Veggie Burgers. That sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it. When I hear the word Veggie, I think of things like, healthy, vegetables, Vegetarians, etc. When I hear the word Burgers, I think of things like back yard BBQ’s, cows, In & Out Burger, and also in the back of my mind…fat, cholesterol, unhealthy for the heart, etc.
I grew up eating hamburgers. Growing up in the South and Midwest portion of the United States, there were lots of cows and we ate a lot of hamburgers. Everything from Fast food hamburgers like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s to the gourmet burgers found in little known hole in the wall places. Every year for our birthday’s, whether it was my Mom, Dad, brother, or me, we would go to this little place called the Parkway in Holland, Michigan. In Hickory, North Carolina, it was the Windy City Grill where everyone went after school and on weekends. We all called it Homer’s. Long before Homer Simpson ever came around. They had the best one’s in town. It was one of those places that had been around for years and everyone came there for their burgers. Then, during the Summer, every backyard BBQ was stocked full of juicy, mouth watering, homemade hamburgers. I never really thought about the perils of eating this classic American culinary delight.
I never had a veggie burger as a kid, what was the point. No restaurant carried them, my Mom never bought them at the store and I guess I hadn’t really heard of them before or really even saw a reason to eat one. Then through life and experience and all of the articles and documentaries and stories that I heard over the years, I began to get this feeling that maybe a hamburger isn’t such a good thing to be eating all the time. Stories of heart attacks and obesity rates and lethargy, all somehow related to the consumption of red meat caused me to cut back on my indulgence of this great American pastime.
Then, I moved to California, started practicing yoga, and dating a vegetarian. Now I rarely eat a good old fashioned hamburger. Remember Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Pulp Fiction, when he said, “my girlfriend’s a vegetarian, so that pretty much makes me a vegetarian” Well, that’s pretty much me right now.
I still have the craving for them though. I guess it’s years of mental and physical programming. Also the fact that they taste good. I will usually indulge in a quality one every few months. I believe it’s my body telling me I need the iron and protein and other nutrients that it provides. At least that’s what I tell myself. Someday, I may go completely vegetarian, but I’m not there yet. I am now very conscious of the burgers that I choose to eat though. I also make sure I bless my food and thank the cow for sacrificing it’s life. Currently my top choice for a burger is from Simmzy’s in downtown Manhattan Beach (Delicious burgers that come from grass fed cows in the Midwest).
So, how do I satisfy this craving for a good hearty burger without actually eating one? That may be a question many of you are asking yourselves. Especially if you’ve tried to order a veggie burger from a restaurant or gotten one from the frozen food section of the grocery store.
- Veggie Burger selection from Trader Joe’s
Let’s be honest, there isn’t much out there that is very satisfying in my opinion. They all seem thin and not very flavorful. Plus, if you read the nutritional information on the back of the box, there isn’t even much protein, which is what you get from the red meat of a hamburger.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own. I have been experimenting over the last couple of years with different styles and varieties. I wanted to maximize the flavor and nutrition, as well as give that Umami satisfaction that comes from eating a burger. Without any of the guilt or fat or cholesterol that also comes from consuming the animal product.
I recently enjoyed my favorite version so far and would like to share with you how delicious they were and how easy they were to make. I got the basis for this recipe from the back of a bag of Organic Tri Color Quinoa, then added a bunch of things and took a few out. I have found this is a great way to cook. Use a recipe for the foundation and then modify it to your liking and preferences. I made these gluten free. So the recipe called for bread crumbs and an egg (beaten). Without the bread crumbs, the egg is not necessary. If you decide to use them. Add them in at then end, just before forming the patties.
The following is the Gluten free and vegan version.
First, here is what you need…Note, I used all Organic ingredients
3 cups Quinoa (rinsed and cooked)
1 can black beans (drained)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 onion (diced)
red, green, yellow, or orange pepper (diced)
1 carrot, zuchinni, yellow squash (quartered into 1/2″ slices)
I find it easiest to get the quinoa going first. I rinse it and then get it cooking.
- Cook Quinoa 2 parts water or broth to 1 part Quinoa
While the quinoa is cooking, I chop up the onion, garlic, and peppers. I add some olive oil to the skillet and then…Saute’ the onions, garlic and peppers.
- sautee in olive oil
While that is going I blanche the carrots and squash. You could also add celery or different colored peppers. I prefer the orange, yellow, and red, but this day I only had the green, so that’s what I used.
Chelsea, tasting the veggies, to make sure they are done. Note, the recipe in the background that I used as my base. I prep all my ingredients first, so the beans have been drained and are awaiting their turn. I didn’t end up using the egg. If I were going to use the bread crumbs I probably would have, but since I didn’t, it wasn’t needed to bind everything together.
I then took the veggies, black beans, and onion, garlic, pepper sauté and put them in the immersion blender that my sister in law gave me last year. If you don’t have one of these in your kitchen, I highly recommend it. It has so many great uses. Making soups, veggie burgers, etc. It’s just as effective as a food processor, but much easier to clean.
In the past, I have added cooked beets at this time and it gives the veggie burger the look of red meat when its done and also adds some great nutrients.
After that has all been blended up, I add it to the quinoa and mix it all together. Adding salt and pepper and any other spices at this time. Feel free to get creative with your spices.
Next, I form the mix into patties and put into the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This is also where you would add the egg and the bread crumbs if you’re using them. However, it’s really not necessary.
After taking them out of the refrigerator, add some olive oil to the skillet and fry them up. An iron skillet would be ideal if you have one.
Then be sure to load them up just like you would a normal hamburger and voila’
Gluten Free bread, Heirloom tomatoes from our garden, cheese (guess this one’s not quite vegan) avocado and my homemade BBQ sauce. Yes, those are brussel sprouts in the background.
Now that’s a tasty burger. It has more than twice the protein of any of the veggie burgers you can buy at the store. Not to mention, Healthy, Organic, and Delicious.