Essential Tofu Burgers

By • May 26, 2016 7 Comments

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Makes 4 burgers

  • One 14- or 15-ounce block firm tofu, optionally frozen and then thawed
  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed, safflower, or canola
  • 4 cups sturdy but soft greens, such as watercress, spinach, chard, arugula, tatsoi, or baby kale
  • 4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, whisked together with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs or panko (optional)
  • Toasted buns, for serving
  1. Drain the tofu, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel. Top with a heavy object, like a cast-iron skillet or a baking pan filled with a few cans of beans or tomatoes. Press for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a splash of oil. Add the greens and cook until just wilted. Transfer to a plate or cutting board to cool, then gently squeeze out excess liquid and coarsely chop. Wipe out the pan and return it to the heat.
  3. Add another splash of oil to the skillet, followed by the scallions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and fragrant, stirring frequently. Scoot the contents to the perimeter of the pan and pour in the soy sauce. As it bubbles it will caramelize. Stir everything together and remove from the heat.
  4. Cut off about a third of the pressed tofu and break it into the bowl of a food processor. Add the nuts and the cornstarch slurry. Process, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth and tacky-looking. Add the chopped greens and pulse a few times until combined.
  5. Scrape this pasty tofu mixture into a mixing bowl, and add the sautéed aromatics (and any of the liquid left in the pan), the salt, several grinds of black pepper, and the breadcrumbs if using. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the remaining tofu into the mixing bowl. Fold everything together until combined, being gentle so as to not break up the grated tofu too much. Shape into 4 patties.
  6. You can cook your veggie burgers in a skillet, in the oven, or on the grill: - To pan-fry: Preheat a nonstick or seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add a splash of neutral oil. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side. You want them to turn golden brown and to be slightly firmed to the touch. - To bake: Preheat an oven to 325° F, arrange the patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're firm to the touch (they won’t brown too much). - To grill: Bake the patties as instructed here (They’re too delicate in the uncooked state and threaten to fall through the grates). Brush baked burgers generously with neutral oil, then grill on hot grates away from the flame, just until heated through and char marks show.
  7. Sandwich between toasted buns and dress as you please—then serve hot!

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