Like so many things in life, I feel like if you have to force a veggie burger to happen, you should probably just walk away.
I’ve made many a veggie burger in my day – some more successful than others – and I swear, the good ones always work out on the first try, while others are doomed to be tweaked for all of eternity. My truffled mushroom burgers came together with nearly miraculous ease. Since then I’ve tried my hands at all sorts of fun things that have eventually been put aside ‘for later’… until these butternut squash burgers.
They stick together. They’re firm. They have good texture. They are delicious. AND! They don’t meld into one giant clump with your burger bun when you bite into them.
Photography, on the other hand! Taking pictures of burgers is hard. After the vast quantity I had to make in order to get a decent shot – and therefore the vast quantity I ate within a 24-hour period – I should probably go for a run or something… (Unlikely but my heart is in the right place and that’s what counts, right? RIGHT??!)
To get enough light for these pictures, I dragged our table right beside the kitchen window, which has a view of the apartment building across the street. We’re not close enough to each other to have to keep our blinds closed (to be fair, nobody in Holland ever closes their blinds), but we have gotten pretty familiar with several of the neighbours’ daily rituals – sitting out on the balcony in the morning, late-night reading, all that good stuff.
Mid-way through a spirited photo shoot, I sat down right in front of the window so that it essentially framed me and got to ‘cleaning up’, i.e. eating the reject burgers. I dejectedly scarfed down specimens 5 and 6, which were smothered in too much sauce to be aesthetically pleasing, and let said sauce spread all over my face, overcome as I was by a slight bout of frustration… when I suddenly, mid-number 6, looked up to find myself staring at one of the across-the-street neighbours who was looking fixedly (and I imagine pityingly) in my direction from her balcony.
Better than the time I shook my jeans off in the entrance hall upon arriving home – if you’ve ever worn skinny jeans you’ll understand – and looked up, only to lock eyes with a window cleaner outside the living room, which is down the hall. (We’re on the fourth floor, so my immediate pant removal is usually a private affair…)
But still – not one of my finest moments!
As with so many of my recipes lately, most of the work for these burgers is done by your trusty oven. By roasting the squash, you bring out all of its sweetness and – as a bonus – you can easily scoop out its flesh once it’s done without having to peel it. Win win!
I find that blending about half the rice with the squash makes it bind the best, while still preserving lots of texture with the un-blended grains. I also find that cooking the rice a bit longer than you usually would gives the burgers the starch they need to stick together. (I’ve specified white rice because that’s all I’ve tried these with, although in theory I don’t see why overcooked whole-grain or brown rice wouldn’t work here.)
To serve, I top the burgers with some oven-baked feta – it gets even more intense in flavour in the oven – and some trusty herbed yoghurt sauce (similar to this one).
If you’re wondering what to do with any leftover roasted squash you end up with, then head on over to my savoury pumpkin recipe round up for inspiration!
And by the way: you can easily turn these patties into baked butternut squash falafel with the addition of a few herbs!
These butternut squash burgers with herbed yoghurt sauce and baked feta are a great way to celebrate pumpkin season!
To roast butternut squash: First halve the squash, then remove the seeds and stringy bits in the middle. Place peel side up on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in each half. Bake in the oven at 225c/435f for about 30 minutes, or until the skin starts to brown and bubble. Remove from the oven, let cool, and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.
The total time I've indicated takes into account the roasting. If you've got squash pre-roasted, this should take about 40-45 minutes.
*I've also made these in a frying pan, which works very well, but it requires more time and effort because you have to work in batches. If you do it this way, make sure that you make smaller patties so that they don't break when you flip them!