Cauliflower-Quinoa Sliders with Vegetarian Special Sauce

Prepare to be amazed!! These sliders are truly ridiculous. Made with cauliflower, quinoa, brown rice, herbs/spices, and regular or vegan parm, they're intensely flavorful, super moist in the middle, crispy on the outside, and wickedly addictive. Plus, they're gluten-free and vegan friendly. Freakin' easy too. 

And I mean E.A.S.Y. First, you blanch the entire head of cauliflower in boiling water. No messy floret pieces all over your kitchen. Then, the tender florets or pureed with everything else in the food processor, in one fell swoop. The mixture comes together so fast... Then it's chilled, shaped and cooked to perfection, first on the stovetop and then in the oven (you can actually skip the stovetop part and add 5 minutes to the oven cooking time; you'll lose the seared exterior but that's it). I served the sliders on buns AND, for a gluten-free option, on lettuce leaves. 
This is a terrific make-ahead recipe if you like to operate that way (I certainly do). You can make and shape the patties as instructed, arrange them on the baking sheet and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before cooking. 

About the quinoa and brown rice: I used 4 microwave-ready cups (two 8.8 ounce packages) of Minute Rice Organic Red Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic. You can also use a pre-cooked rice in a pouch, like Seeds of Change Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic. Alternately, you can use any combination of cooked brown rice and quinoa - you'll need a total of about 4 cups.

For vegan sliders, replace each egg with a flax egg. Combine 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal/ground raw flaxseeds and 2 1/2 tablespoons of water for EACH flax egg (you need 2 eggs for the sliders). Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using. 

For vegan or dairy-free sliders, use vegan parmesan cheese (which tastes just like regular parm!). 

Cauliflower-Quinoa Sliders with Vegetarian Special Sauce 

1 head cauliflower
2 (8.8 ounce) containers pre-cooked red quinoa and brown rice (see note above), heated according to package directions
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (for gluten-free sliders, use ground oats)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for vegan sliders, use vegan parmesan cheese)
2 large eggs, or 2 "flax eggs", see note above
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cooking spray
16 slider buns or dinner rolls, halved crosswise
For the vegetarian special sauce: 
1/2 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet relish or diced sweet pickles
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional slider toppings:
Sliced tomato

To make the sliders, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower (the whole head) and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain, when cool enough to handle, separate the head into florets. Transfer the florets to a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add the remaining slider ingredients and process until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cool and firm enough to shape into patties, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Coat a large stovetop griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. 
Shape the cauliflower mixture into 16 patties, each about 1-inch thick. Add the patties to the hot griddle and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the patties to the prepared baking pan and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until cooked through (patties will no longer be soft in the middle). 
To make the special sauce, combine all the ingredients and mix well. 
Serve the sliders on buns with the special sauce spooned over top. 
Makes 16 sliders