Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

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I've loaded up the recipe archives with several chicken recipes, so now it's time to add some more vegan and vegetarian recipes! To kick things off, here is a versatile, very tasty and very nutritious tofu based burger.

I haven't done much in the garden this year, but I did rather randomly sew a whole lot of 'cut and come again' type greens seeds. Despite not taking much care of them, at the moment we are inundated with loads of slightly insect and slug-nibbled arugula or rucola, Swiss chard and other greens.

These vegan burgers are a very nice way to use up lots of greens like these in ways other than in salads. They are light yet very flavorful, so that even the most hardened carnivore is likely to gobble them up. They are good plain, or with a dipping sauce, and are great for bentos.

Recipe: Mediterranean greens vegan burgers

Makes about 12 to 15 small/mini burgers.

  • About 2 cups of blanched and tightly squeezed out dark green leafy vegetables - about 6-7 cups of washed greens. Use at least half strong flavored greens such as arugula (rucola/rocket), cress, shungiku, mustard greens, etc. The rest can be mild flavored greens like chard, spinach, etc.
  • 450g / 1 lb firm tofu, drained
  • 120g / 4 oz. fresh mushrooms (you can use one type of mushroom, or a mix, whatever you have), finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • olive oil

To prepare the greens: Cook the greens in boiling water for a couple of minutes until they are limp. Thicker leaves might have to go in first, then thinner leaves. Drain then plunge the greens in cold water. Drain, and gather up the greens into clumps and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Chop up fairly finely.

To prepare the tofu: If you have a big thick block, slice it in half lengthwise. Put on a microwave safe plate and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then wrap up in paper towels to draw off excess moisture. Alternatively if you don't have a microwave oven, boil the tofu for about 3 minutes, drain well, then put into a sieve. Put a weight on top such as a bowl full of water, and let drain for about 10 minutes. Draining the tofu well is the key to having a burger mixture that is not too watery to hold together. (This holds true for any tofu-based mixture like this.)

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is limp and transparent. Add the mushrooms, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are fairly dry and there are no puddles of moisture around. Add the chopped up greens and sauté briefly for a couple of minutes.

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a bowl, and mix very well with your hands, until the mixture is almost paste-like rather than crumbly. If it seems too wet to you add a bit more breadcrumbs and mix well again.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle and add a little olive oil. Form the burger mixture into small patties (put a little oil on your hands if the mixture sticks too much), and panfry with medium-high heat on both sides until golden brown. You can eat the burgers plain, or with a sauce - ketchup is fine!

Notes

For burgers on a bun: If you form this mixture into big patties, it might fall apart when you try to turn it. Try making small burgers and arranging 2 or 3 on your bun, and don't forget to add some sauce.

As I've stated above, the key to making a mixture that stays together is to drain as much moisture as you can from the tofu. For this reason, you must use firm or extra-firm tofu, not silken or soft tofu, for this recipe.

For maximum flavor, try to use peppery greens as at least half of your greens mixture.

You can use any kind of mushrooms. (And yes you do need mushrooms for the texture. If you don't like mushrooms or greens, or tofu, this is not the recipe for you.)

Variation: Vegan 'meatballs' in sauce

Make 'meatballs' (or very small slightly flattened burgers) with the mixture, and fry them until golden brown. Add to a tomato sauce (homemade or from a jar, whichever you prefer). Just stir them into your sauce near the end of your cooking time and simmer briefly, or they will gradually crumble away in the sauce. They are definitely not meat, but are still pretty good. If you're not a vegan, adding some grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese to the mixture will make the 'meatballs' richer and better.