Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Meaty Vegan Veggie Burgers

Good news: Spring has finally arrived! All this sunshine and fresh air means that we can break out the barbecue and grill up some delicious veggie burgers. Veggie burgers can cost you an arm and a leg. A pack of four can cost you upwards of 8$, and at that price a student can't afford to eat burgers that often (which is really sad). So earlier this year I started working on a no-fail burger recipe that is sure to please.

Cheese burger topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms with alfalfa sprouts, pickle and tomato,
served on a homemade multigrain bun with a side of Kale Caesar Salad 

Lots of veggie burger recipes are temperamental, and can't be grilled because they just fall to pieces. The trick is using vital wheat gluten (Sorry gluten-free-ers). Vital wheat gluten is the protein from wheat, containing 75% protein. This product is used to improve the texture of breads, as well create many imitation meat products. If you are looking to buy this product for the first time, it is commonly found at health food stores like Bulk Barn or at higher end grocery stores in the health foods section (try Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten). This product seems pretty expensive, but you have to compare it back to those pre-made varieties. It's worth it, trust me.

My burgers are always topped with a crazy amount of home-grown sprouts. This bad boy is on a homemade pretzel bun, served with a side slaw.
In addition to the wheat gluten, this burger also has textured vegetable protein (TVP) ("You're vegan? How on earth are you getting your protein?" hehe) and lentils (because I love lentils), but if you want a really meaty texture, or what to try and trick your friends or family into eating a veggie burger, use all TVP.

Need an idea for a side dish? Try some of my favourite side dishes to pair with burgers:
Creamy Vegan Coleslaw
Kale Caesar Salad
Vegetable Quinoa Salad or
- a delicious Potato Salad

Serves: 8 full size burgers or about 18 sliders


1/2 cup dry TVP
1/3 cup raw red lentils
1 cup boiling water
1 cup hot vegetable broth
1/8 cup ketchup (low sodium)
1/8 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or alternatively regular paprika)
Scant 1 tsp onion powder
Scant 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp coriander
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
Hot sauce or sriracha, optional
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4-5 crimini mushrooms or 1 medium portobello, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup whole wheat or white flour
1 cup vital wheat gluten
Up to 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, panko or crushed saltine crackers

Barbecue sauce

Combine: 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp molasses, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and chipotle hot sauce or chipotle powder (or hot sauce and smoked paprika) to taste.

Your patty mixture should be a heavy, moist dough.


Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a large baking tray with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper, lightly oil.
In a large bowl, pour hot liquid over dry TVP and red lentils, cover with plastic wrap and let soften for 10 minutes. 
Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the flour,vital wheat gluten and bread crumbs, and mix to combine. 
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. At this point the flavours will be more intense than the final burgers because you haven't added the unseasoned flour and wheat gluten yet.
Stir in the flour and vital wheat gluten. 
You should have a wet dough, with very little to no liquid at the bottom of the bowl. If there is excess liquid, you can add up to 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. (Alternatively, you can coat the outside of your burgers with the bread crumbs)
Form the dough into patties, place on the lined pan, and cover with aluminum foil. 
Ready for the oven!
Bake covered for 30 minutes for full-sized burgers, or 20 minutes for slider-sized patties.
At this point, either turn the patties, baste with barbecue sauce and bake for 15 more minutes uncovered (or 10 for smaller patties), or grill on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side*.

*That initial bake is going to make sure that your burgers don't fall apart on the grill. If you are going to grill your burgers, I suggest you baste the burger with olive oil before you stick it on the grill, and then you can add BBQ sauce after you flip if using.