Life at Relish: Relishing the Burger: A Vegetarian Cooking Story


I’m a food nerd. I read food magazines, follow food bloggers and listen to cooking podcasts. Cooking, exploring interesting ingredients and exploring new techniques fascinates me. I’m also mostly a vegetarian. So, it should come as no surprise that when I started hearing about Beyond Meat about a year ago, I was fascinated.

Beyond Meat’s founders talk about creating “the future of protein” by essentially reverse-engineering the components of meat using plant components. The result is a burger that has no antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, gluten, or soy – plus comparable protein and calories, and somehow more iron than a beef burger.

I had to try it.

I toasted some whole wheat buns and heated up my favorite cast iron pan with sunflower oil to make some fresh potato chips. While they were cooking, I rinsed a little fresh arugula and sliced up some tomato, onion and avocado. I pulled a few pickle slices from the jar made from my surplus of cucumbers earlier in the summer and brought out the mustard and mayo. Then, when the chips were done, I reached into the package for the burgers.

They looked a lot like meat – maybe a little pinker than expected, which I understand comes from beets. The patties felt a lot like ground beef, too. Not identical, but pretty close.

Into the pan they went. My husband, Joel, and I both agreed that they smelled delicious while they were sizzling. Just before they were done, we topped them with some raw-milk cheddar.

The whole thing looked tasty, don’t you think?

I should point out that unlike me, Joel is a total omnivore. So, even as I was reaching back in my memory for the taste of a “real” hamburger, I was interested in the impressions of someone with a much more immediate and detailed idea of how these burgers “should” taste.

The verdict? Pretty darned good.

They were chewy, juicy and very flavorful. In fact, if I have to criticize these burgers, I’d say that they’ve got maybe a bit too much umami and salt. But only a bit. Joel thought that while they weren’t a perfect imitation of a beef burger, they were very close. In fact, we both wanted to make them again and see what people might think of them if they didn’t suspect that the burgers were actually vegan.

The truth is that I actually like most black bean, lentil and other veggie burgers specifically because they don’t pretend to be meat-like. They’re veggie burgers with their own flavor and texture, and that’s just fine.

But, I’ll be making these again.


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