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Broccoli burgers in onion seed buns

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We're told that broccoli is good for us, and that we should eat it a few times a week. Like a good little girl who listens to her mother, I've been doing that a lot lately. But then, you don't need to disguise it in any way to make me eat the vegetable.
However, just for a change, I thought I would have broccoli other than in the form of steamed florets or a stir-fry. So into burger patties it went.
I feel a little embarrassed giving a recipe for the patties because the ingredients are simply what I had at home. That is the charm of the burger – and cooking in general I suppose.
The star of the show must, however, be the burger bun. I ditched the plain soft roll and used one flavoured with onion seeds and fried onions. They complemented the broccoli patties very well. The buns are based on Dan Lepard's onion seed hotdog rolls at The Guardian. I made only half the amount of dough and shaped the rolls as round burger buns.

Broccoli burger patties flavoured with jalapeño sauce (left) and sambal oelek
Broccoli Patties
Makes 4 patties

2 cups broccoli florets
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
4-5 tbsp hard cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped spring onion
1 egg, beaten

Seasonings (to taste)
Jalapeño sauce
Sambal oelek
Salt and pepper

Cook the broccoli florets (steam, blanch or microwave) until just tender. Place in a food processor with the seeds, cheese, garlic, spring onion and egg. Pulse to coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl.
Divide the mixture into four and season each portion individually as desired. Add enough breadcrumbs (1½-2 tbsp) to each portion so that the mixture holds together. Form into 2cm-thick patties. Cook in a 180°C oven, on the stove or grill until both sides are golden and patty is warm in the centre*.
Just before assembling the burgers, place a slice of cheese on the patty and leave to melt. Lay the patty over salad leaves in a split bun with grilled tomato slices and serve with more of the seasoning sauce, a pickled gherkin and roasted sweet potato wedges.
* I check by piercing the tip of a knife through the centre of the patty and holding it against my lower lip. And yes, there have been times when I have burned myself...
* * *
In Malaysia, I don't know where to get black onion seeds (also known as kalonji or nigella seeds). I've looked around the shops but have not found them anywhere. My supply comes from London, and to be honest, the only time I see the seeds being used in recipes is in those from British and Australian publications. Dan Lepard suggests fennel seeds as an alternative. 
I also got some nigella seeds from Morocco, but I was told that type is not used in cooking. What you do with the seeds is wrap about a teaspoon of them in a handkerchief and use it as a kind of inhaler throughout the day. It's said to clear the sinuses, but I get the feeling it does more than that... if you know what I mean. ;-)
Onion seeds and fried onion make for flavourful buns
Onion Seed Burger Buns

About 200g onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus a little extra for kneading
1 tsp black onion (kalonji) seeds, or fennel seeds
35g cold milk
1 egg yolk
¾ tsp fine salt
¾ tsp dry instant yeast
250g strong white flour
50g strong wholemeal flour
1 tsp custard powder

Gently cook the onions in oil for 10-15 minutes until they're soft, golden brown and have lost most of their moisture, then scrape into a bowl. Mix in the seeds, milk, egg yolk, salt and 100ml warm water. Add the yeast and flours, mix to a sticky dough, adding more water if needed, then leave for 10 minutes.
Oil your hands and a 30cm area of worktop. Knead the dough for 10 seconds, leave for 10 minutes, then repeat twice more at 10-minute intervals. Return the dough to the bowl and leave for an hour.
Divide the dough into four (scaled to about 125g each) and shape into balls. Press down lightly and place seam-side down on a lightly greased or non-stick paper-lined tray. Cover, leave for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. Mix the custard powder into a slurry with 1-1½ tbsp water and brush the tops of the buns with the glaze. Bake at 200°C for 25 minutes.


  1. These burgers look delish and I fell in love with these buns! Definitely bookmarked!

  2. The idea of broccoli burgers is terrific. We eat little meat, at this point, so I am always looking for substitutions. I have not come across a burger made from broccoli so this is new territory. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I am so excited to try this. I was just lying here in bed thinking "broccoli burgers would be amazing--I wonder if any good recipes exist?" Thank you so much for sharing!


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