One of my favourite ways to eat overabundant summer vegetables is as burgers. After weeks of eating the same veggies over and over, burgers are a great way to make vegetables seem like not just ANOTHER dinner of zucchini (or whatever else we’ve been eating that week). And, of course, there’s nothing better in summer than a good burger dripping with melted cheese and slathered in ketchup!
As a vegetarian, I’ve experimented with a wide array of burger recipes. Some have great flavour, but fall apart when they’re flipped. Others taste dry and dull. Over the years, I’ve combined ingredients and techniques from dozens of vegetarian burger recipes to arrive at a versatile, simple recipe that tastes great, holds together well, and freezes beautifully. This recipe works with just about any vegetable you can grate, and I rarely make it the same way twice, because I use whatever is coming out of the garden at the time.
Here is my base recipe. I’ve included specific quantities as a guide, but I rarely actually measure anything that goes into my burgers—I measure my oats by the handful, and my oil by the glug—the burgers are reasonably forgiving, once you have a feel for what the final consistency should be like.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 Tbs paprika (or ½ Tbs smoked paprika, or a combination of the two)
6-8 cups grated vegetables (any summer squash, carrots, beets, eggplant—use whatever you have in abundance)
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (or up to a cup, if your vegetables are particularly moist)
½ cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and/or thyme)
¾ cup nuts or seeds, toasted and ground to a fine powder (sunflower seeds, walnuts, and cashews are my favourites)
1 tsp prepared mustard
3 Tbs sesame oil
1 ½ Tbs soy sauce
½ tsp ground fennel
1 tsp dried oregano
Black pepper to taste
½ c – 2 c bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Place nuts or seeds in a shallow pan and into the heating oven to toast. When they’re ready, they will be aromatic and slightly browned. Grind them in a spice or coffee grinder, or in a rotary cheese grater.
While the nuts are toasting, gently sauté the onion, garlic and paprika in a large skillet until the onion is translucent. Add grated vegetables and ¼ cup of water to the skillet, cover and let the vegetables cook until they begin to soften and release moisture, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables begin to soften, add the oats and cook uncovered until most of the moisture is gone.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs and bread crumbs together in a large mixing bowl and taste for spicing. Add enough bread crumbs to make the mix stiff, but not dry. Thoroughly mix in the eggs. Form into patties and place on a well-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the burgers after about 15 minutes.
To make cheeseburgers, lay a slice of cheese over each burger 5 minutes before the end of baking.
Using the larger amount of vegetables, this recipe makes enough for two dinners for my family of four. The burgers freeze well and make a great dinner to pull out at the end of a busy day. Layer waxed paper between fully baked burgers so you can easily separate them when frozen. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven.