The Story of the Strange Veggie Burger

I’ll admit it–I love diners. I love it that they usually have lots of chrome inside and out, that the cooks yell out the finished orders to the waitresses, and that the menu is largely composed of what I call comfort food. You know; macaroni and cheese, savory casseroles, burgers, hot dogs, shepherd’s pie, BBQ, club sandwiches, soups and so on. Then there are the desserts: lofty pies stuffed with apples or berries, cheesecakes, cookies, ice cream, etc. You can lways find something you like to eat, and the service is always good.

The Crankee Yankee and I were headed up to visit my Mom and Dad, and decided to stop for a late lunch at a diner on the way. No chrome or hollering cooks, but still diner-ish on the inside. We went through the menu, and really couldn’t see anything that looked or sounded good. The menu seemed pretty ho-hum, and there was no mac and cheese to be found.

However, there were some specials, one of which was a veggie burger. Although I like veggie burgers, I’ll admit that ordering one at a restaurant of any stripe can be risky. I’ve eaten veggie burgers that were oatmeal or bean-based, ones made chiefly out of chopped mushrooms, and so on. Some are pretty good, others, not so much. But nothing could prepare me for THIS veggie burger.

On the face of it, it looked good; a large patty with what looked like a crunchy coating, with some melted cheese on top. The bun was a brioche type, and there was a side of sliced tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. I took a bite–the first thing that registered in my cerebellum was the texture–mushy. Most veggie burgers have a texture much like a real burger–this one was, well; squishy.

I took a look at the contents–it was mainly peas, carrots and corn, mixed up with what had to be leftover mashed potatoes, then formed into a patty and fried. I have to say that this was a new taste sensation, and not a very good one. I’ve never seen peas, carrots and corn in a veggie burger. Maybe I just haven’t tried enough veggie burgers, but this one was a total loser.

Just in case you wish to make your own veggie burgers that don’t squish in the first mouthful, here is my go-to recipe for mushroom burgers. They are well worth the time it takes to make them, as they are delicious.

Mushroom Veggie Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. *mushrooms, roughly chopped (combination of crimini, shiitake, and Portobello)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

*I used Portobello

Heat 1 tbsp oil in large saucepan. Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid boils off, and the mushrooms begin to saute.

In large bowl, add mushroom mixture to oats, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to develop the flavors. Shape into patties. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large non-stick skillet, over medium heat. Fry patties, cooking about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Makes four large or six small  burgers.

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