Cookout and Veg Out

Barbecuing isn’t limited to carnivores any more. Vegetables are finding more room on the grill and starting to become featured parts of meals rather than uninspired side dishes. Don’t miss out on the flavors that grilling adds to food just because you are vegetarian. Even if you are a meat lover, these alternative burgers will delight your taste buds and earn a place in your barbecue lineup. Veggie burgers have grown in popularity in recent years and greatly evolved from the flavorless frozen patties that have shied many cooks away. This summer, take what you learned at your culinary academy and get creative mixing up veggie patties and throwing them on the grill for your next cookout.

For a great burger patty with a unique and mouthwatering flavor, you will want to use a variety of ingredients to build it. While assembling your shopping list, you’ll want to keep three things in mind for making a superb veggie patty: protein, structure and flavor.

Start your burger with protein
The core ingredients of your veggie patty will be proteins. Beans, lentils, chickpeas or legumes make a great nutritional base for your patty because they are high in protein and mash well into a paste. To make sure the patty retains a texture similar to ground beef, avoid pureeing the beans or mashing them too finely. Using a protein for the patty base is important, especially for vegetarians and vegans, because rich protein sources are harder to come by without meat in their diets.

Provide structure with foods to bind the ingredients together
Once you’ve decided on the base ingredients for your burger, you will want to add in foods that will help to bind them all together. Bread crumbs, rice or quinoa work well to form the stickiness needed to help the patties retain their structure while sizzling on the grill. Quinoa, as any student of an online culinary school know, is a great ingredient for veggie burgers because it can serve two purposes: adding protein and structuring the patty.

Pack the patty full of flavor
While beans provide an excellent source of protein, they can be a little bland on their own. Once you have the basic patty made, you can start thinking of other vegetables you want to mix in to enhance the flavor profile of the burger. In addition to adding veggies, don’t be afraid to play with spices you learned about in online cooking courses or include your favorite sauce. If you’re having trouble deciding what flavors to include in your patty, try and think of a theme and stick to it – such as a southwest-style burger or a sandwich with an Asian flair.

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