One of my favorite cooking experiments is to take a pretty simple/standard (boring) base, and dress it up with a bunch of different ingredients to make it feel fancy, gourmet and restaurant-quality! Last night, my husband and I were craving veggie burgers from our FAVORITE burger place in the Bay Area: Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers.
The unfortunate thing is, we don’t get to go to Barney’s often because it’s a pretty decent drive away from our house. So, I decided to bring Barney’s to us by “dressing up” the standard veggie burgers we buy: Gardenburgers. I actually LOVE Gardenburgers because they have a few different varieties – all with really wholesome and natural ingredients, and they have great nutritional stats: each patty is 100 calories and has 5g fiber and 5g protein. They also provide a great “base” for transforming the homemade veggie burger into something gourmet and delicious – in less than 30 min (which is the best part)!
So last night, I made two of the five versions I’m going to outline in this post – but while I was making them came up with three more ideas I thought I’d share with all of you! I’m going to combine the ingredients/directions in this post because it’s really standard to make (cook the veggie burger patty on the stove, toast the buns, and top with ingredients). It’s really about the variety you can get with these few basic ingredients.
Ingredients I used for my two versions (three additional versions at the bottom of this post)
Burger #1: The Sports Bar Burger: This is the burger I made for my husband.
Ingredients you’ll need: Whole Wheat Burger Buns, Gardenburger patties (original), grilled red onions, jack cheese (or pepperjack is ok too), Barbecue Sauce, Sliced Tomatoes, Baby Spinach or Romaine lettuce (optional)
Grill the burgers over medium heat with some cooking spray
While the burgers are cooking, grill the sliced red onions on medium to medium-low heat with 1 tsp EVOO
Once the patties are done, melt the jack cheese over the patty and the bottom burger bun in the toaster oven
Once the cheese is melted, pull the burger out of the oven and top with grilled onions
Then top with sliced tomatoes and baby spinach or lettuce (the spinach/lettuce is optional)
Spread 1-2 Tbsp of the BBQ Sauce on the other half of the bun, and finish your veggie burger. Enjoy!
Now, onto Burger #2: The Spa Burger: This is the burger I made for myself 🙂
Ingredients you’ll need: Sprouted wheat bread or sprouted wheat burger buns, Gardenburger patty (original), 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Cheese (original/creamy swiss flavor), Sliced red onions, Sliced tomatoes, Baby spinach, Sprouts (I didn’t have these but I think they would taste really good in the burger), Organic Ketchup (optional), Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
Directions are the same as above: Cook the patty according to the package directions – on the stove with cooking spray, Spread 1 wedge laughing cow cheese on on slice of the sprouted wheat bread/bun, top with burger patty, top with red onions, tomatoes, spinach, sprouts, salt & pepper to taste. Serve with Ketchup if you like!
Here it is: the finished Spa Burger
It was sooo tasty, light and delicious! My husband also loved his version – he said it tasted exactly like Barney’s which was a HUGE compliment 🙂 Now – for the fun part. Three other veggie burger variations, with the same base (whole wheat buns, Gardenburger original patty).
Burger #3: The Fiesta Burger: You’ll need — Whole wheat burger buns, Gardenburger original patty, guacamole or sliced avocado, pico de gallo, shredded jack or cheddar cheese, sliced red onions, baby spinach or romaine (shredded). Melt the cheese on the patty while you’re cooking it and top with the rest of the ingredients.
Burger #4: The Mediterranean Burger: You’ll need — Whole wheat burger buns (or you can even use whole wheat pita!), Gardenburger original patty, low fat or fat free feta cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, diced red onions, and hummus (or tahini). Spread the hummus on the burger buns, top with patty, feta and rest of the ingredients.
Burger #5: The Grilled Veggie Pesto Burger: You’ll need — Sprouted wheat burger buns (or regular whole wheat is fine), Gardenburger original patty, 1-2 Tbsp Pesto, swiss cheese, grilled zucchini, grilled red onions, sauteed mushrooms, grilled peppers –You can basically use any combination of grilled veggies that you like. Spread the pesto on the buns, melt the swiss cheese over the patty, and top with grilled veggies.
I can’t wait to try these versions next week – if it goes well we might make one night each week “burger night” as long as I can keep inventing different varieties! What’s your favorite burger & toppings combination?