One Vegan Burger Recipe to Rule Them All  

One Vegan Burger Recipe to Rule Them All  

I loved me some hamburgers when I was a kid. My mom would always mix ketchup, mustard and other seasonings and spices into the ground beef and I was all about it. But as much as I loved hamburgers, I honestly love these so much more than I ever loved the meat version. The last meat-eater who tried these kept saying “There’s so much flavor in these. I can’t get over how much flavor is in these.”

No joke, it took me eight years to develop a good veggie burger recipe; I was really intimidated by the task and never fully satisfied with my attempts. I tried making black bean and quinoa burgers, broccoli and sweet potato burgers, etc…forget all that.

Originally inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s beet burgers, these also contain beets but not to the point that you can taste them. The lentils, walnuts, almond butter and brown rice give the burgers a lot of protein and heartiness, and the beet color makes them look like meat without trying too hard to look like meat, you know?

Above all, these burgers are pretty easy to make– pulse the base ingredients in a food processor, mix in all the rest, patty ‘em up and throw them on a pan. Nothing has to be perfect or exact. They’re even better leftover, too; I may or may not have eaten one cold for breakfast this morning.

 

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Yield: 10 burgers

  • 1 cup uncooked beets, peeled and shredded/grated (roughly one medium beet)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (can be leftover)
  • 2 cups cooked green or brown lentils (can be leftover)
  • ¾ cup walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours ahead of time
  • 1 cup onion (roughly one small onion), roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free
  • ½ cup almond butter and/or sunflower seed butter
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • 1.5 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 2.5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the generic Kroger brand is vegan, as are several specialty brands)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, optional
  • ¼ tsp ground fennel seed, optional
  • Olive oil for the pan
  1.  Make sure rice and lentils are fully cooled and drained of any excess liquid. Drain and rinse the walnuts
  2. Pulse garlic in food processor until broken up into tiny pieces, add chopped onion and puree for about 30 seconds
  3. Add the walnuts and pulse until broken up into small crumbles. Dump the contents of the food processor out into a large mixing bowl
  4. Add the rice, lentils and shredded beets into the food processor and pulse until everything is broken up into small pieces. The mixture should start to look like ground beef
  5. Transfer the contents of the food processor to the mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. If your rice and/or lentils were on the mushy side, add about 1/4 cup more breadcrumbs to counterbalance the excess moisture in the mix. Use your hands to mix thoroughly
  6. Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer. Don’t skip this step or else the burgers won’t hold together as well
  7. Form the mixture into patties. You want each patty to be about ½ cup of mixture.
  8. Preheat a large heavy-duty (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium heat (higher heat will result in them burning on the outsides and undercooking on the insides)
  9. Pour a thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 8-10 minutes on each side, checking occasionally to make sure they don’t burn on the bottoms. You can drizzle in a little more oil when you flip them to the other side if needed. Cook until the burgers are heated through and have a little char on them
  10. Serve with your favorite burger fixin’s
breakfast of champions

Pulled Jackfruit Barbecue Sandwiches

Pulled Jackfruit Barbecue Sandwiches

Since moving out West, Southern barbecue has been my most-requested meal by far. And since it’s summer and I see no need to mess around, we’re gonna get right to the good stuff.

Before moving to the South, I never knew what real barbecue was. As a Jewish girl from New York, pulled pork wasn’t really on my radar, and I had no idea that different regions of the country have such different approaches to and definitions of barbecue (“You mean not everyone just dumps a bottle of KC Masterpiece on some grilled chicken and calls it a day?”) Then I spent three years in the heart of North Carolina, and as you can imagine, I had to spend all of those years intensively studying BBQ and its very different regional incarnations across the US. After all that research, the question remained of how to make this soulful American legacy vegan without turning it into a national disgrace.

After spending two years recipe-testing everything from barbecued tofu to barbecued pumpkin, I found that by far the most successful vegan barbecue mediums are actually mushrooms and jackfruit. Info on how to do mushroom barbecue will be coming soon, but for today, here’s a run-down of how to make the ultimate jackfruit barbecue sandwich.

Jackfruit barbecue is cheap, easy, shockingly healthy (without tasting healthy), and significantly less time-consuming than any meat-based barbecue. From the look and the texture of the pulled jackfruit, it naturally looks just like pulled pork. Many a meat-eater has fallen in love with these sandwiches, and most of said meat-eaters had a very hard time believing they were vegan.

THE SAUCE

bbq sauce

If you’re a purist partial to any particular regional style, please don’t get mad that this sauce is a hybrid. But the combination of mustard (a la South Carolina), brown sugar and molasses (a la Kansas City), vinegar (a la Memphis and Eastern North Carolina), tomato base (a la western North Carolina), some optional heat (a la East Texas) and that slight smokiness (a la Central Texas) create a big, bold, balanced flavor profile that gives you the best of everything.

This recipe makes enough sauce for about 10 cans of jackfruit (roughly 15-17 sandwiches) so you can cut it in half if you want a smaller yield, or to make your life easier, make the full batch and freeze the extra for next time.

Can you use store-bought BBQ sauce from a jar if you’re short on time? Absolutely. Have I done it? Yes, no shame. Just open the bottle, taste it and adjust as needed by adding a little Worcestershire sauce, a little mustard or whatever it needs. But barbecue is really all about the sauce, so scratch-made is always best.

  • 1 28oz can tomato puree
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • ½ cup brown sugar (you can sub coconut sugar if you don’t do refined sugar)
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Kroger generic brand is vegan)
  • 3 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos (coconut aminos work ok if you do zero soy)
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2+ Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  1. Heat a large pot on medium-high, do not add oil
  2. Once the pot is hot, add the onions (without oil) with about half a teaspoon of salt. Stir thoroughly so that the salt coats the onions- the salt will draw out the excess water and allow it to evaporate. This should take about 7 minutes- stir occasionally
  3. Once the water has evaporated and the onions are sticking to the pan, add your olive oil. Keep stirring occasionally and allowing the onions to cook
  4. Only once the onions are pretty golden-brown, add your garlic. Stir and allow the garlic to cook with the onions for about two minutes, or until it starts to get golden-brown too. If your pan is too thin and you get a lot of residue sticking to the bottom that you can’t scrape up, add a little bit of water straight onto the residue to let it de-glaze (those caramelized sugars will just re-coat your onions and make them even more delicious.)

NOTE- do not half-ass the cooking of your onions, take the time to really let them caramelize (more info on this here.) You want them deeply golden-brown, not just flaccid and translucent. Your sautéed onions and garlic are the flavor base of every dish you make with them, so how you cook them will seriously impact the flavor of the dish. I always use this method; it doesn’t necessarily make the total cook time longer because you can use the time the onions are cooking to prep and measure out your other ingredients. I promise, it’s worth it.

  1. Lower the heat to medium and add the tomato puree and the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes
  2. Puree the sauce with a handheld immersion blender or in a heat-safe blender
  3. Taste and adjust the sauce to how you like it

THE JACKFRUIT

While it seems to be the hot new trend in American vegan cooking, jackfruit has actually been used in various South and Southeast Asian culinary traditions for ages. For barbecue, you actually want canned jackfruit rather than fresh. Make sure it’s labeled “young” or “green” jackfruit in brine or water; nothing ripe and nothing in syrup. This unripe jackfruit has a neutral flavor that allows it to be used as a blank canvas. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores and many other international markets as well as Trader Joe’s, and it’s pretty inexpensive; a 20oz can of jackfruit will generally run you about $1.20-2.00.

Two cans will yield enough for about three sandwiches.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Drain jackfruit into a colander and with your hands, squeeze out as much excess water as you can
  3. Shred: each piece generally has a top part that’s stringy and easy to separate into shreds, and then a denser bottom part that you can shred with your (clean) fingernails or a knife and fork. There will be little seed pods here and there as well- those are edible and can also be shredded up
  4. Toss jackfruit with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Spread jackfruit out onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper- make sure it’s not too overcrowded
  6. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until beginning to get golden and crispy at the edges. This removes the excess water, giving the jackfruit a better texture and allowing it to soak up more flavor from the sauce. This is the important step that a lot of chefs leave out, and it’s a game-changer.
  7. Remove jackfruit from oven and mix with BBQ sauce

THE SLAW

  • ½ medium green cabbage, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup vegan mayo
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  1. Whisk together mustard, mayo, dill, salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar
  2. Throw the cabbage, carrots, cilantro and red onion into a large mixing bowl and pour the sauce in, mixing thoroughly

ASSEMBLE

Toast up a bun (gluten-free or regular, or no bun/lettuce wrap if you’re paleo), throw some of the jackfruit on there, top it with some slaw. If you have leftover BBQ jackfruit, you can throw it on nachos, in burrito bowls, or my favorite, on top of burgers.

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