As a vegetarian, I am always on the lookout for a good veggie burger recipe. Store bought veggie burgers are okay, but they usually have one of two problems: they fall apart to mush when you cook and eat them, or they full of soy and are rubbery. On top of that, I don’t like buying heavily processed foods, especially if the ingredient list is long and full of things I can’t find in my kitchen. I want to know what’s in my food, and I want it to taste good.
Enter stage right: the food processor. I bought a food processor awhile ago, and the main reason was that I wanted to try to make my own meatless burgers. Since buying it I have found many uses for it and would replace it in an instant if it broke down. I consider it to be invaluable and I don’t know how I lived for so long without one in my kitchen.
As a starting point, I tried the No Meat Athlete Veggie Burger Formula which yielded tasty burgers that were full of nutrition. Unfortunately, each time I made them, the burgers had a very mushy texture, and would break easily during cooking, and mush apart when biting into them. I tried a few methods of making them sturdier: processing more, processing less, adding flax seed (it gels in moisture), baking rather than frying, and freezing before cooking. I had no success. Ethan suggested adding an egg to the mix, to help it hold together, but I wanted something I could share with vegan friends, and something that wouldn’t be a major contamination risk if not cooked all the way through.
I scoured the Internet for other meatless burger recipes that wouldn’t fall apart so easily. I found a few and decided to combine them into something that sounded simple and delicious. The recipe I came up with probably still needs some tweaking, but the first draft yielded delicious burgers that could be flipped, held together when bitten into, and brown really well.
- 1/3 C hull-less barley
- 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 C rolled oats
- 1 – 2 Tbsp flax seed
- 1 Tbsp A1 steak sauce
- 2 tsp griller’s seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 C frozen spinach
- 1/2 nuts
Cook the barley in 2 – 3 cups of water, with salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the water has reduced and has formed a thick sauce (this can be prepared a few days in advance).
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and put over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, and brown. Stir occasionally.
In a food processor, combine the rolled oats, flax, steak sauce, griller’s seasoning, salt and pepper. Process until grainy. Add spinach and nuts and pulse several times to chop the nuts and mix everything. Add the barley, using a rubber scraper to get all of the sauce. Pulse a few more times to integrate the barley. Finally, add about half of the mushrooms and pulse until the mushrooms are chopped.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the remaining mushrooms.
Divide the mixture into 8 (large burgers) or 10 (sliders) equal parts, and form into patties. Fry burgers you plan to eat today, and freeze any remaining patties. To heat frozen burgers, either thaw in the fridge for a day, or microwave for 3o – 60 seconds before frying.
Tips and Modifications
The nuts I have used are a mixture of pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and raw cashews. I think any nuts would work though. White button mushrooms or porcinis work well for this recipe. If you don’t want big pieces of mushroom, you could process all of them before portioning into patties. The A1 steak sauce and griller’s seasoning could be swapped out for any flavorful sauce and seasoning mix. If you used a salty sauce or seasoning, you should reduce or eliminate added salt.