Resolved: The Best Homemade Veggie Burger
For some time, friends and readers have been asking me to share a recipe for a good, easy to make, homemade veggie burger. And so my New Year’s Resolution this year was to make good on my promises to do so. (Besides, it’s a heck of a lot easier than losing weight.)
As it turns out, there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there with the available options. Most commercial offerings have gluten or soy; ingredients which many people avoid by choice or necessity. And most recipes for homemade versions are incredibly time-consuming, multi-step ordeals; I still have nightmares about the 2-hour Shutter’s veggie burger project I took on two summers ago that involved cooking brown rice from scratch (45 minutes), cooking beets from scratch (1 hour), and mixing them with a laundry list of hard-to-find-GF-versions-of pantry items* to produce a delicious but exhausting veggie burger. Then there was that Martha Stewart Chickpea burger that tasted suspiciously similar to falafel. (Tasty…but if I had wanted falafel, I would have just made falafel…). I had all but given up on finding a tasty, easy homemade burgery veggie burger until the most recent article in a recent New York Times series on the safety (or lack thereof) of ground beef sold in America provided the second wind I needed to find a delicious, easy, healthful ground beefless recipe for my dear readers to make at home.
Resolved: Eat Less Red Meat in 2010
Even if you’re not a vegetarian, swapping out a beefy burger for a meatless one every so often will do you good– and help you make good on those New Year’s Resolutions to start eating more healthily. In a landmark study of over 550,000 people aged 50-71 years (that’s crazy huge, by the way) by Sinha et al published in March, 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers followed subjects for 10 years to determine how various dietary factors contributed to mortality. They controlled for all sorts of factors, including race, smoking, alcohol use, weight, exercise habits, vitamin use and multiple dietary habits. And they found that men and women who ate more red meat were 31% and 36%, respectively, more likely to die for any reason during the 10 year period when compared to people to ate the least red meat. Cancer was the leading cause of mortality, followed by cardiovascular disease. On average, the group with the lowest red meat consumption ate only about 1/3 of an ounce per 1,000 calories in their diet, compared with the highest meat consumption group, which ate about 2.5 oz red meat per 1,000 calories in their diet. In other words, in a typical 2,000 calorie diet, the lowest-risk group ate less than 1 oz red meat per day on average (~4.5 oz per week), versus the highest risk group who ate about 5oz per day (~17 oz per week). The results were statistically significant for trend, meaning that even reducing red meat consumption somewhat from the highest level (without going as low as the lowest-intake level) was still associated with a reduced risk of death.
The bottom line: swapping out one average beef burger a week with a meatless version brings you 3-6oz closer to the group whose dietary habits have been associated with the lowest risk of death within 10 years. And what better New Year’s Resolution than to live past New Year’s 2020?
The Best Homemade Veggie Burger Recipe
And so, after countless veggie burger experiments, spanning several years and multiple genres, I’m pleased to point you in the direction of Mollie Katzen’s Lentil-Walnut Burger. I know what you’re thinking when you hear “lentil-walnut.” You’re thinking about long-
haired tree huggers. 70’s style health food stores that smell like vitamins. Hemp, bean sprouts and Birkenstocks. But do try to keep an open mind. Mollie loves food, and she knows food. As such, this burger tastes nothing of lentils or walnuts; it’s greater than the sum of its parts. The batter has a similar texture and appearance to ground beef–it looks like a beef burger when cooking and when cooked. Not in the creepy Boca Burger way, but in a ‘it definitely feels burgery rather than bean-pattyish’ way. The burgers have that same savory, umami flavor profile of a beef burger–delivered by the cider vinegar and mushrooms?–rather than the more bean-and-vegetably flavor typical of a veggie burger. And you can make the whole batter in the time it takes to cook lentils: 30 minutes flat. (If I may offer a tip: mash the cooked lentils with your hands–squeeze ’em real good until they’re totally mush. It helps make a very coherent batter.) So give this tie-dyed, hippie burger a chance, will you?
To make Mollie’s recipe gluten-free you have several options instead of the bread crumbs/wheat germ/oats she calls for:
- Use gluten free breadcrumbs, like Gillian’s, Hol-Grain, or Glutino
- Use gluten-free oats, like Bob’s Red Mill
- Use the Quinoa Flakes you have leftover from making my gluten-free Quatzoh Balls (of course this will make the recipe more hippie than it is already)
- Make your own gluten-free breadcrumbs by toasting your favorite frozen gluten-free waffle and tossing it in a food processor (Click here for instructions from the clever gluten-free goddess who came up with this nifty idea
Approximate nutrition info per burger (assumes each recipe makes 6 burgers and you use 1 TBSP of oil to cook the burgers in a non-stick pan. Excludes bun.): 250 calories, 29g carbohydrate–of which 10 huge grams are fiber (so, a net of 19g of carbohydrate–or one and a half diabetic exchanges), 11g protein, 12g (heart-healthy, unsaturated) fat, and 3.8mg iron (~20% of the daily value of 18mg). Serve with ketchup and a slice of tomato to help absorb the iron from the beans and spinach.
** If I haven’t scared you away from the Shutter’s recipe and you’re up for the challenge, you can substitute Wheat-free Tamari sauce for the soy sauce. Premier Japan makes a gluten-free Hoisin sauce. And use any of the bread-crumb-replacement strategies listed above in place of the oat bran or wheat germ she calls for. And for goodness sake, use canned beets instead of roasting your own fresh ones as I foolishly did and you can redeem that extra hour of your life to play Rhythm Kung Fu on the Wii Fit Plus you got for Christmas.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.