Readers already know, faux meat burgers are at the top of my list of foods I just don’t get—rubbery, dry, with overtones of cardboard, and of questionable health value. I don’t mean to impugn all patties made out of vegetable matter, though. Many combinations of beans, grains, mushrooms, nuts, veggies, and seasonings smushed together and served on a bun can be tasty, satisfying, and healthy. Especially with the right toppings.
Homemade versions—those made from whole foods and without texturizers—present a particular textural quandary, however. Ground meat can be formed into many shapes and retain moisture, tensile strength and flexibility. Squished veggies and legumes, on the other hand, tend to hold their shape like fresh Play-Doh, which is to say, until you place the disk on a bun or more daringly, on your grill.
Lentil burgers from the New Moosewood Cookbook came out quite tasty broiled. I used dried green lentils (which took longer and more water to cook than her recipe) seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs and omitted the optional spinach, because that’s what we had in the house.
Grill flavor would’ve been nice, but I wouldn’t try to just throw the lentil burgers on your grill. They’d probably ooze through the grates unless you have one of those nifty grill accessories designed for fish. That would probably work–if you try it, please comment to let me know!
As for toppings, below is my own recipe for lowfat vegan chipotle aioli which I think really made the dish. I love a sauce that’s healthy enough to slather all over my food. Those made with real mayonnaise don’t fit into this category, so I based this one loosely on the The New Moosewood Cookbook recipe for fake mayo plus Joy of Cooking recipe for chipotle mayo. You can use this spread on any sandwich instead of mayo. Spicy!
Lowfat Vegan Chipotle Aoili
- ½ block of silken tofu
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- ½ chipotle pepper (canned)
- ½ clove minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons tomato puree (canned)
- 1 TBS fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
- 1 tsp agave nectar or sugar
- s & p to taste
Whip in your blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.