A Gluten Free Take on the Superiority Burger

Burger patty, chopped tomatoes, cabbage, and green vegetables

The Gluten Free Superiority Burger: Their hints of fennel and toasted walnut are perfect with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, and homemade potato wedges.

By Christina De La Rocha

Apparently, there is this vegetarian restaurant in New York, legendary for their fabulous food. They’ve named themselves after their signature dish, the Superiority Burger. Having never really been to NYC, I’ve never eaten a genuine Superiority Burger, but, for reasons lost to me, at some point in the last year or two, I wrote the recipe for one down in my notebook of recipes. I mean, I was probably seeking a better veggie burger recipe, since I’ve got three decades’ worth of failing to make a decent one under my belt (these days of middle-aged spread, both literally and figuratively), but why this particular veggie burger, I don’t know. It’s not like I’d ever heard of it before. Before this lunchtime, I hadn’t ever knuckled down and made them either, because the recipe looks more involved than it actually is.

That being said, it took two hours from start to finish, although some of that was spent waiting for Spouse to come home from his search for bread (even the local hippie organic bakery here in the back woods has been emptied by hamster shopping (which is how the Germans refer to panic buying/stockpiling; Hamsterkauf is totally my new favorite German word). It is the sort of recipe that makes more sense in a restaurant than in a home kitchen. There’s lots of prep work – cooking quinoa, roasting carrots, and, if you don’t want to just open a can, cooking chickpeas. (I just opened a can.) All that prep work is fine for one huge batch you can use throughout the day to cook a restaurant day’s worth of burgers from, but a bit dumb if you’re making lunch for two people.

However, it’s corona virus lockdown time, so it’s not like I’m going anywhere, not even in search of bread (I have a wheat allergy). Yeah, I’ve got books to write, a chick coop to clean, a garden to weed, beds to turn over, seeds to plant, a sweater to knit, a cross-stitch Valentine’s day gift to (finally) finish, a pile of clothes to mend, and I still haven’t reached the top level of Candy Crush, but, what the hell, isn’t that exactly the right time to spend two hours in the kitchen making lunch?

Anyway, I have to say I DID IT!!! I MADE A VEGGIE BURGER AND IT WASN’T A DISASTER!! It did not fall apart in the frying pan or taste like cardboard. Better yet, unlike the revolting mush known as bean burgers (Why, people, WHY???? Life is too short to subject yourself to bean burgers.), it had texture. The use of red quinoa even gave it real burger optics, which was strangely pleasing, even to someone who hasn’t eaten a real burger since the Reagan Administration.

The outcome was the best veggie burger I have ever eaten (although it was, admittedly, still just a veggie burger). The occasional hit of fennel or toasted walnut was pretty classy as I ate it with homemade potato wedges, lettuce, tomato, and mustard. I enjoyed it but I’m sad I wasn’t in a position to smother the patty with guacamole, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion and then smash all that in between two toasted hamburger buns. That would have been sublime.

If you want the real superiority burger recipe, there are bunches floating around on the internet and if you go to Superiority Burger’s website, you can order an official cookbook (word on the street is that their other dishes are even better than the burger). But here’s a tweaked version from me, one that avoids using gluten-containing panko and makes a few other substitutions in deference to the limits of my larder. The hamster shoppers of the weekend wiped out everything useful in the grocery store — we came home from our weekly shop yesterday evening with… cabbages – woot! – and frozen salsify and crispbread for Spouse instead of bread bread and absolutely no TP because, as our favorite cashier told us, there isn’t a roll left to be purchased anywhere in town.

Crazy days.

Anyway, stay healthy!

A GF Take on the Superiority Burger

Time: 1½ – 2 hours

Makes 8 generously sized burger patties

  • 1 cup (250 ml) uncooked red quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) water
  • salt
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) fennel seeds, toasted and ground with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne pepper
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vinegar
  • ¾ cup (190 ml) walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) shatta (or any other pepper sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato starch

1 – Bring water, quinoa, and ¼ tsp (~2 ml) salt to a boil then simmer, covered, 35 minutes. When cooked, remove cover and let cool a bit.

2 – Meanwhile, roast diced carrots at 200°C (390°F) for 30 minutes.

3 – Also meanwhile, brown onion in 1 Tbsp of oil for 6 minutes. Then add ground, toasted fennel seeds and the cayenne pepper and black pepper and cook for half a minute. After that, add the chickpeas and cook briefly, until they’re tender. Then add the vinegar and mash things up.

4 – Mix the chickpea mash in with the quinoa. Add the roasted carrots, toasted walnuts, parsley, and hot sauce. Salt to taste.

5 – Whisk the potato starch into 2 Tbsp (30 ml) of water and fold the result into the burger mixture.

6 – Divide into 8 equal patties and fry each 3 minutes each side.

7 – Enjoy!

Burger patty, chopped tomatoes, cabbage, and green vegetables

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