With Memorial Day just around the corner, it's time to talk about burgers (again). Yes, I know I just wrote about all-beef patties, but you don't need meat to make a tasty burger. Veggie burgers can be just as delicious as their beef counterparts, and healthier too.
Now when I say veggie burgers, I do not mean garden burgers. Just like any mass-produced food, frozen garden burgers are a quick commercially-made alternative to a true veggie burger. Making homemade vegetarian burgers is not much more difficult than preparing beef burgers (especially if you have a food processor) and you can modify the recipe for your own tastes and preferences. Plus they aren't full of sodium (unlike the frozen varieties).
There are numerous ways to make veggie burgers. Whether using mushrooms, vegetables, tofu or beans as a base, each recipe has something different to offer. I like making my burgers with beans because the texture, when pulsed in a food processor, is really perfect for shaping into patties. I also just like the flavor of beans. Other ingredients I tend to use are walnuts (which provide both substance and flavor), spinach (which helps bind the burger), carrots and onions. You'll also need to mix in a dry ingredient or the burger will disintegrate into the pan when you try to fry it (trust me on this as I've had it happen). The good news is that you can really use whatever you'd like, from bread crumbs to oatmeal, rice, bulgur or couscous (which is what I used when preparing the recipe below this week as I had some leftover from dinner the night before).
Seasonings are really whatever you want. If using black beans, try a tsp of cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro. If you want something with an Italian flavor, use cannellini beans and then add in some sun dried tomatoes and basil. Other flavorings could be chili powder, turmeric, curry powder, ginger, soy sauce or a variety of herbs. It's your burger, so mix in whatever sounds good.
Keep in mind that veggie burgers need to be cooked and prepared a little differently than meat burgers. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Don't over process the ingredients or else the burger will fall apart
- Cook in a nonstick pan (I use my cast-iron pans)
- Fry your burgers in a little bit of oil
- Handle your burgers carefully as veggie burgers are more fragile than meat burgers and tend to fall apart
- Chill your burgers before cooking (if time allows) as they will maintain their shape better
- Start off cooking in a hot skillet and then reduce the heat
- If you accidentally over process the beans, just add more dry ingredients
- Taste the bean mixture before adding the egg so you can determine if you have seasoned everything to your liking
Following is my bean burger recipe along with some links to other types of veggie burgers that you may find interesting. Some are vegan, some vegetarian and all worth considering.
*Apparently Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies (who knew?) so if you'd like to keep this vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute soy sauce.