Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of rice burgers – but now I’m a total convert. I have to credit the fabulous Green Rocket Café with introducing me to this sublime concept. It’s basically a giant crispy arancini, served in a bun with some yummy toppings. In this case I made a creamy tomato and oregano risotto, which I then fried up for the rice burger, and served with crispy halloumi and homemade guacamole (although they’re from different culinary families, I think halloumi and guacamole are a match made in heaven). The result is a gorgeous vegetarian ‘burger’ that knocks bean burgers right out of the park.
This dish does require a little bit of faffing around, as you need to make the risotto first, so if you wanted to spread that out, you could make a larger quantity of risotto, have some for dinner one night, and then save some to make the burgers the following night (just pop it in the fridge).
Tomato & Oregano Rice Burgers with Crispy HalloumiPrint Recipe
- For the rice burgers:
- 1 small onion
- 1 fat garlic clove
- Olive oil
- 65g risotto rice
- A small glass of red wine
- 200ml passata
- A small handful of fresh oregano, finely chopped
- A little grated Cheddar
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- For the guacamole:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- To serve:
- A couple of thick slices of halloumi
- Soft white baps
A quick note on the breadcrumbs – you can buy panko, but I make my own, which is surprisingly easy. Use a food processor to break stale bread down into crumbs, spread on a baking tray and toast under the grill until crispy. Then use a rolling pin to grind them down into really fine crumbs. It's worth taking the time to do these extra steps, as really dry breadcrumbs with give you a lovely crispy crust when fried. Leave them spread out on the tray, ready to coat the burgers later.
Finely chop the onion and the garlic, and fry gently in a slug of olive oil and a scoop of melted butter – keep the heat fairly low, so that the onion doesn't start to crisp. When it’s nicely softened, add the risotto rice and fry for a few minutes, and then turn up the heat to medium and pour in the red wine. Let it sizzle for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. In the meantime, boil the kettle.
Once most of the wine has been absorbed, add a splash of boiling water and stir regularly, as the rice absorbs the water. Repeat twice more. Next, add the passata, 100 ml at a time, again stirring well and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Then go back to adding water, until the rice is nicely cooked – it shouldn't require too much more. Season well with salt and pepper, stir through the chopped oregano, and then finally mix in a little grated Cheddar. Put on one side to cool.
Next, make the guacamole. I just popped all the ingredients into my mini-processor and blended them, but you could mash the avocado by hand if you prefer a chunkier guacamole.
Now’s probably a good time to put your chips on, whether you’re oven-baking them or using a fryer. When they've got about ten minutes left to cook, you need to start frying the burgers. With clean dry hands, shape the cold risotto into two balls, then place on the tray of breadcrumbs and gently press down into a round patty about 2cm thick. Use a spatula to carefully flip them over a few times, so they’re nicely coated with crumbs all over.
In a deep saucepan, heat vegetable oil to a depth of about 1cm. It needs to get really nice and hot – you can test this by dropping in a few of the breadcrumbs. They need to fizz and sizzle on the surface of the oil. When that happens, use the spatula to lower the burgers into the oil. They’ll need 3 or 4 minutes on each side.
While the burgers are cooking, fry the slices of halloumi with a little splash of olive oil, until light brown on each side.
When the burgers are ready, they should be golden and crispy. Scoop them up with a slotted spatula, allowing the oil to drain off, then pop onto the bottom burger bun and top with the halloumi slices and a good dollop of guacamole. Serve with fries and a cold beer.