I saw it in The New York Times last week – a recipe for “The Ultimate VeggieBurger.” The recipe is by Melissa Clark. When I saw it, I wanted to try it, but there was just one problem. My daughter is vegan, and this recipe calls for eggs and cheese, both of which are by definition not part of a vegan diet. So I altered the recipe to make it vegan by using an egg substitute as well as a cheese substitute. I put all the ingredients together on Friday night, placed the mixture in the refrigerator overnight, then fired up the grill on Saturday.
|Photo by Andrew Scrivani |
for The New York Times
The Ultimate Veggie Burger
By Melissa Clark
You make a veggie burger because you want the hamburger experience without the meat. This one
delivers. It’s got a firm, beefy texture that takes on the char and smoke of the grill, but is adaptable
enough to cook inside on your stove. The enemy of a veggie burger is mushiness, which stems from a
high moisture content. To combat that, the very watery ingredients – mushrooms, tofu, beans and
beets – are roasted to both dehydrate them somewhat and intensify their flavors. Yes, the ingredient
list here is long; you need a diverse lot to make a good veggie burger. And each one adds something
in terms of flavor and/or texture. Garnish this any way you like, and don’t forget to toast the buns.
- 4 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
- Olive oil
- 1 /2 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
- Black pepper, as needed
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 medium beet, peeled and coarsely grated (3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup tamari almonds or cashews
- 1 /3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 ounces Cotija cheese or queso blanco, crumbled or grated (about 1 /2 cup)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dulce pimentón or sweet smoked paprika
- 4 ounces tempeh, crumbled
- 1 /2 cup cooked brown rice
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice tofu into 1/4-inch-thick slabs and pat dry with paper towel.
Arrange tofu on one half of a rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with oil. Spread mushrooms
on the other half of the baking sheet; toss with 2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper.
2. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss beans and grated beet with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and
pepper, then spread the mixture into one layer.
3. Transfer both baking sheets to the oven. Roast bean-beet mixture, tossing occasionally, until
beans begin to split and beets are tender and golden, about 15 minutes. Roast mushrooms and
tofu until golden and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Let everything cool.
4. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add cooled bean-beet mixture,
mushrooms, tofu, panko, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, scallion, garlic, pimentón and 3/4 teaspoon
salt. Pulse until ingredients are just combined. Pulse in tempeh and rice but do not overprocess.
You want small chunks, not a smooth mixture. Scrape mixture into a bowl and chill at least 2
hours or up to 5 days (you can also freeze the burger mix).
5. When you are ready to make the burgers, divide mixture into 6 equal portions and form each
portion into a patty about 1 inch thick. Return to the fridge until just before grilling. They grill
better when they start out cold.
6. Heat the grill. Cook the burgers over a low fire until they are charred on both sides and firm
when you press on them, 4 to 6 minutes per side. If they start to burn before they firm up, move
them to the sides of the grill to finish cooking over indirect heat. Alternatively, you can cook these
on a grill pan or in a skillet over low heat.
YIELD: 6 Burgers
* * *
When I made this recipe, I made two changes – I replaced the eggs and cheese to allow for a vegan diet. For the eggs, I used an egg substitute called Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I recently discovered this product at The Golden Temple Natural Grocery and Cafe on Birmingham's Southside and have had good success with it in baking. Eggs serve as a binder, and Egg Replacer uses potato starch and tapioca flour to do the same thing. For the cheese, I used a cheese substitute that I found in the supermarket in the vegetarian section (Go Veggie is the brand name) . The product is made of soy protein and claims to have the same melting and stretching qualities as cheese.
The burgers did fine on the outside grill. I cooked them a little longer than the recipe suggests, but I think that is because my grill is higher off the coals than some. The only word of caution I will add is that in my experience, the burgers sank a little bit below the grid on the grill. My first attempt at flipping a burger sheared of the portions that were below the grill spindles. I found that by moving the spatula parallel with the grill lines, I could lift the end of burger slightly and hold it up while I moved the spatula under the burger. With that adjustment in technique, the grilling proceeded with success.
[Addendum (July, 2016): In making my vegan version of these veggie burgers, I have found a better egg substitute -- chia seed. While the Ener- G Egg replacer is excellent for baking, chia seed does better for these burgers. Just use one tablespoon of ground chia seed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water (so for this recipe, I used 2 Tbls of chia seed in 6 Tbles of water). I used a mortar and pestle to grind them. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and you have a nice gel to add to the mix. Using chia seed not only added more nutrition to the burgers, it also made them firmer and easier to handle on the grill.]