seen it online I kinda thought the same - I know the basics to that sort of food so probably wouldn't be worth buying the book. I'll be interested to see if you find any other good recipes though!

    1. Thanks, littleveganbear! I'll certainly report back on any other recipes that I try. :-)

  2. Ohh i have to make these! I have heaps of hazelnut meal left over from making milk with and I only ever thought to use it for sweets but now you have inspired me!!

    1. Hi Vegan in Melbourne! Ah, thanks sounds like an excellent re-using strategy. I'm sure the meal is awesome in sweets too. :-)