This past 4th of July- my fiance’ and I decided to host an all Vegan BBQ (YEY!) An arduous/exciting task to say the least, as many of our friends are non-vegan and I really wanted to make an positive impression. To me, enjoying time with good friends, in a completely cruelty free environment, is how I wanted to spend my 4th (Freedom for ALL!) But with the king staple at any BBQ being the all mighty burger-I knew I had to bring out the big guns. I decided to retire the notion of having “store bought” main dishes & sides, and went all out preparing almost everything from scratch (except the veggie dogs). When I think about any store bought veggie burgers I’ve had in the past, the main issue I have is in the texture- or lack there of. Many veggie burgers end up a mushy, pasty mess- that has to be (over)cooked to the point of no return. I ended up rummaging through dozens of online recipes, mixing and matching, until I discovered a recipe that not only delivers in the texture department, but packs a flavor punch that anyone- I mean ANYONE with operating taste buds can appreciate. Doing my own version of a vegetarian recipe, I was able to substitute the eggs with vegan mayo- and the cheese with Chao slices- making this a vegan burger PACKED with flavor and void of any animal products.
Lesson #1 in making veggie burger patties:
BAKE *INGREDIENTS prior to mixing (*beans, tofu, mushrooms). This step may seem a bit overkill, as the veggie burgers will be cooked on the grill anyhow, right? WRONG! This is a super important step- and can take your burger from a boring Blah to a brawny BLAH-DAAMMMNN! Remember, texture is right up there next to flavor, so keeping your ingredients fairly dry will enable you to pack those babies into nicely formed patties. This will give a texture and smokey flavor that will make your friends line up to ask for the recipe (I know mine did!)
- 4 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
- Olive oil
- ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- ¾ teaspoon Himalaya salt, more as needed
- Black pepper, as needed
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney (or any red) beans, drained
- ¾ cup tamari almonds or cashews (go for the tamari if you can, makes a huge UMAMI difference!)
- ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (Just Mayo)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¾ teaspoon dulce pimentón or sweet smoked paprika
- 4 ounces tempeh, crumbled
- ½ cup cooked brown rice/ or red jasmine rice (I get mine from Trader Joes, in the frozen department)
- 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.
- On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss beans with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper, then spread the mixture into one layer.
- Transfer both baking sheets to the oven. Roast bean mixture, tossing occasionally, until beans begin to split, about 15 minutes. Roast mushrooms and tofu until golden and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Let everything cool.
- Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add cooled beans, mushrooms, tofu, panko, 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).If the mixture starts to look a bit too soft, then go ahead an add more tempeh & panko flakes.
- 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.
- 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.
Finish garnishing your patties with the fixin’s: sliced tomato, onion, Just Mayo’s (chipotle), vegan cheddar (Chao) , lettuce & pretty much whatever does the trick!
YUM! I mean…come on- look at those babies!!