It has crunch, serious flavor, and holds together.

By Shira Bocar
May 06, 2018
california style veggie burger
Credit: Shira Bocar

Friends often ask me for a veggie burger recommendation. I'll throw out a handful of recipes with my notes and changes. How I've longed for one simple link. Finally my quest to find the most perfect, published veggie burger recipe is over. I'm all about the California-Style Veggie Burgers from my test kitchen colleague Lauryn Tyrell.

This burger has everything: serious flavor, crispy outer crust, a wholesome combination of whole grains, greens, and plant-based protein, plus it holds together-that crumbly aspect is not my favorite thing about a veggie burger!

The patty mixture is a perfect blend of simple ingredients-steamed spinach, sauteed onions, garlic, shiitakes, and chopped cilantro-that brings a satisfying texture and hearty flavor. Cooking the vegetables first guarantees a burger that stays together and tastes well-rounded (who wants a biteful of chopped raw onion?). Pinto beans add heft and protein, and coarsely mashing half the mixture helps keeps the patty intact while also preventing it from turning into a mushy affair. Win-win-win.

Bulgur wheat pulls a double shift in this recipe; it's a whole-grain binder in the patty and a crispy crust on the outside. The secret to the crunchy, golden shell is a long moderate sear in the pan. We're talking 8 minutes a side here, folks. Don't skip this step-and definitely use a nonstick skillet. And don't forget to let this mixture chill for half an hour-that makes for easy patty forming.

These burgers taste best freshly cooked. There is a make-ahead angle: I like to make a batch of this mixture and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, cooking to order. Another plus: this recipe also makes dynamite vegetarian breakfast sausage-form them into smaller patties using a 1/4-cup measure. You've got breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered.

For topping ideas, Lauryn recommends the full California treatment of sprouts, avocado, and sliced Swiss cheese. If you want to up the vegetable factor, I've enjoyed this burger in a lettuce wrap with sliced tomato. The test kitchen's favorite condiment for these burgers-and just about anything-is Dijonnaise (equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard), but you can substitute your favorite condiment.

Hope you enjoy sharing this recipe as much as I do!

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