“We all need to make time for a burger once in a while” – Erica Durance

 Fall Harvest Burger
                                                              Fall Harvest Burger

When I make a meal, there are several ways I measure its successfulness. If the little girls eat it, it must be tasty but not too spicy.  If I still want to eat a serving after prepping and chopping and cooking and seasoning it for an hour or so, than it must be pretty good.  If the boys eat it and go back for second…  it means absolutely nothing. Seriously, these teenage boys would eat sautéed cardboard if I offered it to them.  Chris, he is almost as bad. He comes home from a long day at work starving, announcing “Steffie! I’m hungry! I haven’t eaten since lunch…”  The only way I measure successful cooking attempts when it comes to this crew is to look at how the leftovers are handled; Are they claimed instantly for lunch tomorrow?  Are they packed away in tomorrow’s lunch box before heading up to bed? Or do they disappear in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is sleeping?  It seriously holds a lot of merit to me when an 18 year old boy packs up my vegan meal in his Captain America lunchbox and brings it to school. Yesterday I made twelve harvest burgers.  Six people eventually made their way to my kitchen to eat dinner.  Three burgers made it to see the inside of a ziplock back last night.  When I got up this morning they were all gone, and so was the Captain America lunchbox.

Chris could eat a burger twice a week.  He thinks that the endless vegan burger varieties are worthy of at least one email link to me a day, usually more.  Because they are always so well received by my crowd and because I like to make Chris feel like he is contributing to the menu ideas, I like to make time to create burgers once in a while.

So many restaurants’ idea of the vegetarian option rest on the veggie black bean burger, and I have certainly had my fill of those this year.  In my own cooking I have found that if you put even one black bean in a recipe, it really becomes a “Black Bean” thing, not a good choice for a subtle protein source unless you are going for Tex-Mex.  Too many chickpeas and it becomes more of a falafel than a burger.  I’ve had good success with lentils, quinoa, cannellini and pinto beans as protein bases.  Foraging through my pantry again yesterday, I was left with about a cup of pinto beans from my seitan sausage recipe that needed to find a home in a recipe, three parsnips, and a container of white mushrooms that could not wait one more day to be used!  On the counter was two day old stale baguette remnants from Monday’s French Onion soup.  The soup is long gone so this bread clearly needed to be repurposed.  Inspired by Isa’s Thanksgiving Burger recipe that I stumbled across yesterday, I decided to create a Harvest Burger that was delicious, nutritious, and most importantly, cleared out my refrigerator.

Harvest Burger

Preheat oven to 400

  • 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed oil (or any neutral cooking oil)
  • small yellow onion diced fine
  • 3 parsnips peeled and diced
  • 8 oz of white mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups chopped baguettes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (for this I like Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No Chicken Base)


Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.  Cook the onions over medium heat until translucent.  Add the garlic, mushrooms and parsnip until the mushrooms release most of their moisture and parsnip and mushrooms are soft.  Add the black pepper, sage, and thyme and stir.   Add the baguette chunks and let them soak up any remaining liquid before adding the broth. Simmer until most of the moisture is reduced and the remaining ingredients resemble wet stuffing.


Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse

  • 1/2 cup hazel nuts
  • 1 cup brown lentils (cooked or from a can)
  • 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (as a binder)

Add the wet stuffing mixture to the processor and pulse enough times that the mixture holds together but texture still remains.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup roasted pepitas



Refrigerated the “meat” for about 20 minutes while prepping the baked onion rings and steak potatoes side dish.

Once chilled, using an ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into twelve servings on a sheet plan lined with parchment paper.  Using the bottom of a drinking glass sprayed down with some olive oil, gentle press the mixture into burgers.


Lightly spray the tops with oil and finish with a dusting of salt and pepper before placing in the oven (preheated at 400).  Cook for twenty minutes, gentle flipping burgers at about fifteen minutes.


Baked Onion Ring Toppers

These sweet baked onion rings taste great as a side instead of potatoes.  To make enough to satisfy our large family though, they take up a ton of oven space. Instead, I frequently make a small batch and use them as sandwich or burger toppers.

  • 2 vidalia onions sliced in 1/2 inch rings
  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Prep your area.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set up three shallow bowls; one with nondairy milk and lemon juice, the second with cornstarch, and the third with panko, sage, thyme, and salt.

Dip each sliced onion ring first into the milk, second the cornstarch, back to the milk, and lastly coat with the panko spice mixture.  Repeat and fill your baking sheet with a single layer of non overlapping onion rings.


Bake the Onion Rings for approximately 15 minutes, removing when they are brown.


Oven Roasted Steak Fries

I love starch.  This is a staple in our house.  A bag of russet potatoes is always on my counter and a go to for a side dish.  That is one of the great things about cooking vegan, since my main dish is typically vegetable filled, I don’t feel quite as bad throwing starchy sides at my hungry family (all in moderation of course).

  • Slice up the russet potatoes with skins still on.
  • par boil them for about 5 minutes
  • toss them with a mixture of cornstarch, olive oil, salt, and pepper until lightly coated
  • spread in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet


  • Roast for about 30 minutes in at 400 degrees until golden brown


And finally, the assembly time.  Stack up the burger and onion rings on a toasted roll.  Add a bit of vegan mayo (like Vegenaise or Just Mayo).  Top with a fresh green (I chose baby arugula).


The girls devoured their burger.  I ate one and enjoyed it thoroughly.  The boys ate it like it was the best cardboard they had ever been served. Leftovers became history by 6 am this morning. And, probably most importantly, Chris thinks he contributed to the running of the household by suggesting burgers.  Clearly this is a winning recipe.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Chris Kager says:

    Burgers! Love them.


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