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Sometimes, you just want a big juicy burger. You want to get outside, fire up the grill, and sink your teeth into a big saucy mess. In America, we do this as an act of patriotism. But when I think about veggie burgers, I picture processed soy protein isolate and long ingredient lists full of chemicals. Or if they are homemade, I picture mushy, over glorified potato pancakes spotted with bewildering chunks of carrots and peas. While both of those sound better to me than a bloody, artery clogging beef patty, neither are very compelling. So I set out to make a veggie burger made with whole foods, one that looks, tastes, flips, and sizzles like the burgers in our American dream.

I got 5 men who you couldn’t pay to eat a plant based diet to be my test subjects for this recipe. Because I didn’t just want to make an amazing veggie burger, I wanted to make an amazing burger period; and I needed a tough crowd to be the judge.

My inspiration for flavor was the In’n’Out Double Double, a Southern California standby. This burger, in my opinion, exceeds all others because it is packed with fresh ingredients and uses 1000 island dressing as a secret weapon sauce.

After perousing dozens of popular recipes, I saw some great ideas, but I found that they were generally missing 1 or 2 of the 4 factors that would make a burger great:

  1. Flavor. Of course! You want it to taste savory, charred, and meaty.

  2. Texture. it can’t squeeze out of buns like a tube of toothpaste when you bite into it. It can’t be a crumbly mess like beef taco filling. It can’t have giant chunks of various vegetables all over, it should be a pretty uniform texture.

  3. Appearance. Does it look like a latke? It shouldn’t. Is it weirdly grey? We don’t want that. We want that brown sear on the outside, with a pink and juicy inside, and grill marks.

  4. Quality. The ingredients should mostly be whole, healthy, nutritious ingredients. Not overly processed or chemical laden.

3 out of 4 just won’t do, especially when you are serving these to discerning eaters.

The Double-Double-Take: Super Deluxe Veggie Burger

Makes 6-8 patties

1/4 of a whole beet

5 tbs olive oil, divided (plus additional to grease the grill/pan)

2 portobello mushrooms

1/2 of a whole red onion

6 cloves garlic

1/2 cup gluten free uncooked rolled oats

5 ounces of cooked brown rice

15 ounces cooked black beans

1 tbs ketchup

1tbs dijon mustard

1/2 tbs paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the beet into quarters and set aside 3 of those quarters for another use. Put the single quarter on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil. Wrap it up tight and pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, mince the portobellos, onion, and garlic. In a large frying pan over medium flame, heat 2 tbs olive oil and added the minced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes, add onions. Cook for another few minutes until onions are soft and translucent, add garlic, cook about 1 more minute. Set aside to cool.

Put the half cup of oats in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds to break down the large pieces. Once the beet is done and cooled, chop it into a few smaller pieces and add it to the blender as well, along with the black beans and brown rice. Give them about 10 long pulses, scraping down the sides as necessary. You don’t want to form a homogenous paste, but you do want the rice grains and beans to break down a bit.

In a very large bowl, combine all the ingredients and use your hands or a giant fork to mix everything together.

Form patties and refrigerate for about 30 min before cooking. You can also make these the day before you plan to cook.

Preheat your grill till it is piping hot and oil up the grate.

Throw the patties on there and flip them after about 5 minutes. This time can vary depending on your grill so use your best judgement. The main thing you want to see is glorious grill marks.

You can also fry these in a pan over medium high heat, when I did that they only took about 3 minutes per side.

Toast your buns and pile on the fixins’!

Pictured here is lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, and 1000 island dressing.

About that dressing….

1000 Island Burger Sauce

makes about 1.5 cups

1 cup Veganaise

1/4 cup ketchup

3 sweet baby pickles, minced

2 tbs of the pickling liquid

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and slather onto your buns.

Suggestions for variations:

barbecue sauce and grilled onions

avocado slices and coconut bacon

Grilled veggies and tahini

But I don’t need to tell you how to eat a burger.

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