Words by Natalie Goldberg, Photos by Xeila Cendan
Had you asked me a few months ago what my “go-to” easy meal would be, I doubt that a burger would have been my immediate answer. As someone who eats everything and loves trying new food, veggie burgers had not previously been on my list of favorites. Frankly, veggie burgers can be pretty bland and unappetizing if made the wrong way. However, once you get on a veggie burger kick, there’s no turning back.
This summer, post study-abroad-food-coma, I decided to practice healthy habits, which included changing my eating patterns. As I lived at home and had a fully-equipped kitchen and giant supermarkets at my disposal, I decided to try and limit my meat consumption as an experiment, finding vegetarian alternatives. As hotdogs and hamburgers are the crowd favorites at summer BBQs, I found my love for veggie burgers as an alternative. Don’t be fooled, I am not a vegetarian, and personally, I am not interested in processed veggie burgers that attempt to taste like meat. However, the right veggie burger combines different flavors of vegetables, spices, and tons of flavor-enhancing toppings that can satisfy anyone as a delicious meal in its own right. My favorite part would have to be how versatile veggie burgers can be: you can use any ingredients you have on hand, or buy a frozen variety to pop on the stovetop or in the microwave for a quick, easy meal.
There are several different types of veggie burgers, ranging from ones with bases of beans to potatoes to a blended mix of vegetables.
My favorite “recipe” would be from Food 52, “How to Make Any Veggie Burger Without a Recipe.” It teaches how to make a customized bean burger, using a combination of bases and a variety of mix-ins. I love it because I can use anything I have on hand in my apartment and it takes about 10-15 minutes to whip up (check it out below). There are tons of recipes online for making Smoky Black Bean Burgers, Beet Burgers, Mushroom Burgers, and Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers, to name a few, but I haven’t yet had the chance to try them out (but you should!)
If you are stuck for time or do not have the ingredients on hand, frozen works just as well. I personally like Engine 2 Tuscan White Bean or Poblano Black Bean and Dr. Praeger’s Kale Veggie Burgers. Honestly, I eat these as meals, late night snacks, or a grab-and-go option. My go-to toppings would have to be tomato slices, yellow mustard, avocado, a portabella mushroom, or a combination.
I’m serious when I say that veggie burgers have now become an important meal in my life. I seek them out at restaurants and spend my afternoon daydreaming about the ultimate burger I will make for dinner. Fellow non-vegetarian folk, I hope you are inspired to try them, too. Enjoy!
How to Make a Veggie Burger Without a Recipe
Makes: 6-8 (depending how big you make them!)
- 1 Can of beans (pinto, black, or chickpeas are my favorite)
- Egg or Eggwhites (for every 2 cups of beans, you will want 1 egg)
- ½ c Cooked Grains (quinoa, farro, rice, etc.)
- ½ c Breadcrumbs or Oats
- Spices (whatever your heart desires! Salt, pepper, garlic cloves, cumin, paprika, a blend, etc.)
- Nut butter or Tahini/Hummus (optional)
- ¼-½ c Additional vegetables- Chopped (I like to use chopped up veggies I have on hand: peppers, corn, zucchini, eggplant, mushroom)
For a fall twist, you can add mashed sweet potato or squash in place of all or some of the beans and add some cinnamon or nutmeg into the spice blend, modifying breadcrumbs or eggs as needed.
1. Mash beans with fork, masher, or food processor.
2. Add all other ingredients and mix well. This can be done in a bowl or food processor. If using a food processor, be sure to leave the mixture coarse. Add additional breadcrumbs if it seems too wet or eggwhites if too dry.
3. Shape into patties at desired size.
4. Fry in a non-stick pan (oil optional) until the bottoms are brown and flip, about 5 minutes per side, or bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. **
5. Top them with your favorite condiments, additional vegetables like sautéed mushrooms, a portabella, salsa, cheese, lettuce and tomato, or anything else!
** I will preface this by saying that making the perfect veggie burger is an art, and mine have fallen apart multiple times when I have tried to make this recipe, but I am learning!