I say "vegan." If you're the typical Triangle resident, your mind leaps to "Raw. Kale. Tofu. Salad."
Fuhgeddaboudit! The nonprofit Veganuary campaign (think "vegan in January") offers recipes that'll make you shout, "Flavorful. Beefy. Delicious."
Launched in the United Kingdom two years ago, the now worldwide campaign suggests that everyone avoid food derived from animals during the first month of the year. While carnivores in Raleigh or Durham may not go beef-free for a full 31 days, they can still sample a whole new world of taste, feel better and tread more lightly on the earth.
People in 115 countries pledged to try vegan last January. The final tally from the organization: 71 percent of participants felt an improvement in their health in just one month and 65 percent learned something about animal agriculture. Best of all, the group says, Veganuary 2015 saved the lives of more than 1.5 million critters.
People make the veganism pledge for numerous reasons:
- Many combine Veganuary with their New Year's resolutions, seeing plant-based eating as a healthy start to the year.
- Some people want to feel better about the impact they make on the world. Going vegan can halve your greenhouse gas emissions, the organization says.
- For most, a love of animals is the catalyst for this way of dining. They're concerned about the journey that livestock make from farm to fridge.
- Others simply like setting a challenge for themselves. And if they discover exciting and tasty food...all the better!
To support those who get on board, Veganuary.com offers meal plans, restaurant and shopping guides, health tips, nutrition facts and testimonials.
Perhaps most importantly, it supplies recipes from chefs across the globe for snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner, including the following for juicy, hearty and meat-free burgers. Yes, even the All-American burger can be "veganized"!
Sweet Potato Burgers
Carolyin Scott Hamilton
With more than a day's worth of vitamin A, the sweet potato is an entirely different vegetable from a potato. Sweet potatoes work in everyday cooking because they're so versatile; you can prepare them baked, mashed, steamed, pureed, roasted and even grilled. Plus, they can be enjoyed in recipes both sweet and savory – like these sweet potato burgers!
2 cups coarsely mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large sweet potatoes)
1 cup organic refried black beans
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour (or all-purpose gluten free)
1 vegan egg, already mixed/prepared (egg replacer or tablespoon ground flax or chia mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water)*
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil, for cooking
*Note: There are plenty of egg substitutes available for baking or preparing a dish that calls for eggs. The Neategg and Ener-G Egg Replacer are reliable substitutes that can be used in baking. They're available at health-food stores and some grocery stores.
3 bulbs roasted garlic*
3/4 cup plain vegan mayo
2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
*Note: Slather garlic in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
2 avocados, sliced
8-10 burger buns
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and place on a paper towel, setting in the microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove, slice in half and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh.
In a large bowl, coarsely mash beans with a fork. Add in sweet potato and mash together, then add spices, salt and pepper, minced garlic, vegan egg, bread crumbs and flour. Mix together until combined, then place bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Remove mixture from fridge and form into 8-10 patties, then place in the skillet once hot. Since the mixture can be wet and messy, do not move until they are fully cooked and golden on one side. This takes about 3-5 minutes on each side. Then, add more oil if needed and flip burgers very gently. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Toast buns if desired.
Assemble by topping burgers with roasted garlic aioli and toppings!
To make aioli: While burger mixture is chilling, combine aioli ingredients in a bowl until smooth, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Grilled Lentil Burgers
These burgers are packed with the dense texture of a traditional burger. Plus, they're glowing with fiber, protein and gusto!
1 cup brown lentils (rinsed and cooked in filtered water until soft for 25 minutes)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot finely grated
2 stalks celery finely diced
1 heaping teaspoon sweet dried marjoram
1 heaping teaspoon dried ginger powder
2 tablespoons shoyu or tamari (natural soy sauce)
3 to 4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
Preheat the grill to medium/hot. Mix all the ingredients* together in a large bowl. Add the flour and fold until you achieve a consistency that glues the ingredients together, adding a little more flour if required.
Using your hands, make the burgers with two tablespoons of the mixture. Place the burgers on a foil-lined grill tray and grill for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Alternatively, fry the burgers in a heavy based frying pan and use organic sunflower oil.
Serve with toasted sourdough bread spread with vegan mayonnaise. Top with your favorite chutney, sliced avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and fresh greens.
*Note: If you enjoy a smoked taste, add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the mixture.
The Really Hungry Burger
This hearty, health-packed wonder makes no apology to anyone. I've played around with a lot of recipes before settling on this one, some full of bright herb freshness and grated veg, some packed with protein-rich tofu. All were good, but what I look for in a burger is a deep, complex flavor, so this is the one.
I use brown rice here, but any cooked grain you have will do – quinoa, pearl barley and farro all work well.
6 big portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped into little bits
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 15-ounce can of white beans, haricot or cannellini, well drained
4 dates, pitted
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
8 ounces cooked and cooled brown rice
2 ounces breadcrumbs or oats
Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1–2 avocados, peeled and sliced
Tomato relish or ketchup
A few handfuls of spinach leaves
8 seeded burger buns
Get a large pan on a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Fry on a good heat until the mushrooms have dried out and are slightly browned, then set to one side and leave to cool.
Next, drain the white beans and put them into a food processor with the dates, garlic, parsley, tahini and soy sauce. Pulse until you have a smooth-ish mixture, then transfer to a bowl and add the rice, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and the cooled mushrooms. Mix well, then put into the fridge for 10 minutes or so to firm up.
Once cooled, divide the mixture into 8 portions and shape into 8 patties. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and pop into the fridge until needed. (This can be done the day before – and the burgers freeze well at this point.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the burgers for 15 minutes, until nicely brown. If you like cheese on top, pop a slice on each a few minutes before taking out of the oven.
While your burgers are cooking, get your toppings ready. I go with avocado, tomato relish and the quick cucumber pickle (note below) plus a few spinach leaves. Hummus, grated carrot and sprouts is another favorite combination, but feel free to improvise and try it your own way.
*Note: I like to make a quick pickled cucumber with which to top these. Thinly slice a quarter of a cucumber and pop it into a bowl with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of agave syrup, and a good tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Then, scrunch together and leave to sit while you make your burgers. This homemade pickle beats a gherkin any day.
Veronika Sophia Robinson
These are scrumptious - enjoy!
4 egg replacers
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup polenta
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs
1-2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups mashed butternut squash, cooled
2 cups cooked quinoa
Olive or coconut oil
Mix egg replacer with a few tablespoons of water.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the onion until clear, then add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.
Add egg replacer, polenta and seasonings.
Remove from heat. Add quinoa and butternut.
Form into burgers with your hands, and put on a plate and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Don't skip the chilling process.
Cook the burgers on medium heat, and turn over once a crust has been formed. This takes about five minutes.
Serve with salad or steamed vegetables.
Chickpea, Potato and Quinoa Burgers
This recipe is for quite a sizeable batch (around 6-8, maybe even 10 burgers, depending on how big you like them), but they can easily be frozen.
1 small red (or other type) onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 chilies, chopped (optional)
1 can chickpeas, washed and drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
3-4 teaspoons of spices, such as turmeric, cumin and garam masala
2 large potatoes, boiled & mashed
1/2 cup of quinoa
1 cup of water
Gram (chickpea) flour (or ordinary flour)
Sauté the onions, chillies and garlic in 1-2 tablespoons of the oil.
Add 3 teaspoons of the spices to the mixture and mix well.
Add the chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder.
Allow the mixture to simmer for a while until the chickpeas have softened enough to eat. Then remove from the heat.
In the meantime, cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or flat-bottomed pan with the 1 cup of water, remaining vegetable stock and spices.
Once all the ingredients are cooled, add them to a food processor and blend. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your food processor. If you do, try to make sure there's an equal amount of each ingredient in each batch.
Once the mixture has blended, add the flour, a tablespoon at a time and mix. Keep going until you reach a consistency that is still fairly moist but firm enough that it will hold its shape when shaped and handled gently.
With some of the flour in a bowl, begin making the mixture into balls and coating them in the flour before squashing them into burger patty shapes. How big is up to you – judge it based on the size you want.
Heat up about 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a wok. To test if the temperature is right, drop a small amount of mixture into the pan. If it bubbles, the pan is ready for the burgers.
Cook the burgers for 5-10 minutes, until a lovely golden brown color. Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Serve in burger buns with whatever garnish you like. Mmmmm!