For many years I have been an off and on vegetarian. I have not done this for ethical purposes or health purposes like many, but mainly just for taste. For the most part, Kevin and I eat vegetarian most days of the week. I have always said that Meatless Monday should be Meat Monday —instead of eating vegetarian one day a week you should eat it six days and meat only one.
In my experience, a lot of vegetarians eat things that are attempting to be what they are not, such as veggie burgers. I find that most of these attempts fail miserably. When I’m eating vegetarian, if I don’t want to eat meat, I certainly don’t want to eat something that is pretending (badly) to be meat.
That being said, I love burgers and we all know those frozen bricks we call store bought veggie burgers are nothing more than tough cardboard. A burger is juicy and filling and makes you just feel happy. But for vegetarians, their versions of burgers are hard, dry and plain.
Many years ago I came up with this recipe for the perfect veggie burger. This recipe gives the same texture as a real burger and makes everybody happy. I have served my Classic Veggie Burgers to everyone from small children who have preferred it to a real burger, Midwest farmers who are “meat and potato” types and everyone in-between. And everyone loves them. These burgers have become so popular in our house that I have not grilled a real beef burger in something like six years.
The recipe is a bit time consuming, but once you have a batch made, they freeze wonderfully and unthaw fast for any impromptu BBQ.
- 1 pound Crimini mushrooms
- 2 shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 small/medium zucchini
- 1 bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange)
- 1 can diced green chiles
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
- 4 cups cooked quinoa
- 3 eggs
- 5 slices of whole wheat bread, pulse to crumbs.
- First with shredding attachment on the food processor, shred the zucchini and place in a colander to drain, and then wring out in paper towels to remove ex-cess moisture.
- Second without cleaning bowl of processor, but with the normal blade, pulse the mushrooms in two batches to a fine consistency. Set aside.
- Next pulse the shallots and garlic till finely chopped. Set aside.
- Dice the bell pepper.
- Clean out processor bowl and then pulse the bread slices to make crumbs, set aside.
- With the shredding attachment back on, shred/grate enough cheese.
- In a large enough sauté pan to hold everything, heat a bit of olive oil, add in gar-lic and shallot mixture, sauté for few minutes till softened.
- Add in bell pepper and mix around, sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add in mushroom and zucchini and mix fully to incorporate. Cook until the mix-ture looks as if it’s coming together and the mushrooms start to release mois-ture, about 4 minutes. Drain off as much liquid as possible. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and let cool, and drain off more liquid, use a turkey baster to get as much of the extra liquid as possible (see notes below).
- In the large bowl mix mushroom mixture with quinoa, green chiles, and cheeses. Set aside to cool a bit.
- Season with salt (don’t use a lot of salt as the cheese seems to give the salty flavor) and pepper to taste, you can taste the mixture at this point seeing as you haven’t added the eggs yet.
- Once cooled, add in breadcrumbs and lightly beaten eggs. Mix to incorporate and then cover and place in fridge. Let mixture sit in fridge for at least a couple hours, over night is better.
- Stir mixture and then form into burgers, I like to make them the same size as I would make a normal burger.
- To grill these burgers you will need a grill pan or some sort of pan for your grill because they don’t hold together directly on the grate of a grill. I like to use a bit of olive oil on the pan and over medium high heat grill them 4-5 minutes per side.
- Serve with all the normal burger fixings but also they are good with a bit of sautéed spinach!
- Tips for draining the liquid off the mushroom mixture- Place mixture into the large mixing bowl, press it all to one side and then place the bowl part way on a cutting board so that the bowl is angled. Press the mixture to the upper side so that the liquid runs out of the mixture. Take a turkey baster to suck up the liquid or even paper towels to soak it up. You want the mixture to be moist but not wet.