I have been singing the praises of Didi Emmons’ Entertaining for a Veggie Planet: 250 Down-to-Earth Recipes since I started this blog and several weeks ago decided that I *must* have a copy of her older cookbook Vegetarian Planet. I had been warned that its recipes tend to have a lot more ingredients than Entertaining for a Veggie Planet which is most definitely true. But a lot of the recipes look really interesting and with a package of tofu that longed for a more fate than being tossed in just another stir-fry, I decided to try these tofu and pumpkin seed burgers.
The first thing I should say is that these should only be served to people who really, really like healthy, vegetarian food. You’re not going to fool meat-lovers with these little patties. Unlike most of Didi Emmons’ recipes I’ve tried, this one quite clearly fits the slightly negative image of vegetarian food as being tree-hugging, multi-grain, granola-crunching fare. Which is not to say that the burgers didn’t taste good. In fact the addition of ginger was quite interesting and lovely. But overall, I was disappointed with them. Not only would I feel a little uncomfortable pushing them upon anyone beyond my immediate family, but the texture just wasn’t quite right. I managed to make them into patties without too much trouble, but pan-frying them gently was almost more than they could take and several of them started falling to pieces. I think including an egg in the mix might help them stick together a bit more, were I to do it again. But I don’t imagine that I’ll be trying these again soon. Though I liked them enough, there are packaged veggie burgers that I like better and there are so many other recipes out there that I’d rather spend my time making.
Tofu and pumpkin seed burgers (makes 6-8 burgers)
4 slices stale or toasted sandwich bread
1 1/2 cups cooked, drained, and rinsed adzuki or black beans (canned is fine)
1/3 cup hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds, toasted 6 to 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven
1 16-oz package of firm tofu
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp miso paste (brown-rice miso is best)
3/4 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
fresh-ground pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp of canola or corn oil
1. Chop the bread fine or whirl it to crumbs in a food processor. In a food processor or with a potato masher, coarsely chop or mash the beans. Coarsely chop the toasted pumpkin seeds. Combine the beans, bread crumbs, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.
2. Cut the tofu into 4 pieces, and squeeze each piece with your hand, letting the crumbled tofu fall into the bowl of mashed beans. Toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet over low heat, stirring, until they become fragrant. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, miso, and onion to the bowl with the beans and tofu. Mix everything (this will be easiest to do with your hands). Mix in the salt and pepper. The mixture should be stiff enough to form a patty. Ifthe mixture still seems a bit wet, add more bread crumbs. Form the mixture into patties.
3. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast-iron (non-stick skillets don’t yield as crispy a crust), over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and place as many burgers in the pan as you can without crowding them. Pan-fry the burgers, in batches, if necessary, until the undersides are a deep golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the burgers, and cook them about 3-4 minutes more. Serve the burgers right away.