In Search of the Best Veggie Burgers

I love going to different burger places around town. Not because I want a big patty of ground beef on an awesomely delicious bun. See, I love going to burger places that make their own veggie burgers to try them out. I’ve been to a handful of places, and once got conned into ordering a frozen veggie patty because the description in the menu made it sound like it was handmade. Never again! (Now I ask if the menu doesn’t specify!)

Well, the other day, I took a look in my fridge and noticed I had a rather large zucchini that my friend, Jon, had picked from his garden. I searched Pinterest for a zucchini recipe to try, instead of doing what I usually do with zucchini: either stir fry it up in a pan or spritz it with olive oil and throw it under the broiler. Let’s just say I was looking for a little zucchini inspiration.

Well, nothing on Pinterest was tickling my fancy, so I decided to check in a handful of magazines I’m subscribed to for a recipe. And bam! There it was! In the September 2011 issue of Whole Living was a recipe for “Zucchini Patty Sandwiches” that looked delicious! See, I had been wanting to start making my own veggie burgers, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. But now I had my chance!

So, I went to the store to gather the rest of the ingredients and came home to get cookin’! Here are the chickpeas, after their bath and then getting smashed. (Why yes, that is a potato masher. More on that later….)

Shredded zucchini goes in!

And now for the breadcrumbs, onion, egg, and salt.

Mix it all up!

Form into patties, spray with olive oil, and place in preheated oven.

Refrain from eating the raw veggie burger deliciousness. Trust me, it is hard! If you have to, I suggest keeping a bowl of cherry tomatoes within reach so you can snack on those instead of the veggie patty mix.

And enjoy!!!

Oh, yes! Very delicious!

Here’s the recipe!

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches
Source: Whole Living Magazine, September 2011

Ingredients:

  • 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 8 leaves tender lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  • Mash chickpeas in a bowl until smooth. Stir in breadcrumbs, zucchini, onion, egg, and salt. Form into eight 4-by-1/2-inch patties.
  • Saute patties in oil until golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Halve pitas and stuff with patties, yogurt, lettuce, and mint.

My variations and notes:

  1. I mashed the chickpeas in a bowl, using our potato masher. In hindsight, I probably would just stick with a regular old fork. Some of the chickpeas didn’t get mashed, which was ok, but I think the texture would be better if all of them were mashed. Not all of them have to be paste-like, but, next time, I don’t want any whole chickpeas hanging out in my patties!
  2. I didn’t use any of the ingredients after the salt, except I did use some olive oil from my spray bottle. I thought the patties would be delicious without the yogurt/mint combo (which they were!) and I’m not a huge fan of pitas in general. So I opted for a side salad and some alfalfa sprouts, as you can see above!
  3. I forgot to whisk the egg. Whoops.
  4. I didn’t use a whole red onion. I had some left over from something else, so I probably just put in about 1/3 cup or so of chopped red onion. Chopped, not grated. Have you tried grating an onion? I don’t recommend it!
  5. I only made 6 patties instead of 8. They each used about 1/2 cup of the mix. They were pretty beefy (and, by beefy, I mean big). But I liked them that way. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a card-carrying member of the plate-cleaners’ club? :)
  6. And I didn’t cook them in a pan! I baked them in the oven instead. First, I sprayed the foil-lined pan with olive oil, then put the patties down, and then sprayed the tops of the patties with a little more olive oil. I started off with them in a 350-degree oven. They were in there for 20 minutes at that temperature, I think. I flipped them a couple times. Then I turned it up to 375 degrees for another 10 or so minutes. Really, I don’t remember how long I baked them. So use your judgement and watch them! :)
  7. Homegrown zucchinis are delicious!

So, the verdict on the best veggie burgers in San Diego? They’re made right in your kitchen!

Please let me know if you use the recipe! Leave a comment below–I want to know how yours turn out! And add a comment if you know of a veggie burger I need to try!

xoxo,
Lauren

p.s. In case you’re wondering, right now, Longboarder Cafe in Oceanside and O’Brothers in Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego are in the lead for best veggie burger at a restaurant. The black bean patties at Smash Burger are pretty darn good too. But these homemade ones definitely take the cake! :)

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