The Veggie Table: Beyond the Portobello Burger

by in The Veggie Table, July 27, 2013

veggie burger
When you make the move to a meatless diet, one of the first things you may miss is that familiar sink-your-teeth-into-it texture you got from beef, chicken and even some fish. Fortunately, there are so many plant-based foods that easily mimic the texture of meat and are versatile enough to be used in a variety of recipes, whether you’re craving a burger or anything else.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms have a savory umami flavor, making them a star ingredient in meat-free burgers. I’m not talking about those measly veggie burgers at restaurants that have just one floppy portobello mushroom cap slapped in a burger bun. I’m talking about a thick, filling mushroom burger like the one above (photo courtesy of Oh My Veggies), which also contains lentils and oats.

Eggplant: Salting eggplant slices before cooking draws out some of the vegetable’s moisture, helping it lose that spongy texture and bring out a meaty one. Try eggplant slices cooked on the grill and layered with tomato sauce and cheese in an eggplant parmigiana.

Soy: Soy has chameleon-like properties in that it can be transformed to take on different flavors and textures. I prefer soy in its least processed forms, including tofu and tempeh. Tofu, like mushrooms and eggplant, needs to have the water squeezed out of it before it can be grilled or baked to give it that leathery (in a good way) texture.  I use my TofuXpress to squeeze out the extra moisture, but you can also drain a block of tofu between two heavy plates in the kitchen sink. Once you have a drier tofu, you can cut it into thick slices, marinade it in your favorite sauce, and grill or bake it the same way you would cook chicken.

Although tempeh is sold as a compact block, my favorite way to enjoy it is diced into tiny bits or crumbled, much like ground beef. Simply cook your block of tempeh in a steam basket, or steam it in a few tablespoons of water in the microwave until soft. Then flake the tempeh with a fork until it is completely broken up. You can sauté your tempeh crumbles with taco seasonings to make tempeh tacos, or mix in BBQ sauce to make a tempeh sloppy Joe that even meat eaters will devour.

TELL US: What’s your favorite way to mimic the texture of meat?

Janel Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel.  Catch up on her previous posts here.

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Comments (11)

  1. [...] The Veggie Table: Beyond the Portobello Burger You Also May Like20 Kid-Friendly (and Healthy!) Summer RecipesThe Secret To Georgian Grilled Meats? Grapevines And Lots Of WineCook Your Cupboard: Chowchow Down With Jacques PepinCooking with Key Limes (Try These Chicken Kebabs)Twenty-one School Children Die from Tainted LunchesSandwich Monday: The Burger King Veggie Burger ShareShare Topic: food, home, health, recipes .pagenavi span {padding: 5px 10px 6px 10px;font-size: 12px;line-height: 12px; border:1px #e8e8e3 solid;} .pagenavi a > span { margin-right:0px; margin-left:0px; padding:0; border:none !important;} .share{ background:#f8f8f8; padding-top:10px; padding-bottom:10px;margin-top:20px;} .share ul.soc-share { margin:0px; padding:10px 0 0 0; margin-right:0px; display:inline-block;} .share ul.soc-share li{ float:left; margin-left:20px;} .share h3{ float:left; margin:3px 0 0 20px; line-height:18px; font-size:18px;} #top_post_share .share{ padding-top:10px; padding-bottom:10px;margin-bottom:20px; margin-top:0;} [...]

  2. [...] Soy: Soy has chameleon-like properties in that it can be transformed to take on different flavors and textures. I prefer soy in its least processed forms, including tofu and …read more [...]

  3. [...] Soy: Soy has chameleon-like properties in that it can be transformed to take on different flavors and textures. I prefer soy in its least processed forms, including tofu and …read more [...]

  4. [...] View Original Article Filed Under: Articles · [...]

  5. Milly says:

    That looks amazing! My mouth is watering and I just can't wait to try this out. It's been a long time since I made burgers!

  6. Lucy says:

    Got to say I love burgers! My family would make them together and eat them! Although we haven't eaten or made any for a while. I think this would be a great recipe to try together. Thanks

  7. Joanna says:

    *Soy has chameleon-like properties* So true. Everytime I cook them, they tend to blend with the dish itself.

  8. Stanley says:

    Thanks for the great recipe! Love burgers and I cooked this one, that's really yummy and my wife is hooked on the thing!

  9. alicia says:

    Highly nutritious and is very easy to make..Thank you so much..:)

  10. good for a nice breakfast..:)

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