Tempeh Wild Rice Pesto “Burger” Recipe

Tempeh Wild Rice Pesto BurgerOn our first date, my now-husband told me he was a vegetarian.

I am someone who’s extremely passionate about food — all food – and I wondered if his dietary choice would be a deal breaker!  He then said that he eats fish, dairy products, and eggs (a “Pesco” Vegetarian, if you will). Phew! I really, really liked him, and that kind of vegetarian I could live with. 😉

Well, turns out  my husband is super into good food, just not meat and poultry. I always want him to have as good a meal as everyone else at our dinner parties, BBQ’s, etc. So while I think it doesn’t get much better than a pot roast that cooks all day — and makes the house smell amazingly wonderful — I do enjoy cooking with “alternative proteins” for my husband.  We’ve always eaten a lot of tofu, but I’ve only recently started experimenting with tempeh . . . and it’s good!

Tempeh Wild Rice Pesto BurgerTempeh is made from whole fermented soybeans that are packed into a cake that’s easy to slice and cook with.   I really like Lightlife’s tempeh,  especially the one that’s combined with wild rice.  Wild rice adds a lovely nutty flavor, which is so yummy!  So I’m very happy to report that this tempeh “burger” is superb and is an absolutely perfect for vegetarian guests at your next food gathering!  This weekend, maybe?  Would be delicious with the Chipotle Parmesan French Fries!

And for your non-vegetarian guests, I’m bringing on the meat tomorrow!

Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh (preferably Lightlife’s Organic Wild Rice Tempeh)
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted almond slivers (roast at 350 F for about 7 minutes)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 large egg
Olive oil for the pan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tempeh Wild Rice Pesto BurgerAdd the tempeh, basil leaves, almonds, cheese, and garlic to a food processor, with the blade attachment.  Pureé until there’s a fine crumble, then gradually add in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste and agave nectar.  Once everything is combined, add the egg, blend until relatively smooth, and season with a bit of salt and pepper.

With any burger, it’s important to do a “seasoning test” before making all of them.  Heat a bit of olive oil in your sauté pan, and once it’s hot, place a very small amount (about 1 tablespoon or less) of the tempeh mixture in the pan.  Sauté until it’s cooked through, about 1 minute per side.    Now, taste!  Does it need more salt and pepper?  Adjust the seasonings, and then shape the mixture into 6 evenly-sized “burgers” — each one should be about 1/2-inch thick. Place them on parchment paper as you work, so it’s easy to pick them up when you’re ready to cook.

Tempeh Wild Rice Pesto BurgerCoat a large sauté pan with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the “burgers” to the pan.  You should hear a sizzling sound when they hit the oil — if you don’t, wait until you do!  Cook until nicely browned, and they are cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Print recipe.


If you like (or like me, love) kale, you can substitute the basil, almonds, cheese, garlic and extra virgin olive oil with about a half cup of my Kale Spinach Pesto!

Oh, and did you notice I don’t use any bread crumbs in these?  They’re 100% gluten-free!

P.S. Tempeh is packed with protein!

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  1. says

    Hi Valentina! I am not a big fan of faux meats, believe it or not, but we will eat them on occasion. They taste great, but we are trying to eat foods in their most natural state if possible. I LOVE lightlife foods. We’ve bought their “turkey” slices before and omg you would think it’s turkey. We’ve also bought Frieda’s soy chorizo which we’ve had very good luck with. Thanks for the Tempeh recommendation!

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