Sometime in the 1930s, somewhere in the United States, the word hamburger lost its first syllable. By definition, a hamburger is a ground beef patty sandwich, but a burger can be anything it wants. Maybe it’s made out of seafood, say salmon or shrimp. Maybe it’s bean-based or fluffed up with grains. Maybe it’s mostly vegetables, from mushrooms to zucchinis to sweet potatoes.
This freedom is my favorite part. While beef burgers hinge on simplicity—any more than salt and pepper and you’re halfway to meatloaf—veggie burgers know no limits. To veggie burgers and beyond! Premade, frozen brands often advertise products that taste just like meat! But what if your portobello doesn’t want to taste like meat? What if it’s content, even confident, as is? That’s the kind of veggie burger that I want to hang out with.
In Green Burgers, Martin Nordin feels the same way:
When I first started thinking about this book, I was struck by how liberating and creative it is to devise, prepare, and eat green burgers. Whereas a classic meat-based burger is indeed uncompromisingly classic—this is what it looks like, this is how to prepare it, it has to be grilled...no, actually fried...and then there are these accompapniments and nothing else, that’s it—what goes into a green burger is far less restricted. There’s not one classic—you have free rein!
In this free rein, Nordin cooks up white bean burgers with smoked tomatoes and deep-fried sage; chickpea and grilled pepper burgers with dill-dunked cucumber salad; baba ghanoush and borlotti burgers with burrata; and cheesy, minty, bright green pea burgers.
These vibrant lookers were what caught my eye. Basically, you take green peas—always in my freezer, especially toward the end of winter when I’m pretending that it’s spring—and combine them with caramelized onions and fresh mint, scallions and garlic, lots of bread crumbs. Nordin tops his pea burgers with cream cheese, but I opted for milky ricotta. He also deep-fries mushrooms to pile on top. Instead, I roast baby bellas—much easier, still crunchy and bacony. Not, you know, that the mushrooms want to be bacon. They’re doing fine just as they are.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sautéing
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup bread crumbs, fresh or panko
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 1/4 cup grated Asiago (or Parmesan)
- 1 large egg
- 12 ounces frozen green peas, thawed (about 2 1/2 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- 10 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta
- 4 soft burger buns, preferably potato
What’s your go-to veggie burger? Tell us in the comments below!