Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Veg burgers - yum!

It looks like a regular hamburger, but it's all veg. All yummy veg!

By day, Parke Goodman creates paintings that delight the eye, selling them at the Livingston, Montana, studio he shares with his wife, Bonnie: Mordam Art.

Such creativity can really stir up an appetite. Parke is vegan, and so his food must be hearty as well as free of animal products.

With the flair of a hungry artist, Parke personalized his version of veg burgers that he can make on Sunday and freeze to heat up for lunch all through the week.

There's not really a recipe, Parke insists. You just kind of throw things together, whatever you have handy. There's not a whole lot of fine measurements in his account of the process. But hang in there . . . it turns out great.

First, finely chop a red onion. Then grab a bunch of carrots -- about a pound -- and grate them.

Chop up about 1/2 a pound of cremini mushrooms -- Parke prefers these because they have a firmer texture than the white button mushrooms. When you can afford them, the firmest mushrooms are shiitake and oyster.

He usually adds a beet, shredded with a cheese grater. This gives the burgers a red tinge in case you're missing beef at all, but mostly it adds flavor and nutrients.

Press about a pound of extra firm tofu. Parke has a nifty tofu press that works wonders, but you can put the tofu under a plate with a heavy can on top. The main thing is to get as much water out as possible. Too much water in the mix makes the burgers mushy.

Saute all of the above vegetables for about 10 minutes. (Put the tofu separately into the bowl first.)

Cook some quinoa: 1 cup raw quinoa in 1 1/2 cups water, along with a veggie cube. Or use barley (for a chewy texture) or rice.

In a large bowl, start mixing the tofu along with a tablespoon or so of miso. Add the ingredients you've already prepped.

Add spices -- garlic powder (fresh garlic if you have it), basil, and thyme are Parke's basics.

Add 3/4 cup "notch" (nutritional yeast).

About 3/4 cup vital gluten is the "glue" that binds the mixture.

Stir until it all holds together. You can add flour if it looks too wet.

Scoop out 1/2-cup portions onto a baking sheet and form into patties. You should have about a dozen. (Parke uses two baking sheets.)

Most recipes call for frying the patties, but Parke is happy to let a 400-degree oven do all the work. And, he claims, by using less oil, you can easily freeze them.

Bake for 45 minutes. Be sure to flip them halfway through so they get nice and crispy brown on both sides.

There are all kinds of variations.

Red peppers were in the original recipe, but Parke found them too watery, so he quit using them.

You can add chopped walnuts, which "adds a nice texture." Or substitute a can of black beans for the tofu -- be sure to process till smooth.

Try adding rolled oats, finely chopped kale, or onions.

Parke's been making these for 3 or 4 years. He says he eats one every day on a wholegrain bun with all the trimmings.

Can you really get too much of a good thing?