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I, like many, have been on the search for the perfect veggie burger. And to my mind, there is a difference between "burgers" derived from a combination of legumes, grains, and/or fungus (ex. tofu, tempeh, and seitan) and "burgers" that are recognizably and predominately vegetables. In other words, there are burgers that qualify as vegetarian, and then there are vegetable burgers. It doesn't mean that these other foods can't be part of the mix. But when you rely too heavily on them, it stops feeling like you are showcasing the vegetables.

The problem is the lack of "chew." You know, the satisfying gets-stuck-in-your-teeth-like-grizzle experience that's hard to replicate without meat--and even harder if you bar the usual meat substitutes. And then there is the related problem of veggie burgers always falling apart.

So can it be done? For instance, I've tried incorporating shredded potatoes and carrots into the mix, trying to create a kind of mesh, but no dice.

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Why would you want to eat a historically meat based item? The world is full of amazing vegetable based food. To me burgers represent all that is wrong with modern cuisine –  TFD Mar 28 '11 at 1:21
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@TFD: People like what they like, and when ex-omnivores become vegetarian, sometimes, they want to eat items they were fond of, burgers inclusive. I am vegan, I eat meat-substitute items all the time, no poor reflection on vegetables, just I liked meat, I don't eat it because I consider it wrong and environmentally detrimental, not because I dislike the taste. Can't see anything wrong with replicating the taste/texture, there is no moral problem there. –  Orbling Mar 28 '11 at 1:42
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I ate a riced cauliflower/egg/mozzarella cheese mix recently that had a very nice mouth-feel. I don't know if egg and cheese are options for you though. –  michael Mar 28 '11 at 1:43
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Globe artichokes can be quite meaty for a vegetable, as can sundried tomatoes. –  Orbling Mar 28 '11 at 1:43
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I've never tried it, so won't put this as an answer ... but dried mushrooms can still be chewy after rehydrating; I'd think they could give you what you're looking for. –  Joe Mar 28 '11 at 2:15
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4 Answers 4

This is tricky. The best vegetable patties I have ever made are based on India style recipes (Pakora, Bhajya, Pakoda etc)

Basically shards of vegetables bound with leavened pulse flour and deep fried

Change the spice mix to match the burger (cumin and pepper, no turmeric or aromatics)

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Agreed. Mushroom pakora can be quite meaty. One of the best vegetarian burgers I've ever had was simply a big field mushroom roasted with garlic butter. The butter was mopped with the bun, which was smeared with good mustard. Even for a confirmed carnivore like me it was fantastic. –  ElendilTheTall Mar 28 '11 at 11:34
    
Pakora and Pakoda are same things. –  TheIndependentAquarius Feb 16 '13 at 6:30
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Vegetables are mostly water. Water isn't chewy, protein is. What has a lot of protein in the vegetable world? Legumes, grains and fungi. Your "usual substitutes".

I feel like the requirements that you have laid out are self defeating.

Instead of not allowing the known chewy foods you should instead figure out how to use them for bulk and still showcase more flavorful vegetables.

I prefer white wheat that has been boiled until it bursts. Lots of texture but the flavor is easily overridden by whatever else is added.

As for a binder- the easiest is an egg if you don't need vegan. Otherwise you can use starch such as flour but you have to be gentle.

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no love for tilting at windmills, huh? I wonder what you would say to the suggestion @Orbling of sundried tomatoes or artichoke. Or, what I have been thinking of trying next, certain roasted root vegetables, which can be pleasantly tough if you ask me. –  Matt Broerman Mar 28 '11 at 22:00
    
@Matt - I actually responded to Orbling's comment above. I like the idea of using dehydrated veggies to toughen them up a bit. I was trying to think of vegetables that would work for. Obviously tomatoes, perhaps sliced squash. Just don't accept my answer and we'll be fine. :) –  Sobachatina Mar 29 '11 at 0:09
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My wife and I made these black bean burgers once and they were actually chewy enough that they resembled meat enough that she didn't want them again. (She hasn't eaten meat in over 20 years, so she's easily grossed out by texture like that. I'm a much more recent convert and I thought they were fantastic.)

If you don't want to follow that particular recipe, you could try mixing in the flax seeds and chickpea flour along with sun dried tomatoes. I felt like those were the ingredients that were most responsible for the texture, though I haven't had a chance to experiment with it since that first time.

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diced Carrots?

Whenever I make anything vegan, these are the chewiest bits.

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