Friday, May 15, 2009

May 10, 2009: Believe-it-or-not broccoli burgers

"Vege burgers are awesome!"

This exclamation came, to my surprise, from the full and chewing mouth of our non-veg mate Mike. He went on to explain that he doesn't think beef-based burgers are anything amazing and that most vegetarian burgers aren't seeking to imitate that meatiness, anyway. Unlike so many veg dishes, burgers are free to just be, rather than trying desperately to live up to a standard set by their non-veg inspiration.

It has me considering that there probably isn't one ultimate veg-burger recipe out there, waiting for me to discover it. Some will impress me with their resemblance to meat, perhaps, but others will have their own nuttiness, or smokiness, or the crispiest crust ever seen on something that wasn't deep-fried. None of these properties is better than the other, and a single burger with all of them would probably actually be a bit of a mess. Maybe what I really need is a shortlist of great veg-burger recipes, none of them alike but all of them special.

The second surprise is that a recipe for broccoli burgers could make it onto such a list. While I've no big prejudice against broccoli, really, I just found it difficult to imagine how broccoli could offer anything to the art of the Good Vege Burger. But a positive review and picture of a crispy-golden patty from Johanna is the kind of thing that can bring me around. They didn't get off to a rollicking start; I temporarily forgot the breadcrumbs, and then even when they were stirred through, the patty mix Would. Not. Hold. Together. I persevered, and was happy to discover that after 20 minutes in the oven these patties were developing a handsome golden crust and were entirely flippable.

I served them on pide-style rolls with roasted capsicum, grated carrot, mixed greens and a range of condiments. My new condiment of choice is vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce, which I picked up from Vincent Vegetarian Food Mart (thanks to Kristy and Toby for including me in their expedition to Footscray!). It's a savoury salty delight, with the colour and viscousness of ketjap manis but a distinctly different flavour.

Believe-it-or-not broccoli burgers
(found at Green Gourmet Giraffe, credited there to Rhonda)

2 cups finely chopped broccoli
2/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1 finely chopped onion
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 handful grated cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire, oyster or soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper, to taste
oil spray

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with paper and spray it with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the broccoli, ground hazelnuts, onion, breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir through the sauce and eggs, then add the water gradually while you continue to stir. Don't put quite all the water in if you fear the mixture is getting too mushy. Season to taste, then form the mix into patties as best you can and place them on the baking tray. Don't worry if they fall apart a little, but try cupping them with your hands to form a firm, round edge. Spray the tops of them with a bit more oil.

Bake the burgers for 20 minutes or so, until they've developed a firm and crusty underside. Gently flip them over and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until they're crispy-crusted all over.


  1. glad you liked them - I agree with Mike that they are awesome - and surprisingly so - I think I was worried about them holding together too but when they came out of the oven they had such a great consistency

  2. Great! I've got some broccoli looking a little sad in my fridge. I'll be making these burgers tout de suite! And I agree with you about veg oyster sauce; I've been using it for ages now and I like it much more than actual oyster sauce. Just a question though, Cindy: were the burgers tasty enough? Without any serious spicing, I would have expected them to be a little bland.

  3. We really did, Johanna! Thanks for sharing the recipe. :-)

    Hi Dmargster! The flavour is there (the onion, broccoli, ground nuts and oyster sauce will all play a part) but it is subtle. I'd recommend a judicious splodge of your favourite sauce as a boost. (Currently that brilliant non-oyster stuff for me; always, always chilli sauce for Michael.)

  4. Oh my God, yes! Bookmarked for later. I need more good vege burger recipes.

  5. I hope they fit the bill, Rach. :-)

  6. New to your blog, but definitely book marked now!

  7. Welcome! I hope we see you again, and that you might leave your name next time. :-)

  8. Sorry about the "Anonymous" thing, didn't mean that. But I did mean to bookmark your blog - and I did - and I'm back - and I made your burgers - and they were great - and my family loved them. So thanks from JEN (not Anonymous).

  9. Hi Jen! This is probably our favourite home burger recipe these days, so we're really glad they turned out well for you too. Thanks for taking the time to report back. :-)

  10. Really really love your blog, I check it nearly every day! It's great to see such comprehensive reviews of vegetarian restaurants and recipes.

    Just a question with these burgers, is the broccoli cooked or raw before you put them in the burger mix?

    Thanks again for an awesome blog :)

  11. Welcome Clare! And thanks for the kind words. :-)

    The broccoli doesn't need to be pre-cooked - just chop it up raw and mix it in. The 35+ minutes baking leaves it plenty tender.

  12. Looks pretty good! I normally buy veggie burgers instead of making them, but Sanitarium has apparently stopped selling my favourites, so it's time to give these a try! :)

    1. Good luck with them, Laur.! Don't be put off by how crumbly and green the mixture looks, they're totally transformed by baking. :-)