I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve found that incorporating vegetarian recipes in my diet lets me reduce some calories and fat and increase my veggie intake. I insist, however, that those recipes taste good. To me, eating is like reading: With so many great books (foods) to take in, why bother with the boring and bad ones?
That led me to read with interest Joe Yonan’s recent column in The Washington Post online about his search for “the elusive homemade veggie burger.” He disdains store-bought versions that are “dry, bland or mushy disks that not even a staunch vegetarian can embrace.” He came to recommend a recipe below adapted from an option at Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, MA.
“This burger by chef Brian Van Eaten is packed with umami, thanks to the mushrooms, tamari and nutritional yeast, a vegan cheese substitute,” Yonan writes. He also shares a useful tip when making any veggie burger recipe: Bake them for a bit before frying them to help hold them together and prevent a mushy interior. After you bake them, fry or grill however many you want to eat; for the rest, refrigerate (for up to a week) or freeze (for up to six months). When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them thoroughly before pan-frying/grilling.
Another alert: Yonan says this patty mixture must be chilled for at least an hour or up to overnight before baking.
While I’m not a confident cook, I’m brave when it comes to veggie burgers. Instead of chickpeas, I’ve used smashed canned black beans and cooked lentils. To bind ingredients together, you could use a beaten egg or a baked mashed sweet potato. I’ve seen other recipes that include shredded carrot, cooked brown rice and soy protein. The goal is to achieve the proper balance of binder and “bulk” that holds together and, most important, is delicious.
Do you have a go-to veggie burger recipe? Please share!
Mushroom-chickpea veggie burgers
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms or portobello mushroom caps, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup cooked or canned no-salted-added chickpeas, lightly mashed with a fork
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium wheat-free tamari (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce)
- 3/4 cup chickpea flour, plus more as needed (may substitute all-purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (may substitute grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 8 hamburger buns
- Condiments and accompaniments of your choice
Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic are tender and lightly browned, 4 minutes. Add the thyme and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms exude their liquid, 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
When the mushroom mixture has cooled, add the chickpeas, tamari, chickpea flour, cumin, nutritional yeast and lemon juice, and stir to thoroughly combine. Taste, and add salt if needed. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour or up to overnight. If the mixture is too loose to form patties, add up to 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick cooking oil spray. Form the vegetable mixture into 8 patties, about 5 inches across and ¼ inch thick, and place the patties on the baking sheets.
Bake the patties until they feel firm to the touch and are just barely browning on the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet, and when the oil starts to shimmer, carefully add as many patties as you intend to eat, working in batches if necessary and being careful not to overcrowd them. Fry them on each side until crisp and browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer them to a cooling rack set over a plate, and blot them dry on top with paper towels.
Serve them on the buns, with your favorite condiments and accompaniments.