For years I tried and tried to come up with an easy way to make a great-tasting burger substitute. When paired with a crusty bun, this burger has a hearty texture and robust taste that stands in magnificently for the meat-based version. Bonus: This burger freezes beautifully for up to one month, so to save time—make a double batch!
Makes 4 servings
• 1 1/2 cups lightly packed, fresh, soft whole-grain bread crumbs (from about 3 to 4 large slices) (see notes below)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or all-purpose seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 2 cups chopped mushrooms
• 1/3 cup diced onion
• 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari or 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a medium baking pan with unbleached parchment paper. Put the bread crumbs, Italian or all-purpose seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Put the walnuts in a blender and process in pulses until they resemble coarsely ground flour. Add the walnuts to the bread crumbs and stir gently to incorporate. Put the mushrooms, onion, and tamari in a blender and process to a chunky purée. Add the mushroom mixture to the walnut–bread crumb mixture and stir to incorporate.
2. Place a 3-inch cookie cutter ring on the parchment. Pack one-quarter of the mushroom–bread crumb mixture into the ring and press it firmly and evenly into the ring to form a “burger.” Gently remove the ring. Repeat with the remaining mushroom–bread crumb mixture. Flatten each burger slightly with the back of a flat spatula. Bake for 18 minutes. Flip each burger and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or until the burgers are slightly crisp and golden.
3. Serve on sandwich buns, topped with lettuce, tomato, sweet onion, mustard, and ketchup.
Gluten-free option: To make gluten-free bread crumbs, use your favorite gluten-free bread in place of the whole-grain bread.
To make fresh bread crumbs: Put 3 to 4 large slices of whole-grain bread in a blender and process into coarse crumbs.
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