Spiced Zucchini, Feta + Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Minted Yogurt Sauce

Gluten-free, grain-free veggie burgers get a falafel vibe from toasted spices and chickpeas, substance from zucchini and feta, and gooey love from garlic and mint-laced Greek yogurt. {Thanks to Dave’s Killer Bread for sponsoring this post!}

I began writing this post on Monday during the drive south from San Francisco to Big Sur for a mid-week camping trip with my family. I planned to tell you all about the sweeping coastline with stunning views of the ocean, about our spacious campsite under the redwoods, our trips to the beach and the gorge for sunbathing and swimming, enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature, and delicious meals from the grill and local eateries. 

My sister was having a significant birthday, the kind where people give you jokey cards with talk of hills, and she wanted none of it. She booked a campsite at Pfeiffer State Park, which is one of our favorite places in the world to spend a weekend (or a beginning-of-the-week, as it were). The famous campground begins taking reservations six months in advance and they fill up immediately, so we were pleased when she found a site mere weeks ahead.

We soon found out why.

The weather forecast predicted a heatwave. But as Jay drove and I got partway through my first paragraph, we dropped down to Highway 1 to find the glorious view obscured by thick fog. When we arrived at the campground, it was sunny again, and very hot – and so was ourminusculecampsite. The sun bore down on a small plot of dust surrounded on three sides by walls of poison oak. Jay did what any sensible man would at times like these: he opened a beer. And I did what any sensible woman would: I went to book a room at the lodge.

The next morning was cool and overcast. We sat around the picnic table, full from a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and Irish coffees (my brother WINS at camping), when suddenly a thunderous sound engulfed us. Out of nowhere a violent wind had kicked up. Hundreds of dry leaves (probably poison oak) swirled around our heads. The sound was as loud as a plane taking off. All around us, tree limbs cracked and fell. After a few minutes the wind died down as mysteriously as it came up. My sister had been off in the redwoods with a baby and another small child and reported that a giant limb crashed at their feet before they turned and sprinted for the road. Luckily no one in the campground was injured, but the damage caused a crew of prison laborers to set up a chainsawing and wood-chipping operation to deal with the fallen trees for the entire day… right outside our room.

We went to Nepenthe to escape the ruckus and take in the view and a few drinkles, then to Pfeiffer beach to shiver and watch the waves as the wind blew a storm of sand into our eyes and ears.

At least the food was amazing. We booked a table at Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant for dinner where we enjoyed large plates of salad, blistered shishito peppers, wood-fired pizzas topped with creamy greens, a couple of bottles of white Bourgogne, and two exquisite desserts: a lemon ice cream pie in a pistachio crust with lemon curd, and a warm flourless brownie topped with crunchy walnuts and coffee ice cream.

The night of the epic winds we dined at the campsite on grilled halloumi, zucchini and bell pepper skewers, steaks, a kale and hempseed slaw, and these veggie burgers. There were mint julepsand more bottles of wine. For dessert I concocted some schmancy s’mores that I hope to share here soon. We drank whiskey and sang around the campfire for hours, and though it started to drizzle, the rains held off until our drive home the next day, following a breakfast of avocado toast and lattes back at Big Sur Bakery.

So about these burgers. Zucchini, chickpeas and feta blend with the falafel-esque flavors of cumin, coriander and parsley. Egg and chickpea flour bind the mixture together for a sturdy burger that doesn’t fall apart when you nom it. I top them with a minty yogurt sauce, and sliced tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and sprouts all piled on some seedy buns from Dave’s Killer Bread.

We first fell for Dave’s organic breads while traveling in Washington State a couple of years ago (we’re particularly fond of the spelt bread) and when I was contacted about featuring their newMillion Dollar Bunson this site, I was glad to oblige.The buns are packed with seeds and whole grains and have a soft, sweet base that will highlight any burger you choose to put between them. The company has a rad mission statement to treat their employees well and get former convicts back on their feet, so it’s one that I’m glad to support.

Many thanks to Dave’s Killer Bread for sponsoring this post, and to Jered’s Pottery for the beautiful handmade blue mixing bowl pictured up top.

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Bojon Burgers and Sandwiches:

Quinoa, Beet and Chickpea Veggie Burgers
Green Goddess Sandwiches
Tempeh BLTs with Kimchi, Avocado and Chipotle Mayonnaise

Spiced Zucchini, Feta + Chickpea Veggie Burgers with
Minted Yogurt Sauce

These burgers are vegetarian, gluten-free and grain-free, and would be equally delectable made into smaller cakes, fried in a little extra oil, and served atop a green salad. Don’t skip the yogurt sauce as it adds needed moisture to the sturdy patties. Do be sure to squeeze the bejeezus out of the zucchini so you don’t end up with soggy burgers.The burger mix can be made up to a day or two ahead and fried to order. Or cook up the burgers and store them airtight in the fridge or freezer. Cooked burger patties travel well and can be thrown on a grill to re-heat.

I made these with home-cooked chickpeas; if using canned, you may need to add less chickpea flour to account for drier beans.If starting with dried chickpeas, soak ¾ cup dried beans in cool water for 8-12 hours. Drain, place in a saucepan covered with several inches of water, and add a bay leaf if you like. Simmer the beans until very tender,
about 1 hour, adding in ½ teaspoon fine sea salt toward the end of cooking.
Measure out what you need for the burgers, saving the rest for another use.

Makes 6 burgers

Burgers:

2 cups (300 g) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
12 ounces zucchini (4 medium / 340 g), grated on the large
holes of a box grater (2 cups packed)
salt, as needed
4 teaspoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
½ cup finely chopped parsley
finely grated zest from 1 large lemon
1 large egg
1 cup (120 g) chickpea flour
1 ¼ cups (5 ounces / 140 g) crumbled feta cheese (I used
sheep’s milk)
~ ¼ cup (60 ml) mild vegetable oil for frying, such as sunflower

Yogurt sauce:
2 large cloves garlic
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk Greek Yogurt
a large handful mint leaves, finely chopped

For serving:

6 buns (such as Dave’s Million Dollar Buns or Honey Oat BeerBuns), halved and toasted

avocado, tomato, thinly sliced red onion, sprouts (I used
sunflower sprouts)

Make the burgers:

Place the grated zucchini in a large colander and toss with
2 teaspoons of salt. Let the zucchini drain for 15 minutes, then squeeze out as
much moisture as you can with your hands (or roll it up in a clean kitchen
towel and wring it out). Discard the zucchini water.

Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet
set over a medium-low flame and toast until fragrant, shuffling the pan
frequently, 2-3 minutes. Let cool completely, then grind finely in a spice
grinder or mortar and pestle.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet set over a medium flame until
it shimmers, then add the onion, garlic, smoked paprika and the ground
coriander and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is caramelized
and tender.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked onion, chickpeas, drained
zucchini, parsley and lemon zest. Use a potato masher to mash the mixture, leaving the
chickpeas fairly chunky. Blend in the egg, chickpea flour, and ½ teaspoon salt.
Gently stir in the feta, leaving it in chunks. The burger mixture can be
prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated airtight until ready to cook.

Make the yogurt sauce:

Mash the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle (or
with a fork in a wooden bowl) until smooth. Work in the yogurt, then stir in
the mint. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead.)

Cook the burgers:

Shape the burger mixture into 6 large patties, roughly 4″ wide and 1″ tall. Heat 1/8″ of sunflower oil in a wide skillet set over a medium flame
until it shimmers. Carefully add 3 of the burgers and cook on the first side
until deeply browned, 3-4 minutes, reducing the heat if the burger is cooking
too quickly. Flip and cook on the second sides until browned and the burgers
are cooked through, 3-4 more minutes. The burgers are fairly dense, so decrease
the heat to low if necessary to gently heat them all the way through. Drain on
paper towels, and repeat with the remaining burgers. (Extra burgers can be
refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month or two;
re-fry to heat through before serving.)

Eat the burgers!:

Spread the buns on each side with a tablespoon or two of
yogurt sauce, then top with the burger patties, sliced avocado, tomato, onion, and
sprouts. Devour immediately.

44 thoughts on “Spiced Zucchini, Feta + Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Minted Yogurt Sauce”

  1. Alanna, this burger sounds phenomenal. I'm a little teary eyed reading your post. I think I've told you before, I used to live in your neck of the woods, and I escaped to Big Sur as often as possible. I think about Big Sur daily. I've been gone for 3 years. Wow. Every day for 3 years. It's time to get back, don'tcha think? Nepenthe is my happy place. So is Big Sur Bakery :) I loved reading your recap and your photos on IG. Much love, 'tina

  2. Oh my! I love the way you tell your stories Alanna – so funny, but I wish your camping trip would have turned out as you had hoped! The food sounds like is was completely amazing though. My parents used plan camping meals like this – so delicious and special, while everyone in the campsites around us was eating hot dogs. You have me craving a little camping escape now!

    Also these burgers sound fantastic! Your photos are also so gorgeous! xo

  3. I was LOL when I read 'any sensible man… beer. Any sensible woman… lodge.' I'd be right there with you! Reading and following on IG makes me anticipate our trip in the Fall even more-so (save the falling trees, wind and poison oak!). What an incredible place to respite and breathe deep…. oh and EAT!

    These burgers, Alanna, and just what I need right now. I love veggie burgers this time of year, so I'm thinking I need to whip these up as soon as the zucchini shows in my CSA. The textures and flavors sound fabulous, especially with your yogurt sauce! Thank you for this, Alanna! Have a beautiful weekend!

    1. Haha, thank you Traci! Hopefully the weather will be a bit more docile when you're there in the Fall. (Take me with you!!) Thanks a bunch for the kind note and let me know if you give the burgers a go. Are you here in CA?? I'd love to meet you IRL!

  4. I bet the yogurt sauce makes all tbe difference here. Yum! You tell your tale so well. I love camping and line you my brother wins at it. I had a similar experience 2 weeks ago in ny. We managed to secure a spot by tbe lake on short notice. Scattered t-storms? Whatever. I didn't book a hotel. Instead we lovechild through a tempest and froze. BUTHE the camping good was fab. Well done here!

    1. Thunderstorms? Eek! I woulda been out of there so fast. Hard core girlfriend! (Also I'm guessing autocorrect is the culprit of "lovechild?" That sentence is hilarious!! But I think I know what you meant.) Thanks a million for the kind note.

  5. i loved reading your words here, as always. the description of your campsite and the beauty around had to have been quite stunning. its so fun that you can do things like this with your family, and create such powerful memories. i have to say i've never had dave's bread before but it looks "killer". and your veggie burgers with zucchini are right up my alley ;) they look so perfectly crisp! xo

  6. How terrifying! I can't even imagine what I would've done in the night of epic winds. Thank goodness no one was hurt! Plus, then you got to eat a ton of great food, so no harm no foul right? :) Meanwhile, THESE BURGERS! Way to steal my heart.

  7. You are a great story teller, it was a fun read! I LOVE Big Sur, I have yet to camp there but my friends do all the time. I am going to have to go next time and I'm sure we will be staying in the lodge because Robby doesn't like camping. What guy doesn't like camping, lol! These burgers sound incredible too!!!

  8. You definitely did the right thing – lodge, all, the, way, sister! Big Sur Bakery looks like such an inspired spot, lemon ice cream pie – whaaaa?

  9. I was so excited when we drove up Highway 1 a couple of years ago only to find that the whole thing was totally obscured by fog the whole way up to Monetary. I could have been anyway! Plus, even worse, we missed lunch service at Big Sur Bakery by like 10 minutes :/ And yeah, I'd be with you in that lodge every time. This burger = so good.

  10. well i have to say you've got my awful beach weekend from two weeks ago beat! swirly death cloud of poison oak and a chain saw crew? not cool. but you guys feasted like gods and shrugged it off so obviously i'm choosing you for my apocalypse crew. when the zombies come we'll eat fancy s'mores and drink whiskey and kick some ass. or, you know, open up a 5 star restaurant protected by twenty walls of steel and concrete. and these look so delicious my stomach is grumbling. can't wait to try them out!

    1. Yusssss! Long live the tribe of the schmancy s'mores! You douse the zombies in whiskey and I'll pelt them with flaming marshmallows. Deal? xoxo

  11. Guh, we went camping this weekend with a similar experience. However, it looks like you ate ridiculously well (hello halloumi skewers!). These burgers, too. I absolutely love chickpea burgers, I can't wait to make these for our next picnic! Thank you, Alanna! xx

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