If I have seen this show once, I have seen it 10 times, but because David is such a freak for burgers, we always watch it again. And again. Perhaps you have also seen it (more than once, too)–“The Best Thing I Ever Ate-Burgers” episode on Food TV.
Not being a “burger” person, I generally tune the program out and read a book or magazine. But this time, I actually watched and listened. At the end of the show, Duff, of Ace of Cakes, talks about the “best burger I ever ate” and, low and behold, it’s a vegetarian burger. My interest immediately piqued and I am motivated to do a bit more investigating about this fabulous vegetarian burger Duff adores.
And there it is. The recipe for the farmhouse veggie burger Duff raved about. It comes from The Farm Cafe in Portland, Oregon. This farm-to-fork restaurant opened in 2003 and has enjoyed high acclaim for the food, and then (UPDATE) permanently closed in 2015.
After making summer vegetable lasagna earlier this week and receiving rave reviews from David, I thought I’d push the envelope a little more and use some of the leftover eggplant to make another vegetarian dish.
And, wow. I am speechless. It’s been over six years since I have eaten red meat and my go-to burger is generally a grilled portabella mushroom, which can actually be kind of boring. This farmhouse burger definitely exceeded my expectations. In fact, I have enjoyed these burgers so much, it’s practically all I have eaten for the past two days. And happily.
I have never bought or even had one of those frozen veggie discs they call a burger, and most veggie burger recipes include rice or some other grain to help hold it together (I made this version one time and it was not a winner). The farmhouse burger simply uses eggplant, breadcrumbs, aromatics and cheese. No egg. No rice. And you could easily use gluten-free breadcrumbs and vegan cheese, should you choose.
I served the first burger I ate over a salad topped with caramelized onions. Then I had the burger on a bun. And. Duff. Is. Right. The burger is exquisite and is definitely the best way to celebrate this vegetarian burger that could easily be vegan with a simple modification.
Either way, you choose to serve this burger, you won’t miss the meat. The eggplant really gives ita hearty, meatlike texture and the cheese and breadcrumbs keep it all together to create a crispy crust.
Everything Duff recommends on the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” shows is typically spot-on and this burger is no different. While I may not watch his show, he is now my hero. Mover over portabella, this farmhouse burger is here to stay.
Farmhouse Veggie Burger
- 2 globe eggplants tops removed and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1/4 yellow onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese or Daiya vegan cheddar shreds or Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free breadcrumbs or homemade breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt plus more to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil plus more as needed
- Hamburger buns
Over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons olive oil and saute eggplant until very soft, adding more oil if needed. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Once slightly softened, add the shallots, onions and garlic, add another sprinkle of salt and continue cooking until everything is nice and soft.
While the eggplant is cooking, in a big bowl add the breadcrumbs, parsley and shredded cheese and set aside.
When the eggplant mixture is cooked, take 3/4 of it and place it in a food processor, and place the remaining 1/4 in the big bowl with the dry ingredients. Pulse or blend the eggplant mixture until smooth.
Add the eggplant mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine well. The hot eggplant mixture will melt the cheese. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Form the eggplant mixture into 4-6 patties and place them on a cookie sheet or large dish lined with parchment or wax paper. Stick them in a freezer for 10-15 minutes to flash cool them. Then place them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Remove the patties from the fridge and in a saute pan big enough to cook at least two or three burgers at a time, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add veggie burgers and let cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on how big your burgers are. The cheese will create a crispy crust on the outside and you'll want it to be heated through, so give it time. Flip the burgers and cook another 5 minutes until crispy on the outside. Repeat with the rest of the patties.
Serve in a bun and top with caramelized onions or any other condiments you want. A side salad makes a great addition to this healthy meal. Alternatively, you could serve the patty on top of a bunch of greens.