Although it is becoming increasingly common to find vegetarian options for most styles of cooking, for some reason when people think about grilling their mind goes straight to meat. But vegetarians don’t have to sit out the neighborhood barbeque – in fact, grilling is easy, accessible, and remarkably versatile. The easiest crossover is firm or hard tofu, which can be cooked on skewers and in slabs at the same time as its meat counterparts. Simply make sure that your marinade is very flavorful, and then slather it on the tofu and baste as you grill. Even barbeque sauce will work!
However, if you’re looking for a burger, oftentimes you need to move away from the grill and towards the frying pan. Here are three of my favorite recipes for vegetable burgers, two taken from the cookbook Vegetarian: Tasty recipes for everyday (edited by Helen Aitken) and the last from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian (written by Mark Bittman). With a little forward planning, vegetarians can slide these delicious patties between two buns and join in on the cookout without any fuss. Long live summer!
(Edited version of “Chickpea Patties with Caramelized Onion” from Vegetarian: Tasty recipes for everyday)
1 T olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T ground cumin
2 10 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c besan flour (also called chickpea flour. You can use all-purpose instead, but it will change the flavor and texture)
Oil for shallow-frying
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly.
- Blend the drained chickpeas, sunflower seeds, cilantro, egg, and onion mixture in a food processor until smooth. Fold in the besan flour and season. Divide the mixture into eight portions and, using floured hands, form into patties.
- Heat ½ inch of oil in a frying pan and cook the patties in two batches over medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side, or until firm. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
- The recipe suggests serving them with plain yogurt and caramelized onions.
(Edited version of “Tofu Burgers,” taken from Vegetarian: Tasty recipes for everyday)
1 ½ hours (largely unattended)
1 T olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
200 g Swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
350 g hard tofu (NOTE: this is different than firm tofu)
2 large cloves of garlic
3 T chopped fresh basil
2 c dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T sweet chili sauce
Olive oil, for shallow-frying
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
- Blend 250 g of the tofu with the garlic and basil in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the onion mixture, breadcrumbs, egg, vinegar, and sweet chili sauce. Grate the remaining tofu and fold through the mixture, then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Divide the mixture into six and form into patties, pressing together well. Coat them in the extra breadcrumbs
- Heat ½ inch of oil in a deep frying pan and cook the patties in two batches for 4-5 minutes each side, or until golden. Turn carefully to prevent them breaking up. Drain on crumpled paper towels and season with salt.
- The recipe suggests serving them with mayonnaise, semi-dried tomatoes, rocket leaves, and sweet chili sauce.
(Taken from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 c chopped parsley
1 c bread crumbs, preferably fresh
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the cheese, parsley, and bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and use a fork to gently beat the eggs and blend everything into a semisolid mixture. The “dough” should be about the consistency of dumpling or biscuit dough. Carefully shape the mixture into 4 patties and set them on a plate or wax paper.
- Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add patties (it’s not so bad if you crowd them a bit). Cook without disturbing until they start to look crisp around the edges, about 5 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook the other side for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and heavily with pepper and serve.
Aitken, Helen, ed. “Chickpea Patties with Caramelized Onion” and “Pumpkin and Basil Lasagne,” in Vegetarian Tasty Recipes for Every Day. Barnes and Noble: New York. 166.
Aitken, Helen, ed. “Tofu Burgers,” in Vegetarian: Tasty recipes for everyday. Barnes and Noble: New York. 167.
Bittman, Mark. “Cheese ‘Burger’,” in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. Double B Publishing, Inc. and Wiley Publishing, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2007. 220.