Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Say No to Frozen Veggie Burgers

I've been a vegetarian (ok, a reluctant pescetarian) for 20 years. At first, I was completely appalled by the idea of eating any type of "fake" meat. Why would anyone choose to eat fake meat and be a vegetarian? If I wanted the taste of meat, I'd rather have the real thing. Well, as time went on, I went to the dark side and indulged in all sorts of things found in the frozen food isle and refrigerated sections - "bacon", "hot dogs", and "burgers" were the ones most purchased.  The funny thing is, these were items that I didn't eat much of even when I was a meat eater. It started out with the kitsch factor, and then it was about convenience.

After learning more about what was in these prepared food items (and by learning, I mean simply reading the ingredients on the box) and going on an elimination diet to find out what foods may be exacerbating my hay fever symptoms, I swore off veggie burgers.

But what is one to do when there is a BBQ to attend? There are many options, like grilled vegetables or tofu. Yet sometimes, a burger type food, something that can be eaten with your hands between two pieces of bread product, is the only thing you desire.

Mark Bittman to the rescue! I tried one of his base bean burger recipes and made some for tonight's BBQ. Although we didn't make it to the BBQ, we did cook them on the stove in a pan with olive oil. Simply delicious, ridiculously easy, and so much cheaper than buying pre-made. And the best part of all, you know every ingredient that went into your tasty burgers.

photo credit, DG
 1st Try at a Home Made Veggie Burger (Mark Bittman saves the day!)
  • 2 cups cooked lentils (I cooked mine with a dried lime in the water)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small red onion (quartered)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt + fresh ground black pepper
  • hand ground cumin + coriander seeds
  • cayenne pepper
  • handful of parsley
  • handful of mushrooms
  • some feta cheese
Put everything in your food processor. Pulse until it comes together nicely (don't over do it!) - must be a nice balance of wet and dry or else it will fall apart when you cook and/or the texture will be all wrong. After it's all burger like, let it rest for a few minute. Then shape into patties with dampened hands. Let chill until ready to use. We cooked ours on the stove in some olive oil - 5 minutes per side. You can also bake or grill.  For our next BBQ, I think we will pre-cook our burgers, freeze them, and then grill on-site for easier handling.

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