I found it. The elusive recipe for the vegan burger (and meal) that even an occasional meat-eater such as myself, craves and reaches for.. that… wait for it..
DOES NOT HAVE ANY MUSHROOMS OR CHEESE!
I have been searching and trying different recipes that were preferably vegan, but at least vegetarian (this one is both) that doesn’t have mushrooms (they soak up pollution and we should be careful how much we eat), or cheese (it’s an easy cop-out — put cheese on anything and it tastes better. Cheese is the New Bacon of the Vegetarian world.)
THIS IS IT.. and it’s so easy to do even without a food processor.
FEW THINGS TO MENTION…
VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN IS A GAME CHANGER
I am sorry if you can’t eat gluten (ugh that sucks!) but maybe an egg would work in place of this stuff.
What vital wheat gluten is, is the gluten or the supercharged, elastic part of the bread that gives bread and dough its chewiness. It is what seitan (a vegan meat) is made out of, and it can get quite pricey.
TOTAL GAME CHANGER.
This stuff helps the vegetables (the coarse bits) stick together and create a delicious, meaty sort of texture, mimicking meat protein.
It is really incredible, but it took me about 5 recipes before I nailed what and how to use it properly.
Too little, and it’s nearly inedible (plus doesn’t stick together to make a nice patty or meatball), and too much, and it is WAY too chewy like some bread-y hockey puck.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST FLAKES ADD THAT SAVOURY MEATINESS
Until I added in a good 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, I didn’t get that savoury delicious flavour to mimic meat.
It is really tasty, a bit like that elusive “umami” everyone gets from seared meat juices, and the one I use is from Bragg’s Organic Nutritional Yeast.
It also adds B12, something you only really get from meat, that vegans & vegetarians need to have.
USE THE RIGHT SOY SAUCE FOR THE BEST RESULTS
For lack of a better description, it tastes quite close like seared meat juices from the pan. In a pinch, I add water to it and use it as a vegetable broth for recipes.
It is delicious. It has such flavour, such depth.. I have been a die-hard soy sauce eater for most of my life, but this stuff is amazing.
A FOOD PROCESSOR OR BLENDER MAKES THINGS EASIER
I own a Vitamix Blender and after doing these vegan burger patties, I sort of wanted a food processor (namely, this Magimix) quite badly, but then realized you can get around these things with a little extra work (and if you can’t or won’t spend that money because you don’t have it and are on a shopping ban. Speaking for a friend, of course….)
The food processor however is the easiest device to use because you don’t need to dump anything out.
A blender can be used, but you need to pulse the vegetables SEPARATELY, pour them out into a bowl and pulse the next one.
Pulse the harder vegetables and items first (e.g. chickpeas or carrots), pour it out into the bowl, and then do the medium (e.g. peppers) vegetables next, pour it out, then the softer vegetables last (e.g. eggplants).
If you don’t have EITHER of those time-saving machines, just chop everything up finely. and mix it together.
CHOOSE VEGETABLES THAT ARE NOT SUPER WATERY OR WET
Tomatoes? Watery. Avoid them in the patty because you want to keep them as dry as possible so that you don’t have to use a whole bag of very expensive vital wheat gluten flour.
1 red pepper (finely diced)
5 thin carrots (about two finely diced cups worth)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1/3 eggplant — cut 4 large thick slices from the middle to add to the dish, but use the rest of it, finely diced for the patties
1 can of chickpeas (or any bean)* (or, if you use dried chickpeas like I do, soak them for at least 24 hours and cook them with water and a pinch of baking soda for 30 minutes, but make sure to roughly chop them too)
3 heaping tablespoons of chicken rub seasoning (if you’re truly vegan/vegetarian, obviously check to see if there is real chicken in there or not)
2 heaping tablespoons of garlic powder (or you can use fresh garlic, but use less like a single clove)
3 tablespoons of Bragg’s soy sauce
1/3 cup of of nutritional yeast
2 cups of vital wheat gluten
*I avoid canned anything because I read they line the cans with BPA to keep the metal from rusting. As a result, I just don’t buy canned food. Also, I don’t even own a can opener.
METHOD OF COOKING
As mentioned before, slice out 4 large slices of eggplant and put them on a baking pan, or sheet and put them immediately into the oven to bake at 350 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, flip them and cook another 20 minutes on the other side.
Or.. until they’re cooked through and not still tough, but creamy and luscious on the inside.
I don’t put any salt or oil on it, I just bake them as-is.
Finely dice all the vegetables until they’re the same size and shape.
Roughly chop up the chickpeas coarsely.
Put it all in a big bowl, and add in all the other ingredients (Bragg’s soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chicken rub seasoning, garlic powder) except the vital wheat gluten, you need to add that last and slowly!!!
Mix everything together until it is well, WELL mixed with one hand (if you are right-handed, use your left hand and vice versa).
Now, with your clean, dominant hand, slowly shake in the vital wheat gluten and mush it all together with your fingers and hands until it starts to come together.
DO NOT DUMP ALL THE VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN IN AT ONCE.
The minute it hits liquid, it clumps and forms that delicious meaty-textured protein. If you dump it in all at once, you’re going to get strange, rubbery patties and end up using almost a whole bag of this very expensive stuff.
Make patties, dumping in the wheat gluten a bit at a time and when it looks like it has reasonably come together enough to make a patty or meatball, you’re done.
As a last step you can also squeeze vegetable juices out by making it drier, or not bother with this step.
Personally, I squeeze out the juices so that it becomes meatier in texture and not as wet or soggy inside.
Now, cook for 20 mins each side at 350 degrees celsius on each side, or until they are fully cooked.
You can decide to oil the sheet or not and then put the patties on them so they don’t stick, or let them stick anyway because that dried part of the patty (which could stick to the pan), will mimic meat like ground meat once it has sogged up a little after coming out of the oven, which is incredible.
Then it comes out of the oven and… delicious!
It looks like this.
I like to put it on top of the eggplant slices, and add avocado with a pinch of salt.
EAT IT WITH OTHER GRAINS
With any grain!! Quinoa, brown rice, bread, but not with slippery items like noodles, but okay with pasta if it is short pasta and not spaghetti or fettuccine.
I have tried it all, and I love all the combinations.
I love adding avocado in place of butter or mayonnaise, and the eggplant slices are delicious, adding another layer of creaminess to the whole thing.
You don’t even need a starch if you don’t want it.