Quick—what’s your quintessential summer food? I’m betting that for many of us, it’s something grilled, especially burgers. I love me a good burger as much as the next gal, but I’d rather skip the cholesterol (and those complimentary hormones and antibiotics, thanks). Give me a big, juicy veggie burger instead.
I can hear the response now: veggie burgers aren’t “real” burgers, they’re too fragile, you can’t grill them, they’re bland, they taste like. . . . vegetables. Well, I’m here to show you that you can enjoy hearty (dare I say, “meaty”?) veggie burgers this summer, by following just a few quick tips.
Choose savory, umami flavors for the bulk of the burger. Mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, beans or lentils and certain nuts (walnuts and Brazil nuts spring to mind) can all transform a “too-veggie” burger into a meaty, savory treat. Paired with herbs that are often used on beef or poultry (such as sage, thyme, rosemary), they will convert the flavor into something more robust.
For a firmer burger, add plenty of binders. A good veggie burger will hold together well even when freshly cooked (though they are a bit more delicate than beef burgers, of course). Include oats, breadcrumbs, flour, ground flax or chia for binding power.
Don’t forget the protein. Just like a meat-based burger, a successful veg-based one will provide you with a good hit of protein. Try lentils, beans, tofu, nuts, or seeds for the base.
Feel free to grill your veggie burgers! The trick to grill-worthy veggie burgers is to basically double cook them. First, bake your burgers in the oven until done (some people pan-fry, which can taste lovely, but to avoid excess oils and produce a firmer burger, baking is preferred). Then—and here’s the key—cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, your burgers will remain firm and ready for that BBQ. Be sure to oil your grill first (unlike high-fat meat patties, the veggie variety will stick otherwise), then throw them on with your other burgers and join the summer party!
If you’ve never tried a veggie burger, you might just be surprised at how substantial, satisfying and savory they can be. So get your grill on—without the meat!
Some great veg-based burgers to get you started:
- Chipotle Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
- Sweet Potato and Buckwheat Burgers
- Hummus Burgers
- Classic Veggie Burgers (Soy-Free)
- Pecan-Mushroom Sliders
- Olive Lentil Burgers