How do you define the ultimate vegan burger?
Is it the one with the best flavor? Is it the one with a texture closest to a hamburger? Is it the mouth feel?
Sadly, most commercial vegan burgers I’ve tried fail on all these criteria. They tend to be firm like ground beef, but sometimes they can be rubbery. Plus, store-bought vegan burgers are designed to appeal to the broadest audience, so they often lack any complexity of flavor.
I’ve been playing around with different vegan burger recipes trying to find one that has both the right texture and a lot of flavor. The biggest challenge has been finding a recipe that holds together without becoming crumbly when you cook it.
Ground beef has fat which binds the burger together, but vegan burgers tend to be low-fat or fat-free. Mashed up beans make a good binder, but they also can make the vegan burger taste pasty. Freezing the patties prior to cooking them will hold them together in the skillet or on the grill, but the burgers will still be crumbly once they are on the bun.
This recipe has plenty of flavor, plus it is made in the food processor. That combined with the beets make it bright red so that it actually looks like ground beef.
But it was still kind of crumbly. I thought the oatmeal would bind it better — and it did absorb a lot of the liquid — and the end result was delicious but could still be improved.
I served it with an Israeli couscous salad, which is pretty much the same recipe as the quinoa salad I made the other day, except I used Israeli couscous instead of quinoa, I used rice wine vinegar instead of lemon juice in the dressing, I included diced beets (which sort of stained it red), and I topped it with crumbled Gorgonzola. It was delicious.
Israeli couscous is just like regular couscous — both are made with granules of toasted pasta — except the granules are much larger. Plus it’s from Israel.
3 cups brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup oatmeal, dry
1/2 cup lentils, cooked (okay, I used canned!)
1/2 cup carrots, rough chop
1/2 cup red onion, rough chop
1 medium beet, cooked and peeled, rough chop
1/4 cup celery, stem and leaves, rough chop
1/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced
2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined, then run the food processor until the mixture has the consistency of ground beef.
2. Remove to mixing bowl. Portion and shape into 8 oz patties and place on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Cover with a second sheet of wax paper and place in refrigerator overnight. This helps the patties to firm up so they won’t fall apart when you cook them.
3. Cook in a cast iron skillet or on the grill until cooked through. Serve on whole wheat buns with burger set ups — red leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and sliced red onion — and big kosher pickles on the side.
Have you found a great vegan burger? Help us out by sharing the recipe in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!