Veggie burgers have suffered a seriously bad reputation in the past. And with good reason: They’re far too often frozen hockey pucks of stabilizers and fillers (maybe a corn kernel or two, if you’re lucky). That’s a shame because when they’re done right veggie burgers exemplify all of the things we love. Think about it: The best meatless burgers have chewy, hearty grains, a meaty (in texture, if not taste) note from mushrooms, and, duh, colorful, fresh vegetables. Sounds like the making of an incredible meal to us.
Controversy and successes aside, one thing’s for sure: Veggie burgers have come a long way since their inception. Yes, they were once ostracized as “hippie food … with the flavor somewhere between sawdust and dog kibble” (via The Christian Science Monitor). But as plant-based eating has moved from extreme to mainstream, veggie burgers are now everywhere.
To be fair, not all veggie burgers are created equal, especially as the number of options has exploded in recent years. There are those made with a soy base, like Boca Burger. Some achieve hearty bulk from a combo of beans, grains, and veggies, like selections from Hilary’s brand, or the health-focused Dr. Praeger’s and Engine 2. Other modern takes, like Beyond — lauded for its authentic meat-tastic taste — get their protein power from legumes like peas. One brand, Quorn, recreates animal-like texture via a fungus called mycoprotein.
In other words, no one can say across the board that all veggie burgers are perhaps not as dietarily desirable as one might assume. But it’s wise to scan the nutritional stats and the list of ingredients before chowing down on what many consider a healthier option versus the meat-based “real thing”
WHY REPLACE MEAT IN YOUR VEGGIE BURGER?
It’s no secret that raising meat animals is bad for the planet and accentuates the greenhouse effect, especially beef, which is dear to our beloved burgers. Never mind, whether you are a vegan convinced by animal welfare, and the merits of eating more plant products, an environmentalist who wants to reduce her carbon footprint, or simply a gourmet who wants to try herself to another diet, the vegetarian burger is suitable for everyone, while doing a gesture for the planet. In addition, in general, it is important to limit your consumption of meat, especially red meat, since it would promote certain diseases. Not glop, therefore!
WHAT TO REPLACE MEAT WITH?
Knowing the “why” is good, knowing the “how” is better! Suddenly, when we dabble in the veggie or vegan diet, the first breaks can arise. Already, you should not compare a standard burger to its vegetarian alter ego. Why? Because they are different, quite simply. If we try to reproduce the taste of meat at all costs, it can give rise to a lot of frustration. And unsuccessful attempts.
How to Make Mediterranean Veggie Burgers
Many veggie burgers are made from vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (like beans or lentils). These are good-for-you ingredients that provide fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Heat 1 tbsp. (15 mL) oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and sauté onions, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the spinach and garlic while stirring, and continue cooking until the onions are tender and the mixture is dry, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine lentils, farro, tzatziki sauce, breadcrumbs, sundried tomatoes and flax seeds.
Stir in the spinach mixture to the bowl and shape into 6 patties.
Heat 1 tbsp. (15 mL) remaining oil in large nonstick skillet, and cook patties over medium heat for 10 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned and heated through.
Serve on buns with lettuce, if desired, and a dollop of tzatziki sauce . If desired, serve with lemon wedges.