Veggie burgers don’t always have to be seen as a second-rate meat substitute; at their best they have a wholesome, not-too-filling-but-still-satisfying vegetable-y goodness. From a culinary perspective, veggie burgers are just a savory vegetable croquette topped with all of the delicious trimmings of a burger. The freezer section of your local grocery probably has its own section devoted to various veggie burgers: from hard-core processed soy to what appears to be squat alfalfa pellets. One thing they share is cost: being a more processed food they are much more expensive than their constituent ingredients. I wanted a veggie burger that was made of wholesome veggies, has a pleasant texture and most importantly a big enough flavor to deserve the name burger.
That’s why I started with mushrooms- their big meaty taste seemed like a logical point of departure. I chose the smaller siblings of portobellos, cremini (1$ per pound cheaper!) but portobellos would work the same way. The mushrooms are cooked with garlic, and then chopped up in a food processor with cooked lentils, olive oil and breadcrumbs and an egg to help hold the whole thing together. Shape the patties, freeze and voila! Delicious veggie burgers cooked straight from the freezer. Perfect for a busy weeknight dinner or a backyard barbecue.
8 c. cremini mushrooms, stemmed and brushed clean (save mushroom stems for making vegetable broth)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 T. olive oil
2 c. savory cooked lentils (see recipe) or you could substitute canned, cooked lentils.
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. breadcrumbs
the juice from half of a lemon.
10 large burgers
Mince garlic. Coarsely chop mushrooms (1/4-1/2″ thick). Toss chopped mushrooms with the minced garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil into a large frying pan and place over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, cover and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until the mushrooms have released their juices and are soft. Remove the cover and gently stir the mushrooms. Simmer until the juices are almost gone and the mushrooms are soft and dark.
Set aside half of the cooked mushrooms in a bowl. Place the other half of the mushrooms and all of the rest of the ingredients into your food processor. Pulse until thoroughly combined and pulverized, scraping down the sides if necessary. Add the reserved mushrooms and pulse until these mushrooms are chopped and well incorporated, but still have some visible chunks (this adds some texture variation to the burger).
Dip your hands in cold water and shape the veggie puree into burger-sized patties. Place patties on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate the burgers, uncovered, overnight to allow the surface of the burger to dry out.
Using kitchen shears, cut the sheet of parchment into squares beneath each burger. Stack patties with parchment squares separating each burger. Thoroughly wrap burgers and store in the freezer.
You can cook these burgers by any method you would normally cook a burger. You’ll get the best results by starting with a high heat ( 1-2 minutes per side) Then reduce the heat to low to warm the middle of the patty. If you are grilling or pan frying the burgers, brush the surface of the burger with oil first to prevent sticking.