Sunday, July 3, 2011

At last -- truly grillable veggie burgers!

Since giving up meat, there’s been some grilling angst in our house. Yes, hubby and I love to grill portabella mushrooms, corn on the cob, veggie kebabs, big zucchini and eggplant planks, potato packets, and even pizza. But, oh, how we’ve longed for a good burger.

The stuff you get at the supermarket works in a pinch — on the stove or microwave. But if you try throwing it on the grill, you’re just as likely to get a crumbled mess or a burned hockey puck as you are something that’s edible. And, honestly, the flavor just isn’t that good. But when is straight-from-the-freezer ever as good as straight-from-your-own-kitchen?

So, we’ve tried the pre-mades; we’ve tried recipes from cookbooks and websites; we’ve made concoctions with tofu and beans and grains and mushrooms, with breadcrumbs and without, pre-cooked and not. And, truly, there are a lot of good veggie burger recipes — but nearly all of them have to be baked or cooked in a skillet before they go anywhere near the grill. And, call me weird, but I just can’t get down with baking a burger in a hot oven in the middle of July! Seriously! Who needs that?!

So, here’s the result of all that experimentation: a veggie burger that’s moist and flavorful and grillable — and, yes, BOTH the boys ate them — another first! This recipe makes a big batch of 10 good-size burgers. I’d recommend grilling them all up; you can refrigerate the ones you don’t eat that night, and just heat them up in the microwave over the next couple days. If you don’t think you’ll eat them that fast, go ahead and pop them in the freezer.

We really like them on whole wheat buns with a little mayo (Vegenaise, of course!); they’re also great served on a bed of mixed greens.

It’s important to refrigerate the patties before grilling them; they need time to firm up, so DO NOT skip this step or you’ll be sad! Also, be sure to oil up the grill really well before you start cooking; you’ll get nice grill marks on your burgers instead of having the patties stick, pull away, and burn. Just follow those simple rules (and this simple recipe) and soon you’ll be in veggie burger nirvana!


Farro and black bean burgers

1 large sweet onion, chopped, divided
1 T olive oil
1 c. farro
2-1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
3 T soy sauce
2 c. raw cashews
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 c. chopped cilantro, packed
2 tsp. ground cumin
2/3 c. panko breadcrumbs

Heat oil in a saucepan over med-high heat. Cook onions until golden, about 5 mins., stirring occasionally. Add farro and veggie broth; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss all other ingredients except panko breadcrumbs into the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. Add the farro mixture and pulse until combined. Finally, add the panko crumbs; process until everything is combined and finely chopped.

Form the mixture into ten (10) patties. Mixture will be very wet and sticky; starting with clean, wet hands will help. Chill the patties for at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours. Cook on a well-oiled grill, about 4 mins. per side. Serve immediately.

Makes 10 burgers.