A veggie burger so good it’ll solve the carnivore’s dilemma

courtesy of SweetOmVeg via flickr
courtesy of SweetOmVeg via flickr
Photo By: SweetOmVeg via flickrbe

I am not a vegetarian, and yet, I am a huge fan of the veggie burger. It’s not that I don’t like regular beef burgers or even the occasional turkey burger, but when cooked correctly, a veggie burger can provide the same satisfactory burger experience with a subtle health kick at the same time.

The perfect veggie burger is hard to come across, which is why so many people often overlook this staple. Too many times, a standard veggie burger turns to mush when the mix of vegetables, beans and tofu overpower each other in flavor and turn into a bland and aggressively moist concoction.

However, all of the appealing aspects of a classic burger, such as the beefy texture and smoke from the grill can also be found in a veggie burger. The trick to veggie burgers is mastering the perfect texture that is both firm and crispy, while still maintaining a delicious taste. This goal is easily attainable when you choose to roast your veggies rather than steam them. By doing so, the vegetables will rid themselves of their excess water and simultaneously enhance their flavors.

In addition to the vegetables, the secret of this recipe relies upon not only dehydrating the vegetables, but also reducing the moisture content of the roasted beans before they are added into the mix. Then take the extra step by choosing kidney beans to guarantee a safe, but satisfactory flavor, not to mention the added dose of fiber and protein. By adding tempeh and ground nuts into the mix, the burger will achieve a unique texture in every bite. And as for appearance, incorporating roasted beets lends the burger a rosy shade which some people may be pleasantly surprised by because it looks—but doesn’t taste—like beef. The final touch which brings this veggie burger from standard to superior is the hint of collective spices.

Wait for your oven to heat up to 425 degrees, then begin the recipe by slicing your tofu into quarter-inch “sticks” and be sure that they are dry (pat them down with a paper towel). Next, arrange your tofu slices on a baking sheet so that you can brush both sides with oil, combine them with mushrooms and season the tray with two tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper.

Following this step, gather a second baking sheet where you will spread the beans and grated red beet. Once the produce is distributed onto the pan, cover the ingredients with one tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper. After preparing both trays, put both baking sheets in the oven for about 15 minutes. Be sure to toss/shift the trays around occasionally or until the beans begin to split and the beets tenderize and take on a golden shade. Using this same process, roast the mushrooms and tofu until they appear golden brown and have rid all liquid (this will take a bit longer, up to 25 minutes).

Once the tofu, beans and vegetables are ready, allow them to cool as you prepare the nuts to be mixed in. Put the nuts into a food processor and allow them to pulse until they appear to be coarsely grounded. Later, add your cooled beets, mushrooms, tofu, panko, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, scallion, garlic, pimento and salt into the mix. Although this sounds like a never-ending list of ingredients, be sure to pay close attention as you pulse this mix until the components are well combined. Next, add in the tempeh and rice, but be sure not to leave the food processor on for too long (stop at small chunks, not a single mixture). Finally, gather the new combination from the food processor into a bowl and allow it to chill for a minimum of two hours.

Once it is time to prepare the burgers, divide your mix into six portions which should be approximately one inch thick. Return the distributed mix to the fridge and allow it to chill before cooking (the mix grills better when cold). Lastly, heat up the grill and cook the burgers over low heat, or until they appear to be well smoked on both sides (this should be no more than four to six minutes on each side).

For some, this procedure might sound extensive and require a bit more attention to detail, but the actual cooking procedure is simple and most certainly worth it. Moreover, save time and freeze some of the batch for a later date—somehow, I don’t think the veggie burger fad will be going out of style any time soon.


The Ingredients

4 ounces of extra-firm tofu (drained)

Olive Oil

1/2 pound of cremini mushrooms (sliced)

3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

Black pepper

1 (15 ounce) can of kidney beans (drained)

1 medium red beet (peeled and grated into 3/4 cup)

3/4 cup of tamari almonds and/or cashews

1/3 of panko bread crumbs

2 ounces of Cotija cheese (crumbled or grated into 1/2 cup)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

2 scallions (sliced)

3 garlic cloves (chopped)

3/4 teaspoon of dulce pimentón or smoked paprika

4 ounces of tempeh (crumbled)

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

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