I think the reason why so many crave meat burgers lies not mainly in the fact, that the meat taste is so irresistible. Of course meat has flavors that are unique and cannot be replaced with plant-based groceries. What makes burgers so special, however, is the perfect combination of: fluffy toasted buns, flavourful burger sauce, fresh juicy tomatoes and pickles, earthy greens, aromatic onions and finally the umami meat taste. Let me tell you, this VEGAN PROTEIN BURGER of mine is so close to the authentic meat flavor, that you might even forget that you are not actually eating a meat burger. Especially in combination with my burger sauce: DELICIOUS!
Usually I don’t make vegan burgers that often, that is to say, I don’t call them burgers. Because I always associate a real meat burger with the term. I also would not call a vegan tiramisu, tiramisu – it’s just something different. And why not give it a different name, when it doesn’t taste at all like the original. I used to love burgers, and I used to love tiramisu – that means that my expectation will be so high, in fact almost impossible to meet. Perhaps this makes sense only to people who grew up with a plant-based diet, and don’t associate it with the original. But then this, in fact, would also not be logical: Why should you downgrade your own diet by giving it terms that aim to mimic another diet? In the case of burger I kind of understand it, because you don’t want to call it sandwich, as it is made with buns. What should you call it otherwise?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT – WHY ARE ORGANIC EATING PLACES SO RARE?
I love cooking and baking, especially because I love to experiment all the time, so I usually cook three times a day. There are however days when you want to enjoy the weather outside, when you are on the way, on the rush, or when you just want to be pampered, and you desire to eat something delicious in a restaurant or café. To me this subject has become quite exhausting. I live in Berlin and it’s really shocking, especially for a capital city, how rare organic places are. I have been searching for them like crazy, trying places out who claim to use just the best ingredients, and in the end finding out that they are just no different to the mainstream. It is super disappointing and I cannot explain myself why it is so hard to open an organic place. In addition it is so inconsistent of the owners: they claim that their highest priority is the quality of the ingredients, and that their quality decides over the taste of the food. Nevertheless they don’t buy organic – even worse: they often buy the cheapest ingredients available.
I have cooked for several cafés and restaurants and believe me when I tell you I was so shocked, that I had to quit. They were the most popular and hippest places, eating places I used to go to, believing them in using great ingredients. Unfortunately I had to learn: they use the cheapest groceries on the market. Only twice I made good experiences, but not perfect ones, concerning the quality of the ingredients. With this gained experiences I became more and more sceptical with eating places, always trying to catch a quick glimpse behind the scenes, trying to find pieces of evidence… of their ingredients they use, brands they buy… I mostly find hints that they sadly use cheap ingredients. When I can’t find any evidence I ask the waiter or owner, what kind of ingredients they use. Usually the first few words are extremely telling: most of the times they have no idea, don’t care or try to avoid giving an honest answer. When you do care and buy organic, you naturally want to talk about it, right?!
So why is that the case? Is it a lack of knowledge? Or is it in the end the greed that is predominant – the option to make more money by buying cheaper ingredients? I think, we as eatery visitors are able to change this circumstance – by just avoiding the places that don’t show effort, or evidence of using organic ingredients. Sadly this would mean that there aren’t so many options out there. I know two organic restaurants here in Berlin: one is unfortunately not so tasty and the other one has super unfriendly owners and waiters, but tastes good. So please people out there: try to avoid places who buy just the cheapest ingredients, or at least ask questions about the origin and quality of the ingredients uses. You can create a mindset shift as a customer by demanding something better. And for all the passionate chefs out there: please open organic, tasty restaurants 🙂
SERVES: 4 burgers + some leftover patties
130 g brown lentils
100 g white quinoa
200 g cremini mushrooms
30 g walnuts
20 g sunflower seeds
50 g oat flakes
1 red onion
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp bbq sauce
1 tbsp minced parsley
½ tsp paprika powder
10 g ground flaxseed + 2 tbsp tap water
olive oil for sauté
3 tbsp soy yoghurt
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp grainy mustard
2 tsp finely minced parsley
½ small garlic clove crushed
salt & pepper
4 burger buns (organic & vegan)
baby spinach leaves
leftover caramelized red onion
NOTE: – it’s even better to let the burger patties sit for 10 minutes after frying, as the texture gets even better
Cook quinoa and brown lentils (separately) according to packaging instructions and let them cool. Mix flax seeds and water and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
Halve the onion, then slice it and mash the garlic clove. Heat a pan with two tablespoons of olive oil on lowest heat and sauté the onion together with the garlic for 10 to 15 minutes until caramelized and golden brown. Then set aside.
Halve the mushrooms and cut each halve into crescents. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat and sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Let them cool.
In a food processor add walnuts, sunflower seeds and parsley and mix until finely ground. Add the paprika powder, the cooked lentils, the cooked quinoa, the mushrooms, the parsley, the bbq sauce, the flax seeds and half of the caramelized onion with the mashed garlic clove. Leave the rest of the onion to assembly the burger. Pulse until well combined and you get a smooth ‘dough’. Let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes.
For the burger sauce stir all ingredients in a small bowl.
In a pan heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over low to medium-high heat. Either form 4 patties with your hands, around 1.5 – 2 cm thick or take for each pattie a big heaped tablespoon and add it to the pan, shaping it immediately into a pattie with a spatula. This might work better, as the mixture is quite sticky. Fry them for around 5 minutes from each side until golden brown and crispy. Assembly the burger and enjoy!
Healthy for people & planet – please go always organic!