Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Perfect Veggie Burger

I've made a lot of veggie burgers in my day, from bean bases to grain bases, with all sorts of nuts and seeds and veggies thrown in, but none of them seemed to satisfy.  They were either too mushy or lacked flavor...and don't even get me started on some of the pre-packaged varieties found in the freezer aisle!  Not only do I find that they tend to taste like cardboard, most have enough chemicals and processed ingredients that you'll be glowing in the dark after consumption!

I decided that my criteria for a perfect veggie burger is as follows:

  • cannot be mushy in the middle (nothing is worse than biting into a mushy veggie burger patty)
  • must hold together (I absolutely hate getting it into a pan or on the grill only to have it crumble into a million little pieces)
  • must be grill-able (hubby and I love our charcoal grill, you just can't beat the flavor that it adds to anything you throw on it)
  • must be versatile (i.e., I should be able to throw some cumin, chili powder, etc. into the mix and top with avocado and chili lime veg-mayo for a delicious Mexican style burger)
I don't think that's too much to ask for!

I remembered a while back trying a veggie meatball recipe that was a lentil and mushroom base, using wheat gluten as a binder and forming a dough-like mixture.  If it worked for the meatballs, why couldn't it work for a burger?  Plus, lentils and mushrooms are both mild enough in flavor that you could easily adapt the recipe to make them any style you like.

And with that, I got to work and the perfect veggie burger was born!

"Meaty" flavors are added from the mushrooms, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, while sunflower seeds add a satisfying crunch.  This burger is perfect for a hot summer night when you don't want to turn on your oven or use the stove since they hold up fabulously to the grill! I like to serve topped with fresh arugula and vegan garlic aioli on homemade flatbread with a side of grilled corn.

The Perfect Veggie Burger
Makes 12 patties

2 flax eggs (2 1/2 tbsp flax + 6 tbsp water)
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup lentils, cooked
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup oats, ground into a flour
3 slices Ezekiel bread, processed into crumbs
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup wheat gluten

First, make your flax egg and set aside to thicken.  In a medium sauce pan, add oil and sautee onion over medium heat until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sautee for about 15-30 seconds.  Remove veggies from the pan and set aside.

In a food processor, add lentils and mushrooms and process until very well blended.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add sunflower seeds, ground oats, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and ground mustard.  Stir well until combined.  Next, add your soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flax egg and broth and stir.  Once all of the ingredients are well combined, add the wheat gluten, using your hands to knead until a stretchy, dough-like substance is formed.  You may need to add a bit more wheat gluten if your mixture is still wet, or a bit more broth if it becomes to firm.

Form the dough into 12 patties.  These burgers freeze well (we thought that they tasted even better after hanging out in the freezer for a few days) if you aren't going to use them right away.  

I recommend either heating them in a skillet (I prefer cast iron) with a little bit of oil over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side or cooking them on the grill.   

Have you tried any of my recipes?  I'd love your feedback!  Please leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out!

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