Lukas Volger: Veggie Burgers

Many cooks wouldn’t think of reaching for a cookbook for a burger recipe. They are too easy to make, and it’s easy to think of variations, like adding different kinds of ground meat or toppings — or finding inspiration in the variations in any good burger restaurant.

But what about veggie burgers?

Lukas Volger
‘s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way (The Experiment 2010) offers so many varied recipes for burgers that don’t contain meat, that it takes him a while to get to a definition of what a veggie burger is:

What these burgers have in common is that they are all unique expressions of the colors, textures, and tastes of the assorted fresh ingredients from which they are prepared–and that they started out as seeds in the ground. (p. xvii)

Veggie burgers are hard to define because they can be made from so many ingredients even whole vegetables.

The first chapter covers the basics – choosing ingredients, shaping and cooking the burgers. The follow chapters covers bean, grain, and nut burgers. These recipes are probably familiar in other guises to many cookssince many Middle Eastern cuisines make kofte or cutlets out of beans as well as meat. There is the highly spiced Armenian Lentil Burgers (p. 34) made with French green lentils that are cooked with cloves, ginger and garlic and then mashed with aromatic spices like cinnamon and allspice, and more cloves, garlic, and and cayenne.

The next chapters includes recipes made with vegetables. The vibrantly colored Beet and Brown Rice Burger (p. 59) includes black or red beans and brown rice. The Spinach-Chickpea Burgers (p. 77) reminiscent of Baked Falafel Burgers (p. 35) but with a lovely green hue and plenty of cumin.

The next chapter, Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, and TVP Burgers includes some faux-meat burgers like Smoked Tofu Burgers (p. 101) that could be a stand-in for BBQ for vegetarian friends.

Veggie Burgers Every Which Way includes a chapter on burger buns and fixings like pickles, salads, and fries, and a final chapter on sauces. If you are trying to cut back on meat and want to use up some of your vegetable gardens’ great produce in another way, veggie burgers will help inspire you. Who knows, maybe the next big thing after the DB Royale is a DB veggie burger?

RECIPE: Beet and Brown Rice Burgers)

3 medium beets, scrubbed clean, ends trimmed
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cup cooked black or red beans
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Makes 6 4-inch burger
1. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater blade of your food processor, grate the beets. (It’s not necessary to peel them first).
2. In a large, lidded saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens and begins to look translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the beets and salt and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the beets are completely softened. Add the vinegar, toss to combine, and scrape up the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a mixing bowl, coarsely mash the beans with a potato masher or fork. Fold in the beet mixture, the rice, parsley, and black pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings. Shape into six patties, flattening to a 1/2-inch thickness.
4. In a saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add the patties, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding. They should sizzle–this creates a nice crust. Cook for 1 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip the burgers and cook until browned and firm, 4 to 5 minutes longer.
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes
(from Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way)

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