Why does it feel so hard to make a good veggie burger at home? So many recipes end up bland and unexciting, no matter how hard we try. It’s high time we called in an expert.
Lukas Volger, author of Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, was on the Splendid Table last week sharing some lessons from his book. Here are his big tips for making a better veggie burger:
1. Focus on the Protein - We’ve noticed many veggie burgers just tend to mash together a bunch of different vegetables, resulting in muddled flavors and textures. Volger’s advice is to pick one or two main ingredients and focus on those. That can mean anything from chickpeas to eggplant as long as you make it the star.
2. Don’t Forget a Binder - This is what holds the burger together, a common problem with veggie burgers. Volger is a fan of a basic egg and breadcrumb binder. For vegan burgers, he recommends steaming and mashing a potato, then folding it into the main ingredients.
3. Go Bold with the Flavors - So many veggie burgers fall short in the flavor department. Volger’s solution is simply to go bigger and bolder with the flavorings. Use fresh herbs and spices - and more of them than you think you might need. Think about incorporating other ingredients with intense flavors, like roasted tomatoes.
4. Remember the Toppings - Forget iceberg lettuce and ketchup. Veggie burgers are best with strongly seasoned toppings, like pickled onions, olive tapenade, and spicy relishes. We’d add a slice or two of strong cheese to that list!
When it comes time to actually cook the burgers, Volger has a particular method he prefers. He recommends searing the veggie burger over high heat on the stovetop and then finishing it off in the oven. This way you add even more flavor in the form of a crispy crust, and the inside still cooks perfectly.
What advice do you have for building a better veggie burger?
• Hear the Whole Interview: Veggie Burgers with Lukas Volger on the Splendid Table
Related: 25 Vegetarian and Vegan Meals: Best of 2009
(Image: Beet and Bean Veggie Burger / Emma Christensen)