Easter is almost here and although it’s been snowing here in Toronto, BBQ season IS coming. I promise. Let’s prepare for it with a guest post from Bindu Grandhi as we celebrate the evolution of veggie burgers (plus a recipe for a Portobello Burger with Curry Dip)!
Can you imagine a veggie burger being mistaken for meat?
Well, Chef Brian Stefano at the Hillstone Branch restaurant on Park Avenue, New York City fooled vegetarian patrons into thinking his griddled, crispy-exterior veggie burger was meat!¹ He attributes his successful burger to a combination of beans, rice and beets mixed with prunes.
(The beans and rice give the patty the right consistency and texture, while the beets impart a color reminiscent of rare steak and the prunes give it a touch of sweetness and stickiness.)
I do believe veggie burgers have come a long way. Gone are the days of bland, freeze-dried nutrient discs that were either tough as hockey pucks when bitten into or collapsing when held. What’s driving this veggie burger movement?
Across the country, chefs, restaurateurs and food companies recognize the growing passion for plant-based diets. There was a 26% increase in menu items labeled vegetarian or vegan between the last quarter of 2008 and the same quarter in 2010 according to Mintel, a market research firm.² Not to mention our affinity for a really satisfying hand-held food, what’s better than a burger in a bun!
The real challenge was getting a veggie burger to taste, look and feel right while admitting that it will never taste like a traditional beef burger. Food connoisseurs have taken on that challenge experimenting with all kinds of ingredients such as chick peas, soy bacon, quinoa, carrots and Portobello caps to name a few.
Flavor is key so condiments are important – a spicy tartar sauce in lieu of ketchup for instance. In terms of consistency, you don’t want to bite down on something mushy, that’s why most veggie burger mixes are sealed with eggs and bread crumbs or panko crumbs.
“A good burger has a little crunch, a little snap,” says David Burke, chef behind New York restaurants like Fishtail and David Burke Kitchen. He’s right about that!
I’m just relieved that I’ve got more options at burger joints and barbecues, that’s something to cheer about. By the way, I’m still not crazy about the veggie burger brands in the grocery stores largely because I prefer freshly made burgers to pre-packaged, processed patties.
So in the spirit of yummy veggie burgers check out my recipes for a flavorful Portobello burger with a curry dip condiment. Enjoy!
¹“Meatless Burgers Master the Disguise,” New York Times Dining Section, Wednesday, March 23, 2011, pages D1 & D5
Portobello Burger with Curry DipPrint This
- 8 hamburger rolls
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 small tomato, sliced in quarters, seeds and pulp removed
- 10 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 2 tsp. powdered, unsweetened dried coconut
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. red chili powder
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 egg white
- 1½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 4 tbsp. extra light olive oil
- Topping: slices of raw onion and tomato
- In a food processor, pulse the onions and garlic three times. Add tomatoes and mushrooms and pulse until mushrooms are chopped. Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl.
- Add coriander, coconut, cumin, salt, red chili, ginger and mix.
- Add egg white and panko bread crumbs, and mix. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 patties, ¼ inch thick.
- In a non-stick grill pan or skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil. Place 4 patties into the skillet, and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes each side. Remove from grill pan and transfer to serving plate. Repeat process with the remaining patties.
- On a serving plate, place each Portobello burger on a bun and spoon curry dip over the burger. Top with a slice of sweet onion and tomato and serve.
With barbecue season coming soon, prepare these burgers on the grill for a vegetarian option.
|Mix ingredients in a medium bowl:
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.