Who Cooked It Better? Veggie Burger Battle Royale

Last week’s Who Cooked It Better aroused quite the display of passion in you folks, finally giving America’s pissed-off vegans a chance to vent their frustrations against that scourge of vegans everywhere, Anthony Bourdain. This was Endless Simmer’s most popular poll to date, and with 800 of you weighing in, Hezbollah Tofu crushed Anthony Bourdain, 83 to 17 percent. Many congrats to HT on a truly winning original recipe.

In a shameless ploy to hold on to our newly expanded vegan readership base, we’re continuing with the “hold the bacon” theme for this week’s Who Cooked It Better, a search for the ultimate veggie burger. But before you meat-lovers tune out, let’s remember that grillin’ season is just around the corner, and if you expect to keep your veggie friends around for the summer, you better have a good faux-burger recipe. And don’t say, “Oh, I already know about Boca Burgers,” because when your vegan friends respond “that’s so considerate of you to think of me,” what they really mean is “Great. I can’t wait to eat this same store-bought patty every weekend for the rest of the summer. By the way, I’m a vegan and this has cheese in it.”

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Seeing as how veggie burgers are kind of an anti-establishment thing anyway, we decided to go all-blogger for this challenge. Our first cheftestant is Swell Vegan, whose tasty-looking seitan burger (top left) is accented with chopped sesame seeds, red pepper and carrots. In a twist that could have you choosing this over steak at your next BBQ, Swell Vegan mixes chimichurri sauce into the veggie patty, and tops it off with more of this savory green stuff, along with tomato, onion, and tofutti cheese. SV says the recipe is still a work in progress, but this one already looks like a winner.

Moving to the top right, Eat Air is hoping to take down yet another meat-worshiping TV star with their veganized version of Paula Deen’s Big Mike Burger. The Big V replaces Paula’s butter burger/pecan burger double patty with an amped up seitan burger that includes shittake mushrooms and vegan cheese, along with a tempeh-pecan patty complete with maple syrup and liquid smoke (!) Complete directions here.

On the bottom right corner is a beautiful pic from 101 Cookbooks, whose use of eggs may turn off you vegan voters, but these garbanzo bean-cilantro-sprout burgers are so tasty looking we had to include them. Most originally, 101 C loses the bread buns altogether and uses her two patties as the buns, filling the inside with avocado slices, cipollini onions, and more. Full recipe over at 101 Cookbooks.

In the bottom-left corner is a great-looking burger from The Accidental Vegetarian, which looks most like a real burger of anything we could find, even though instead of fake meat, the AV goes for a mix of eggplant, zucchini, onion and garlic, kicked up a notch with an inventive almond paste concoction. Full recipe here.

Your votes and thoughts please…

[poll id=”9″]

ps – did we miss any of the best? Let us know!

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  • gansie April 15, 2008  

    okay, before i vote, i need someone to really explain *seitan* to me. wiki isnt doing it for me.

  • BS April 15, 2008  

    I’m gonna field that one to Alex

  • aubade April 15, 2008  

    I don’t think any veggie burger contest is complete without a Joni burger: http://www.justthefood.blogspot.com/
    She is the queen of vegan burgers!

  • Chris April 15, 2008  

    Basic seitan is made by making a dough from wheat flour and water, then kneading it and washing it until the starch is gone and all that’s left is the protein packed, chewy gluten. It’s then boiled in a flavorful broth. (Alternatively, you can buy “vital wheat gluten” at most natural food stores, which is kind of like flour but contains only the gluten. Starting with this saves the time consuming process of kneading and washing).

    There are endless ways to season and cook seitan. Herbs, spices, etc. can be added to the “dough” described above and/or it can be cooked in a seasoned broth. It can be cooked by baking or steaming as well and seitan recipes abound in recent vegan cookbooks, and on blogs and forums on-line.

    Or you can just buy it pre-made in a natural food store, usually near where you find tofu.

  • BS April 15, 2008  

    aubade – I saw just the food – her endless varieties of burgers are truly amazing – unfortunately, she doesn’t include most of her recipes on the site

  • gansie April 15, 2008  

    thanks, chris.

    although i’m anti the no-bread thing, i went with 101 cookbooks b/c of her usage of chickpeas and avocado.

    will have to futher investigate seitan. does anyone know of a good store-bought version?

  • Maidelitala April 15, 2008  

    My very favorite veggie burger in town is the one at Bus Boys & Poets: Tandoori Veggie Burger, with tomato, sprouts and avocado (hold the sprouts, I don’t like things that taste like hair on my food)… The burger is frackin amazing. I think might have some garbanzo beans in it… at any rate in a word it’s ab-fabuloso

  • MissGinsu April 15, 2008  

    I think the Shake Shake just kind of plunks down a big ‘old portabella mushroom on the grill, then puts the result on a bun with all the toppings.That does the trick for me. But among these contestants, I’d go with the Accidental Vegetarian burger.

  • JoeHoya April 15, 2008  

    I voted for the chimichurri burger (which actually has me thinking about using that sauce on a REAL burger), but I have a hard time imagining myself opting for any of these over the original.

  • Alex April 15, 2008  

    Actually the Shake Shack takes 2 portobellos, grills them I think, puts their bottoms together so it makes sort of a hollow portobello ball, puts some kind of delicious cheese in the middle and then FREAKIN DEEP FRIES THE WHOLE THING. OMG CAN YOU SAY AMAZING??? And it’s on challah, of course.

    Re: seitan, I’ll tell you what it is, and that’s awesome. It’s the stuff you’ve had in fake chicken or fake beef if you’ve ever had really good fake chicken or beef. But it’s also really good just marinated and grilled in anything.

  • Jessica April 15, 2008  

    The 101 Cookbooks burger is quite good and relatively easy to veganize if you’re so inclined, but I’m voting for the Eat Air burger because veganizing Paula Dean is just redonkulous.

  • Heza April 16, 2008  

    This was hard, they all look damn good! I voted for Accidental Vegetarian, although I would replace the eggs. Swell Vegan’s burger looks awesome too.

  • MissGinsu April 16, 2008  

    Alex: I stand corrected on the construction of the Shack portabella burger. Or, more accurately, I stand in line for a frickin’ lifetime waiting to acquire said burger and then, blind with hunger, staggering away from the pickup counter, I find myself rattled and incapable of recording the details of the item.

  • Eccentric Vegan April 17, 2008  

    “i need someone to really explain *seitan* to me”


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