Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

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I’ve loaded up the recipe archives with several chicken recipes, so now it’s time to add some more vegan and vegetarian recipes! To kick things off, here is a versatile, very tasty and very nutritious tofu based burger.

I haven’t done much in the garden this year, but I did rather randomly sew a whole lot of ‘cut and come again’ type greens seeds. Despite not taking much care of them, at the moment we are inundated with loads of slightly insect and slug-nibbled arugula or rucola, Swiss chard and other greens.

These vegan burgers are a very nice way to use up lots of greens like these in ways other than in salads. They are light yet very flavorful, so that even the most hardened carnivore is likely to gobble them up. They are good plain, or with a dipping sauce, and are great for bentos.

Recipe: Mediterranean greens vegan burgers

Makes about 12 to 15 small/mini burgers.

  • About 2 cups of blanched and tightly squeezed out dark green leafy vegetables - about 6-7 cups of washed greens. Use at least half strong flavored greens such as arugula (rucola/rocket), cress, shungiku, mustard greens, etc. The rest can be mild flavored greens like chard, spinach, etc.
  • 450g / 1 lb firm tofu, drained
  • 120g / 4 oz. fresh mushrooms (you can use one type of mushroom, or a mix, whatever you have), finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • olive oil

To prepare the greens: Cook the greens in boiling water for a couple of minutes until they are limp. Thicker leaves might have to go in first, then thinner leaves. Drain then plunge the greens in cold water. Drain, and gather up the greens into clumps and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Chop up fairly finely.

To prepare the tofu: If you have a big thick block, slice it in half lengthwise. Put on a microwave safe plate and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then wrap up in paper towels to draw off excess moisture. Alternatively if you don’t have a microwave oven, boil the tofu for about 3 minutes, drain well, then put into a sieve. Put a weight on top such as a bowl full of water, and let drain for about 10 minutes. Draining the tofu well is the key to having a burger mixture that is not too watery to hold together. (This holds true for any tofu-based mixture like this.)

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is limp and transparent. Add the mushrooms, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are fairly dry and there are no puddles of moisture around. Add the chopped up greens and sauté briefly for a couple of minutes.

Put all the ingredients except the olive oil into a bowl, and mix very well with your hands, until the mixture is almost paste-like rather than crumbly. If it seems too wet to you add a bit more breadcrumbs and mix well again.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan or griddle and add a little olive oil. Form the burger mixture into small patties (put a little oil on your hands if the mixture sticks too much), and panfry with medium-high heat on both sides until golden brown. You can eat the burgers plain, or with a sauce - ketchup is fine!

Notes

For burgers on a bun: If you form this mixture into big patties, it might fall apart when you try to turn it. Try making small burgers and arranging 2 or 3 on your bun, and don’t forget to add some sauce.

As I’ve stated above, the key to making a mixture that stays together is to drain as much moisture as you can from the tofu. For this reason, you must use firm or extra-firm tofu, not silken or soft tofu, for this recipe.

For maximum flavor, try to use peppery greens as at least half of your greens mixture.

You can use any kind of mushrooms. (And yes you do need mushrooms for the texture. If you don’t like mushrooms or greens, or tofu, this is not the recipe for you.)

Variation: Vegan ‘meatballs’ in sauce

Make ‘meatballs’ (or very small slightly flattened burgers) with the mixture, and fry them until golden brown. Add to a tomato sauce (homemade or from a jar, whichever you prefer). Just stir them into your sauce near the end of your cooking time and simmer briefly, or they will gradually crumble away in the sauce. They are definitely not meat, but are still pretty good. If you’re not a vegan, adding some grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese to the mixture will make the ‘meatballs’ richer and better.

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Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

Hello Maki,

First, thank you for your wonderful site - I’m enjoying reading and trying out some of your recipes. Just reading the new recipe for green vegan burgers I’m wondering why you microwave the tofu - does this help to drain it?

Liz

Yes, microwaving the tofu

Yes, microwaving the tofu for a couple of minutes is the fastest way to drain tofu, which needs to be done for tofu-based recipes like this.

wow!

I just finished eating these (had them for dinner while prepping my first vegan bento!) and they were super yummy. I can’t believe how flavorful they were. I’m thinking of trying a thai flavor, with ginger and some green curry paste. Have you tried other flavorings?

I sometimes make it with

I sometimes make it with just chopped onion or green onion added, or grated ginger, and so on. It’s a very versatile recipe! Thai flavors sound great!

freezing?

would it be possible to freeze these once made for later reheating? would the texture and flavor hold up? these sound delicious :) especially for last-minute lunches.

They do freeze pretty well,

They do freeze pretty well, though the texture and color do change a bit. Still good though after freezing!

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

I may sound stupid saying this, but after i have drained the tofu, I need to mash it up and then add it to the other ingredients, right? I want to try this recipe, but before I do, I just want to make sure I have the directions down clearly. Thanks for anyone's input, I would greatly appreciate it!

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

Yes, you mash up the tofu after draining/pressing out water, then mix in the other ingredients.

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

Maki, I have tried so many of your recipes and loved them all. Thank you for your wonderful site! As a vegetarian, I have a lot more energy using your recipes than when I was trying to get my protein through non-fat dairy.

I found this recipe while searching for a way to use up my tofu and veggies. I used carrots and fresh garden tomatoes instead of the mushrooms, and unfortunately my tofu had gotten pushed to the back of the fridge and frozen.

After it thawed, it was spongy, and when I tried to form patties, they crumbled. So I added some fat-free cottage cheese and tomato paste, and turned it into a sort of vegetarian sloppy joe. It was still delicious!

I can't wait to try this recipe as written, but I thought I'd share my serendipitous alternative. (FYI: the greens I used were kale, arugula, bib lettuce, red mustard, and sorrel.)

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

I took out the mushrooms, and added a small can of tomato paste and extra oregano and made these "italian style" and they came out very well.

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

These are great! I was having trouble getting them to hold together at first, but after adding a little bit of corn starch, they stayed together just fine. Just a tip for anyone who finds that the patties fall apart in the saucepan - a little bit of corn or potato starch (just one tablespoon for the whole mixture) goes a long way!

Re: Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

I made these to get rid of some escarole that was way too bitter for me to eat in salad (alas.) I actually was initially not too wild about these BUT THEN I put some sun-dried tomatoes on top, and now I am loving them. Mmmmm.

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