Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Perfect Vegan Burger!

For me, the perfect veggie burger holds its shape but isn't rubbery. It's full of flavor and packed with nutritious protein and not just filler. It's versatile and can be dressed however I prefer and doesn't have one overwhelming flavor that I'd get tired of. Ideally, it would hold up in a pan, in the oven, and even on the grill. while I don't recommend cooking these on a grill without first putting them on a pan, they really fit the bill on all fronts!

I was inspired by Melody of Melomeals's Three Ingredient Burger and used her Onion Soup Mix Replacer recipe to season my burgers, but there is certainly room to add herbs and spices to tailor them and create a whole list of various flavors. Instead of just using oats and beans, I used her guide of five cups of protein but decided to use quinoa (everything's better with quinoa, right?), rolled oats, tofu (because I seem to always have a partial block ready and waiting wrapped in a dish towel in the 'fridge), and beans (to help bind them). I added onions because they're my secret ingredient in a lot of things. Okay, now not so secret. I am smitten with these burgers dressed with Veganaise, Organic Ketchup, and chopped dill pickle on Sami's Bakery GF Sourdough Millet Bread (that I toast in a skillet with a light spray of olive oil).

I have made these from raw patty to pan on the grill or baked in the oven. I make them all at once and individually wrap them for future cooking (in a pan misted with oil). They freeze beautifully and are best, if frozen, when allowed to thaw first before cooking.

Out of the oven, they will appear a bit dry on the outside. If you're going to eat them right away, I place a large glass bowl over the ones I intend to serve as they cool as it helps get moisture back into them. If using for a later date, wrap cooled burgers individually and when cooked in a hot pan sprayed with oil, heat one side for a few minutes, add a T of water to the pan and cover for about thirty seconds to lock in some moisture, flip carefully, and allow to brown for a few minutes on the other side.

I have made these three times now, twice with chickpeas as my bean, once with cannellini beans. Both varieties came out perfectly, and I really couldn't tell the difference. I've really fallen in love with them and they are now my go-to burger. Every omni who has eaten them has also loved them, a testament to their yumminess and ability to deliver great texture for a veggie burger, something so many homemade recipes fail to deliver, I've found.

My Favorite Vegan Burger
makes 6-8 largish burgers

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I use a blend of red and white)
1 1/2 cups extra firm tofu, excess water squeezed out
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup white beans (I used canned, rinsed)
1 sweet onion, chopped (large, small, it doesnt really matter)
1 batch Melody's Onion Soup Mix Recipe
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil (I use a Misto)

375 oven
Mist frying pan with oil and set to medium. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute, bumping down the heat a touch, careful not to burn the garlic, until onions are browning and beginning to caramelize. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tofu, beans and Soup Mix ingredients. Add onions and garlic when done and blend with immersion blender until it becomes smooth paste (you can do this in a food processor as well). Stir in cooked quinoa and oats and mix until everything is incorporated. Mixture should be sticky.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray lightly with oil. Shape handfulls of burger mixture (maybe 3/4 cup, approximately. I have small hands. I always end up with 7-8 burgers if you prefer to divide accordingly first. See why i'll never be a cookbook author? :) into balls and then into patties. Mixture should stick together well, work on binding cracks on edges with your hands. I've yet to have a problem with the mixture not coming together beautifully. Spray tops of patties lightly with oil and bake for fifteen minutes. Carefully flip* and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They will seem crisp on the outside. I always think they've dried out and will be terrible. Never have they been. Allow to cool completely, cover any you plan to use immediately so that they will steam in a bit of moisture as they cool and you prep your bread or buns and fixin's. Any you plan to use later or freeze, wrap individually and store. To heat refrigerated or thawed burgers, set heat on burner to medium and lightly spray a pan with oil. Cook patty for a couple minutes, add a T of water, cover for thirty seconds. Remove cover, flip, and brown other side for a couple minutes.

Dress as you please and enjoy! I most often have them on toasted bread with a big side of boiled kale or a salad. So satisfying!

*I use a large spatula and slide it under the pattie. I take a dough scraper (one could use another spatula, but I only own one right now) and flip it onto that one that is at an angle and ease it back onto the pan to avoid fully flipping it with one utensil. The patties at this point are very fragile, but if they do fall apart, are still sticky enough to mold back together. Just do so with caution as they are HOT. They won't be as pretty as your original shape, but they will stick back together.

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