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'All sizzle and no steak': How to make the best veggie burgers

Restaurant chains like A&W and Earls have hopped on the meatless burger bandwagon with gusto. But some of the most delicious veggie burgers can be made in the comfort of your own home.

Three CBC producers share their favourite veggie burger recipes

The Early Edition studio director Jake Costello and his mother Barbara. She taught him how to make the same veggie burgers she's been making for 45 years.  (Jake Costello/CBC)

Restaurant chains like A&W and Earls have hopped on the meatless burger bandwagon with gusto. But some of the most delicious veggie burgers can be made in the comfort of your own home.

CBC's The Early Edition team has multiple vegetarians who all claim to make the best veggie burger. Producer Catherine Rolfsen, studio director Jake Costello and story producer Jason D'Souza took out their go-to meatless burger recipes and got cooking. 

The Early Edition producer Catherine Rolfsen prepares her 'Working Mom's Burger.' (Jason D'Souza/CBC)

Tofu Millet Lettuce-Wrapped Burgers 

When Jake Costello found out about the veggie burger showdown with his coworkers, he called his mom. She taught him how to make the same veggie burgers she's been making for 45 years. 

Wrapped in "nature's bun"—iceberg lettuce—these burgers are "all sizzle and no steak," said Costello. 

Recipe 

1. Mix in a big bowl finely chopped onion, and whatever other veggies you have in the fridge like broccoli, kale, chard or red pepper.

2. Crumble one brick of extra firm tofu into the bowl.

3. Mix in grated cheese; the amount is up to you.

4. The secret ingredient is love.

5. Mix 1.5 cups of steamed millet.

6. Mix the following ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the rest:

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Siracha
  • 3 tbsp boiling water

7. Add some spices, salt, pepper, mustard powder and anything else you prefer. Mix it all together.

Jake Costello's veggie burgers are packed with tofu, millet, kale and other plant-based ingredients. (Jake Costello/CBC)

8. In a separate small bowl, mix:

  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp of flour

9. In palm-sized handfuls, take the patty mixture, and coat it in the yeast/sesame mixture.

FRIED:

In a cast-iron pan, heat more oil than you'll admit to your dinner guests. Once the pan is hot, add the patties and let them cook for five to 10 minutes. Once browned, flip, and cook the other side. There's a very good chance they'll crumble. That's okay. Rebuild the burger with a spatula. Cheese on top is recommended. Serve in lettuce.

BAKED: 

Place on a cooking pan, and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Flip, and cook for as long as you think it needs.

The Working Mom's Burger

Catherine Rolfsen's burger is all about the ease of preparation. As a working mom always on the move, she loves her five-ingredient, five-minute recipe. 

"For me the perfect veggie burger [is] a little crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, not too crumbly," said Rolfsen

Catherine Rolfsen's simple five-ingredient, five-minute veggie burger recipe. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

Recipe 

  • 2 cups cooked beans (chickpeas, black beans, or lentils are best; canned work just fine)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered 
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, preferably not instant 
  • Spice them up with salt, pepper, chilli powder, cumin or whatever
  • 1 egg
  • Add cheese if you want
  • Some liquid may be necessary (bean liquid, water, ketchup, miso, all work)

Toss the onion in a food processor and give it a whirl until diced. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until chunky but not pureed. If you have time, let the mixture rest for a few minutes. Form patties with your hands and cook in oil in a pan for five to 10 minutes, Serve on a bun, or however you like your burgers. If you have extra mixture, you can freeze it in raw patties on a cookie sheet.  

Portobello Mushroom Burger

"Nature has already created the perfect burger. It's shaped like it. It's meaty enough without actually being meet. It's called the portobello mushroom," says Jason D'Souza. 

The Early Edition story producer Jason D'Souza's portobello mushroom burgers with halloumi and kale. (Jason D'Souza/CBC)

Recipe

  • portobello mushroom caps
  • halloumi 
  • kale
  • tomato
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil 
  • thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder 

1. Clean the mushrooms by removing the stem and spooning out the gills. 

2. Marinate them in a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, oregano, basil and garlic powder for at least an hour.

3. Grill halloumi in a small bit of oil. There's no need to season, as they're quite salty already.

4. Fry up some kale.

5. Grill or bake the mushroom caps until tender.

6. Add tomato.

7. Serve all together on a bun. 

With files by The Early Edition.

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