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Veggie burgers: Patties are delicate but delicious

  • Whole portabella mushrooms, without the stem, only require a quick grilling before they're ready to be sandwiched between buns. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)

    Whole portabella mushrooms, without the stem, only require a quick grilling before they're ready to be sandwiched between buns. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Slightly undercooked lentils and a variety of chopped and grated vegetables add texture and flavor to veggie burgers. These are so good even the kids will gobble them up. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)

    Slightly undercooked lentils and a variety of chopped and grated vegetables add texture and flavor to veggie burgers. These are so good even the kids will gobble them up. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bean burgers couldn't be quicker. Beans, onion, garlic and bread are combined in a food processor and then formed into patties. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)

    Bean burgers couldn't be quicker. Beans, onion, garlic and bread are combined in a food processor and then formed into patties. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Whole portabella mushrooms, without the stem, only require a quick grilling before they're ready to be sandwiched between buns. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)
  • Slightly undercooked lentils and a variety of chopped and grated vegetables add texture and flavor to veggie burgers. These are so good even the kids will gobble them up. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)
  • Bean burgers couldn't be quicker. Beans, onion, garlic and bread are combined in a food processor and then formed into patties. (Sharon K. Ghag/Modesto Bee/MCT)

These veggie burgers draw their flavor from vegetables, and that’s the way it should be.

The most foolproof here are the grilled portabella mushrooms, so it’s no wonder Robin Donovan serves them up in “Campfire Cuisine.” They’re sturdy and so easy to prepare. Spray the caps with olive oil, shake on a little salt and pepper, and grill. They’re ready in about 15 minutes.

The rest of the recipes will require stovetop cooking, because the delicate patties won’t fare well on the grill. Flip them carefully, or they’re liable to fall apart.

While fragile in structure, they’re big on flavor and plenty accommodating when it comes to swapping ingredients.

Make them with any vegetable or beans on hand that can be mashed: black, white or red beans, chickpeas, lentils or potatoes. Swap the vegetables: beets for carrots, or try parsnips, sweet potatoes. Change up the binders: Use quick cook oats, bread crumbs, unseasoned cornmeal stuffing. Add some texture: Cooked brown rice, red rice and quinoa are perfect standbys. Alter the spices by using a prepackaged blend or adding in cumin or coriander. Above all, enjoy.

Vegan Burgers

Serves 4

2 cups cooked or canned black, white or red beans, chickpeas, or lentils, drained, liquid reserved

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

½ cup rolled oats

4 carrots, peeled and grated (1½ cups)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1 tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix

1 teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste

¼ cup olive oil

8 slices whole wheat toast or buns

4 lettuce leaves, tomato, half red onion

4 tablespoons mustard

Combine beans, onion, garlic, oats, carrots, parsley, chili powder, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined but not puréed. If the mixture does not hold together, add reserved bean liquid a tablespoon at a time until it does. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes before shaping burgers.

Shape into patties 1 inch thick. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Film the bottom of a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet with the oil and turn the heat to medium. Cook patties in the hot skillet, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

From “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good,” by Mark Bittman

Grilled Portabella Burgers

Serves 4

4 large portabella mushrooms, stems trimmed

Olive oil spray

Salt and pepper

4 hamburger buns, toasted

½ cup jarred roasted red bell peppers

Spray the mushrooms all over with olive oil or cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over medium-high heat for 7 to 8 minutes per side, until tender. Serve on toasted buns, topped with roasted peppers and any other desired garnishes.

This recipe is from “Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors,” by Robin Donovan (Quirk Books, $15.95).

∎ Variations: Grill cup side down for 10 minutes, then turn. Fill the cavities with slivers of Comté or Gruyere cheese and a heaping tablespoon crème fraîche and grill for 10 more minutes.-from “The Picnic Cookbook,” by Annie Bell (Kyle Books, $19.95).

Make a marinade with ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup soy sauce and 3 garlic cloves. Place the marinade ingredients and 4 mushroom caps in a zipper-top bag for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before grilling.

From “100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without,” by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Veggie Burgers
With Melting Cheese

Serves 4

1 (14-ounce) can aduki beans, drained

2 carrots, grated

1 small onion, grated

1 ounce mixed nuts

1½ cups fresh bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1 tablespoon mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small egg, beaten

Sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying

4 burger buns

4 slices Swiss cheese

Tomato and lettuce for garnish

Mash beans with tomato masher or fork. Add carrots, onions, nuts, bread crumbs, mixed herbs, mushroom ketchup and some salt and pepper. Combine thoroughly. Mix with just enough of the beaten egg to bind the mixture together.

Shape into 4 burgers, place on parchment-paper lined plate, and chill for 30 minutes. Heat enough oil to cover the base of a large non-stick frying pan. Fry burgers over a moderate heat for 6 to 7 minutes on each side until golden.

From “Vegetable Please: The More Vegetables, Less Meat Cookbook,” By Carolyn Humphries

Mushroom Burgers

Serves 4

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup cooked red or brown rice or quinoa

1 pound portabella mushrooms, stems discarded

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

3 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon soy sauce

½ cups fine dry bread crumbs

1 large egg, slightly beaten

¼ cup olive oil

Break one-third of mushrooms into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining two batches.

Cook onion and bell pepper in the butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms, the garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until any liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the rice, parsley, soy sauce and ½ cup bread crumbs. Cool 10 minutes. Stir in egg. Form patties and chill 1 hour.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry patties until deep golden brown, turning over once, about 4minutes total or until cooked through.

Adapted from “The Epicurious Cookbook,” by Tanya Steel and the editors of Epicurious.com

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