The No Burger Burger

With Labor Day around the corner you may be planning to break out the grill for a summertime last hoorah. Many of you might think about tossing lumps of mooing meat on your BBQ, but just in case you haven’t decided what to serve here are a few of my favorite “burger” alternatives that we tested this summer.

As you know we have given up beef this year and doing so really has not been that tough. There’s the occasional challenge when out to eat, or the pregnancy burger craving when I finally wanted to look at meat again, but I admit I have not given in. The hubby on the other-hand……we can’t say he’s a perfect angel for sure, more like a delinquent teenager. Yes remember that party when you stuffed meatballs in your mouth while I was pregnant and starving and then pronounced with a full mouth and saucy lips “what? this has beef in it?” I’m pretty sure daggers shot from my eyes as they passed around more hors d’oeuvres that I couldn’t touch. Then there was the “man camping” trip where all he ate was meat and milk. Many different meats, but he certainly didn’t pass on the steak when it went around. Okay this is really not a husband bash session, maybe I am a little jealous it seems.

The reality is that you don’t have to indulge in beef to enjoy a “burger” the options are plenty. Your butcher can just about grind anything up for you these days…chicken, turkey, pork, etc. and I hardly even missed the beef taste when I was eating something equally delicious. There’s also a plethora of veggie and vegan “burger” recipes out there to try. Here are our top three experiments this summer, how we served them, and what our thoughts were.

  1. The best veggie burger I have had goes to Kate McMillan with William’s Sonoma Vegetable of the Day  and her Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Burger, yum! This burger is so good even my beef sneaking peanut butter M&M loving husband got excited about this one! I made a mayo from scratch with local olive oil and used that for the base of the Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise and it was a great addition!We served them with crisp butter lettuce and brioche buns from a local bakery. I wasn’t missing beef on this night.

Recipe For Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper “Burgers” with Smoked Paprika Mayo – 5 servings

  • 5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) mayonnaise (I made mine from scratch)
  • 1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 small red potato
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. seeded and minced jalapeño chili
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 can (15 oz./470 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I actually used dry ones, that I cooked ahead of time)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) chopped roasted red bell pepper (I charred those on the BBQ then into a sealed bowl, to remove skins)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 Tbs. (1 oz./60 g) panko (instead I ground up some homemade croutons in the food processor)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Lettuce leaves for serving (optional)
  • 5 brioche buns, split

To make the paprika mayonnaise, in a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, paprika and lemon juice. Season with salt. Set aside.

Put the potato in a small saucepan. Add water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm) and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potato is fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potato and let cool, then cut into small dice.

In a small fry pan over medium heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring, just until the garlic begins to soften and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas until finely chopped; do not puree. Transfer them to a large bowl and add the bell pepper, eggs, panko, parsley, potato and garlic mixture. Add the 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Using your hands, mix until well combined and then form into 5 patties.

Pour enough oil into a large fry pan to coat the bottom and heat over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook, turning once, until golden brown and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. You can also cook these on the BBQ but I do recommend using a cast iron or grill pan as sometimes they don’t stick together as well as they should depending on your eggs and how dry your chickpeas are. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom half of each bun and top with a burger and a generous dollop of the mayonnaise. Absolutely scrumptious!!!

2. A great alternative to beef is pork, did I mention that I bought a humanely raised and butchered pig and its filling my freezer up? Yes Missy convinced me to buy a pig so pork recipes have been a big deal in our house (please send me any favorites you have). With a little trial and error I made this one up and I hope you enjoy it! Its more like a giant meatball because of its contents but really satisfies the meat craving you desire from your traditional burger. We served it with our favorite “moon cheese” aka Cypress Grove Midnight Moon goat cheese, arugula, carmelized onions, and french mustard that I have been hoarding. They were a crowd pleaser for sure!

Recipe for the Too Much Pork in your Freezer Pork Burger – About 5-6 servings

  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of homemade bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs. finely grated moon cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • 1-2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • Heavy helping of salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Mix all ingredients together preferably by hand, shape into round disks and grill to your liking. Serve with your favorite toppings on a sourdough bun, yum!

3. I cannot take credit for the third one, because it was literally served to me 🙂 But Lamb is a awesome alternative to beef. Missy also bought a lamb, and brought over lamb burgers one summer evening. Here is her recipe (adopted from Epicurious):

Recipe for Lovely Lamb Burgers – Makes about 4

  •  1lb ground lamb
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix ingredients together, shape into disks and grill to your desired doneness. We topped whole wheat buns with spicy mustard, feta, tomatoes, and field greens. These were delicious!

We hope you have a safe and happy Labor Day….and if you are in the Bay Area try to stay cool!!


One thought on “The No Burger Burger

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