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Veggie Burgers: Meat Free But Full of Flavor

Looking for a meatless meal idea? Try making these divine veggie burgers.

"If you knew how meat was made, you'd probably lose your lunch."  ~k.d. lang

Something you may have seen all over the news last week was the subject of “pink slime." Jamie Oliver covered this subject on his show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" last year and now there is a petition to try to stop the USDA from buying pink slime and using it in school lunches.

What is pink slime? According to the petition, pink slime “is a beef-like product created by grinding together connective tissue and beef scraps normally used in dog food, and treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill salmonella and E. coli.”

Ugh.

This slime controversy got me to thinking about how much meat my family consumes and how much that meat costs. Meat is the basis for most all of our dinners and that meat is always the most expensive thing in my shopping cart each week. I'm thinking that maybe it’s time to cut back a little.

I’m not alone in my line of thinking, either, since meat consumption is predicted to be down around 12% in 2012. I was surprised to also read that Americans eat 25% less beef now than they did in 1980. So my new goal is to have two meatless meals each week. This will hopefully be great for my waistline and it will definitely be great for my wallet.

Since burgers are a favorite in my house I wanted to try and make a veggie version. I searched and found a great recipe for homemade veggie burgers in an old Weight Watchers cookbook on my shelf at home. They are really tasty.

I used my food processor to prepare the onion, carrots and zucchini. Just a few pulses and they were good to go. Before putting the mixture into the fridge I threw the whole thing back into the food processor and pulsed it a couple more times to get it to the right consistency. If you don't have a food processor or hand chopper then I would suggest using a grater...you want to make sure you don't have big pieces of vegetables in the burgers.

I like these on a toasted roll with pesto mayonnaise, lettuce and grilled onions.

Veggie Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped or grated
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 carrots, chopped or grated
  • 1 zucchini, chopped or grated
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • few drops of sesame oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat.
  2. Cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Mix in the carrots and zucchini. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat and mix in oats, cheese, and egg. 
  5. Add sesame oil and red pepper flakes, if using.
  6. Stir in soy sauce and pulse in the food processor a few times (if using).
  7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  8. Preheat the grill for high heat.
  9. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate.
  10. Form the vegetable mixture into eight 3" round patties.
  11. Drop each patty into the breadcrumbs, lightly coating both sides.
  12. Oil the grill grate and grill patties about 5 minutes on each side, or until heated through and browned.

Enjoy!

madhu March 11, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Sheila - Excellent choice.. meat processing is disgusting given the level of commercialization that has happened.. did you trying adding some tofu to increase proteins?
Ashish March 11, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Egg is not considered as veggie.
Spencer March 11, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Of course, you could just eat some local, ethically produced more nutrient dense meat instead. I would rather do that for my health, and for the environment.
bill March 11, 2012 at 06:09 PM
veggybill I do not know about eggs beaten should not be cocked first ?. How about salmonella. Rolled oats should be cocked also I eat it every day but cocked. Vegetarian does not mean you eat everything raw somethings you have to steam so your stomach can take it. Eggs and cheese gives good balance for the vegetarian diet
Sheila Duggan Chabot March 12, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Madhu, thank you. Tofu is a great suggestion. Ashish, no egg is not a veggie. Perhaps I should have called it a "Mostly Veggie Burger". Spencer, you make a great point. My husband and I are looking into buying our meat from Steve Normanton, a farmer in NH. Bill, the eggs get cooked when the patty is cooked in the grill pan.
Laurie Briere March 12, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Sheila - we buy our chickens from Steve Normanton and have bought our meat from a person my husband knows in VT. It's an initial outlay of cash for the freezer to store it and to purchase in bulk, but well worth it in the long run. As Spencer said above, it's great to purchase local and ethically produced. It's the mass commercialization of farms and animals that is the problem - not the meat.
Sean Fowler March 12, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Sheila, the general lingo among non-meat eating foodies is that a vegan is someone that eats no meat, eggs, or dairy, and attempts to limit to some degree the intake of foods utilizing animals in some way. Vegetarians are generally considered to be those that do not eat meat but might eat eggs and dairy. So, basically, vegans are a subset of vegetarians. Pescetarians don't eat mammals, birds, or reptiles, but do eat eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood. As far as veggie burgers go, there are generally the vegetable patties and meat alternative patties. It appears that this is a bit of a cross of both, as soy sauce is a typical additive to the meat alternative patties. While the meat alternative burger patties tend to be limited by their intent, the vegetable patties can be anything. As such, you'll find recipes online for vegetable patty recipes for just about every cuisine. As for protein, plants do not have as much protein content as animals, seeing as the animals eat and process the plants, thereby concentrating the protein content somewhat. Anyway, as such, it's imperative that, if you are switching to a more vegetarian diet, you be more conscious, overall, of the quality of your current diet. If you have previously been getting the majority of your nutrition from meats and filling in the rest of the void with empty calories, your health will likely suffer from switching over to veggie patties.
Sheila Duggan Chabot March 12, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thanks, Laurie! :) Sean, thank you for the information. I'm sure other readers will find it very helpful.
x March 13, 2012 at 01:14 PM
A previous article in The Onion online newspaper reported that the cow is actually a vegetable. It absorbs moisture through its hooves and conducts photosynthesis through its hide. This may help dispel the myths that a hot greasy hamburger patty is not vegetarian and is good for you. Your spiritual advisor, Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Holly Pearson March 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Thank you, Sheila, for the recipe and the education. Most "food animals" in this country are raised on "Factory Farms" where they are crowded together by the thousands in windowless, warehouse like buildings. The animals' feed must be laced with antibiotics to fatten them up and keep them alive in these stressful, disease ridden environments. Pharmaceuticals replace good husbandry such as fresh air, exercise and sunshine. Factory farming practices are aren't just bad for animals - consumers and the environment pay a hefty price too. Thanks again for the delicious sounding recipe. Holly Pearson
dusty cronin March 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Make my T-bone medium rare please.
DBC March 24, 2012 at 03:33 AM
For those who just don't have enough extra time to make these or maybe would like a good alternative for a quick meal, the best veggie burger I have ever found is put out by Meredith Farms. It is frozen like the others, i.e., Boca, Morning Star, Gardenburger, but these are fantastic! There is a Vegan veggie burger but there is also several other versions that would be suitable for less stringent vegetarian diets. One is a Portabella burger that is amazing! Look for it in the freezer aisle at Market Basket. I keep them in stock, always, and use a "Swiss" soy cheese slice along with a multi-grain sandwich thin bun, adding a "whatever's on hand" salad with pomegranate and walnut or raspberry and pecan dressing, sweet potato fries, carrot juice (if you have a juicer, add apple and celery) and a fruit sorbet with Biskoff cinnamon cookies for dessert. Yum! For family or company, dinner is in 15 minutes (add another 5 minutes to prepare dessert). It's all vegan unless you have the "other" varieties of the veggieburgers. Even my omnivore friends love this meal.

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