I tried to start this blog with a funny headline but no one in my family laughed. First I thought “A veggie burger walks into a bar and gets sauced” . . . . . . . . get it, . . . . . . . because of the secret sauce? When that didn’t work I simplified it with “A veggie burger walks into a bar… ba – dum – bump!” While it made me laugh, and I think my sister-in-law Barbara would appreciate it, my family heckled me to the point that I just wrote what it is – a veggie burger recipe! Wait, here comes my husband chiming in with a joke of his own! I’d better start writing this post…
A friend of mine told me she went to a restaurant last week and when she asked about the veggie burger on the menu the waiter said it was a frozen Morningstar Farms black bean burger. She was horrified to learn they use a frozen burger you can buy in the grocery. Plus, it’s not the healthiest and definitely not fresh tasting. She inquired as to why they didn’t have a house-made one and they said they’ve never found a good recipe for one. I find it difficult to believe in today’s day and age they couldn’t find a really good recipe or come up with one of their own. She told them they should take it off the menu, and I agree.
One thing you’ll learn about me pretty quickly is that I love good veggie burgers – and, I can be a bit of a snob about them! Even the frozen brands, that’s why I like to make them myself. I don’t like the kind that pretends to be meat. I like the ones where you can see the vegetables and grains. You know the kind that say “hey look at me! I’m healthy and delicious!” Here in Columbus, we’re lucky to have Northstar Cafe where their veggie burger reigns supreme! It’s filled with brown rice, black beans and beets, it’s very different and very delicious! Bare Burger (an up and coming NY chain) has a few vegetarian burger options, including mushroom and quinoa and recently opened in town. Sad is the restaurant that serves a frozen brand when they are so easy to make.
I was watching a show on the Food Network the other day featuring a bar and grill. All of the customers were raving about their veggie burger. The chef was making what he called bar food kicked up a notch. A few days later, I watched the show again, wrote down all of the ingredients and then tried to figure out the quantities of each component. I substituted shredded hash browns for mashed potatoes in the original to keep calories down and for simplicity, however, if you have leftover mashed potatoes, go for it and use that instead.
I must have done a great job because everyone in my family loved them. Everyone from my son who is a pescatarian (vegetarian who will eat fish), my other son who is a carnivore (meat lover), and my husband who is an adventurous eater as long as there is a good sauce. Then there’s me, I’m a bit of a wild card. My diet is different from everyone in my family. I am happy with a piece of grilled salmon on a salad any day of the week! While I enjoy a good burger, I can’t remember the last time I actually had one. I usually opt for a turkey burger, tuna burger, and obviously a veggie burger!
So here you have it, my version of an upscale bar food veggie burger, I hope you Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out if you make it! Oh, and while I don’t think it needs cheese, if you just have to have it, select something like fontina, brie, or port salut; mild and creamy that won’t take away from the deliciousness of the burger.
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 red pepper diced fine
1 cup shredded frozen hash brown potatoes (or mashed potatoes if you have them on hand)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup cooked barley
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup scallions sliced thin both green and white parts
2 teaspoons – no salt seasoning
1 extra large egg (omit if you want to keep it vegan and add extra potato)
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
canola or light olive oil to pan fry the burgers
Use a good lettuce like crispy frisée or spicy arugula or mixture of both
slices of avocado
1 soft challah roll, ciabatta roll, or pita
1 to 2 tablespoons of special secret sauce (recipe follows)
While the barley and rice are cooking, prepare everything else. It took about 1/2 an hour to assemble and another 15 to cook. Cook the barley according to package directions. I purchased mine from Trader Joe’s and it was a quick cooking barley that took only 10 minutes. Cook the brown rice according to directions on the package as well.
While they are cooking, assemble all of your other ingredients. Dice the red pepper in a small dice, and slice the scallions finely. Measure the shredded potatoes (I used the Trader Joe’s shredded hash brown potatoes), peas and corn and place in a large bowl then set aside. Finely shred 2 or 3 carrots (depending on size to make a cup). Do the same with the zucchini. I like to buy smaller zucchini when I can find them, they have less seeds and are less watery. It’s okay if your measurements aren’t exact. If it’s a little more or less of an item, it will still turn out well. Just don’t overdo it, keep well within the recipe guidelines especially the first time you make it. Then make it your own!
Into the bowl with the potatoes, peas, and corn, add the rice while it is hot and it will defrost the other ingredients and cool down the rice. Rinse the barley and add that in as well. Next, add in the shredded carrots, zucchini, red pepper, and scallions, Mix well with a fork. Add the salt, pepper and no-salt seasoning and stir gently. Side note here… I like the Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning from Costco or Trader Joe’s 21 Salute, but any no-salt seasoning you like will do.
Add in the egg, mix and then add in the breadcrumbs until everything just comes together enough that you can make a patty. I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the portions so they would all be the same size. Mold the patties tightly so that they’ll stay together and place on a plate.
Heat a large frying pan or griddle with a couple of tablespoons of canola or extra light olive oil on medium heat. When the oil starts to bubble, place the burgers into the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side – approximately 6 – 8 minutes a side.
This recipe makes approximately 10 burgers and they freeze very well. Just make sure to individually wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and then place in a zipper bag in the freezer. The only problem is that these are so good, they’ll never make it to the freezer!