Reuben’s famous veggie burger at home

Several weeks ago, I was once again inspired by another delicious dinner at Burke and Joan’s. They might not really like the credit for the inspiration, though, being the amazing cooks they are. That’s because, this motivation came from a box.

Maybe it was largely hormones, but at the barbeque that night, I ate the best veggie burger I’ve had in a good long while. At first Burke’s admission that it was “Morningstar from Costco” only served as confirmation that most of the veggie burger recipes requiring more than a couple ingredients (e.g. a portobello mushroom and some seasoning) haven’t really been worth the effort in the end. They may have been good, and even quite good, but not so amazingly grand there’s really a contest with the far easier aforementioned grilled portobello cap.

Then I remembered an article I wrote for Natural Health a couple years ago…actually, it was more of a collection of top veggie burger recipes from across the country, and I reconsidered. It didn’t seem right to throw in the towel without at least trying some of the generously shared, lovingly adored recipes I’d gathered. Pulling up the neglected document, I couldn’t help but notice several were exceptionally minimalist with their ingredients, too (e.g. a slab of tofu and seasonings). Simplicity is key more often than it’s not.

One that especially stood out came from our backyard…or at least, from a 20 minute drive away. Specifically, from Reuben’s Burger Bistro, in Boulder. I remember pushing for that one (to win top applause in the magazine’s rankings). Not only had I tasted and loved it, Reuben was hands down one of the most prompt and helpful chefs to correspond with.

The burger was good! Of course it was–it was Reuben’s. Featuring a little southwestern flair brought out by the likes of roasted red and chipotle peppers, corn, and cilantro, it’s packed with protein from quinoa and black beans.  If I’m really, really honest, my personal creation probably wouldn’t deliver the knockout punch against the Costco Morningstar Spicy Black Bean competitor. However, it’s homemade, which counts for a whole lot. And, as long as you plan ahead to account for the time letting the ingredients meld together overnight, it’s pretty straightforward to make.

Besides, Reuben’s version does deliver. Give the killer blow (in a good way), I mean. Most likely yours will, too.

Reuben’s Veggie Burger

Makes 6 ½-cup Patties

Prep: 15 minutes (plus overnight chilling)

Cook: 20 minutes 

  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 14-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup cooked corn
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, drained and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ Panko bread crumbs, plus extra


1. Combine the quinoa and broth in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. In a bowl, slightly mash the black beans. Combine with remaining ingredients. Chill the mixture overnight.

2. Shape into patties. Brown and heat in a frying pan with a little olive oil, about 3 minutes per side. Serve on a bun with toppings of choice.



  1. Burke Fishburn
    June 4, 2013

    I admit we were a bit embarrassed to serve those burgers, but it was a last minute lazy decision. I did take a look at the nutrition facts label

    and while all the processed stuff doesn’t make me that happy, the ingredient list is not as egregious as I thought it might be. What I forgot, however, is that Morningstar is a Kellogg’s brand. And we are not fond of Kellogg (they are fighting hard against GMO labelling).

    Lesson? Make your own veggie burgers.

    • Wendy McMillan
      June 4, 2013

      Thanks so much for the info, Burke! Last minute lazy decisions are essential parts of outdoor summer entertaining. With all the great food you’ve provided so many people on so many occasions, you’re more than entitled. Maybe a future get together can be a potluck homemade burger swap!

  2. kristie
    June 4, 2013

    I can’t wait to try this!! Thank you! I’m also super excited it is a veggie burger whose main ingredient isn’t fungi! LOL.

    • Wendy McMillan
      June 4, 2013

      Kristie, I can’t wait to find time to get together, and we can make some! But we’ll have to choose a gluten free substitute for panko, or try out something else. Hope you’re doing great! 🙂

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