Who doesn’t like a burger? I mean, let’s be serious. Burgers are rife with opportunity for change and creativity! If done right, in and of themselves, they’re a tasty meal. But they also act as little saucers that welcome sauces and toppings like it’s their j.o.b.
If you are the meat-eating type, then you can, of course, go with the standard beef burger. They’re always winners. But if you venture beyond the norm there are combinations of rice and lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, and even seafood. Salmon burgers with caper-dill mayo? Amazing!
With vegetarian burgers, the possibilities are truly endless: Throw together combinations of grains, vegetables, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds, and you have a base on which to add your spices and other aromatic flavourings. Your creativity can really shine with a veggie burger–which is why I really like them.
This burger was mildly adapted up from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (As an aside, if I were to recommend one cookbook that everybody own, it’s this one.) I dressed the burger with a chile-lime mayo and served it on toasted walnut sourdough (homemade, thanks to this course!).
Mark suggests 3 keys to cooking a veggie burger in order develop a crisp outer coating while keeping the inside tender:
1. Ensure there is enough fat in the pan and that it’s hot before adding the burgers.
2. Let them cook–undisturbed–until the first side is nicely browned. If you’re not using a nonstick pan, you’ll know they’re brown enough to turn when they release easily from the pan.
3. Don’t overcook them. You want them to be hot, but not dry.
We enjoyed these burgers with this outstanding panzanella. (I know that I keep going on about it, but I have now made 3 times this week! It’s THAT good.) I also doubled the burger recipe which means we’ve had some for lunches. We’ve been eating the leftovers sans bread, topped with chile-lime mayo or simply crumbled over an arugula, tomato, and avocado salad with a lime vinaigrette. I much prefer them with a topping, but if I’m being completely honest, I did hover over the counter munching on them more than once.
Corn & Zucchini Summer Burgers (serves 4 – 6) Slightly adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian from Mark Bittman
// Ingredients //
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, halved
2 cloves garlic
1 minced fresh chile (eg. jalepeno or Thai), or to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 medium zucchini, grated (about 1 cup)
2 cups fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup cornmeal (I used a half and half mix of cornmeal and corn grits because it’s what I had on hand)
A little flour, if needed, for binding (You can use all-purpose, whole-wheat, or gluten free) 1/4 cup ground almonds or almond meal
Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick or cast-iron pan with a lid and turn on the heat to medium. Put the onion, garlic, and chile in a food processor and pulse a few times until almost smooth. Add the mixture to the pan with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook and stir.
Stir the zucchini into the onion mixture along with 1/2 cup of the corn and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Put the remaining corn into a food processor and let the machine run until it becomes a thick paste. Continue to cook and stir the zucchini mixture until the vegetables release all their water and it starts to evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn paste and the cornmeal. Remove from the heat, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. if the mixture seems too wet, stir in a little flour to help bind it (starting with one tablespoon at a time). Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Form 4-6 patties and let them sit for a few minutes. Before cooking, gently top one side of each burger with a generous sprinkling of almond meal. Sprinkle it on and then gently pat it in. Wipe out the pan, put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in, and turn the heat to medium. A minute or two later, add the patties, almond meal side down. Top the other side with the remaining almond meal. Cook until nicely browned on one side (about 4-5 minutes); turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.
// Ingredients //
1/2 cup prepared mayonaise
1/2 tsp chile powder
the zest of half a lime (organic, if possible)
Combine the ingredients and mix until well blended. Top your burgers generously.
To Serve: We served ours on sourdough with chile-lime mayo, baby arugula, and tomato slices. The tangy sourdough complements the sweetness of the corn patties.
*Note: You can make the burgers several hours in advance. Just don’t put the almond meal on yet. Cover them tightly and refrigerate. When you’re ready, bring them to room temperature before cooking.