As I have mentioned many times before, DH is a vegetarian. Not being a vegetarian myself, it’s hard to make meals we both can enjoy together. Eating together isn’t the issue, it’s the enjoy part. Plus, since I am pretty much the only one cooking, I need to make sure we are both getting the nutrition we need. So, I have made huge strides in making everything tasty as well as healthy. I subscribe to countless blogs, read web sites all the time, and have more cook books than I can decently list here. One of my old standby websites is Heidi Swanson’s “101 Cookbooks”. She has a great approach to food, that just happens to be vegetarian. Go local and go fresh, and although she lives in the San Francisco area, it applies all over the country. (Please note, not vegan, just vegetarian). She had a tofu burger recipe that I tried a few times and we loved each time we did it. I do give Heidi credit here, but honestly I have made changes to her basics and made it mine. I also find that the ingredients here can easily change, making this awfully versatile. Similar to the Portobello burgers I posted recently, the condiments here can be just about anything you like, you can swing to the more Asian style, French mustard, barbecue, anything and they will still be completely wonderful. A word to those of you that just want a burger to LOOK like a burger… give up. These are definitely not going to look meaty, but they taste heavenly!
1 pound / 16 oz / 450 g extra-firm tofu
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, whatever you like)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (preferably unsalted)
1/2 cup mushrooms (slice finely and whir first in your processor)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or dehydrated garlic or onion)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (do not use table salt here, kosher or sea is best)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Place the mushrooms and nuts into a food processor and pulse until they start to look finely chopped. Add in the remaining ingredients except 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and the olive oil and process until a smooth paste forms. Scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice if needed. If it seems a bit thin to you, add the remaining bread crumbs a small handful at a time until everything comes together. This should resemble a thick and pasty mixture, so the burgers retain their shape when formed.
Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and use your hands to press and form into round but flat-ish patties. (It helps to lightly oil your hands.) I usually freeze half of them for future use.
Pour the olive oil into your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and arrange as many patties as you can without crowding. Cover, and cook turning once, until deeply browned on both sides. Roughly ten minutes. You want to make sure the middle of the patties cook through. If your pan is too hot you’ll burn the outsides before the middle cooks up, so be mindful of that. The cooked texture should be firm when you press in the middle of the patty, similar to the fleshy pad near the thumb of your hand. Don’t worry if they crack a bit, that’s fairly normal.
Dress these as you would any burger. I always love cheese and really sour pickles with them. Remember that if you use a more flavorful nut, like walnut or pecan, they will taste strongly of that. You can mix types, I find cashew and walnut or almond work well together. Also – the cayenne can be replaced by anything if you don’t like a little mild heat. You will truly barely notice the heat if you do use it. I have tried dried basil, half the amount of thyme, and a mixture of whatever I had on hand and it always works.
Enjoy! And let me know how you flavor your burgers!!