Tofu Fills the Plate and Steals the Show

Ten days in the States, ten days of travel, ten days of living out of a suitcase, and ten days of anticipation of getting home to my hometown were then complete August 18th (can you tell how far behind I am right now?). No more living out of suitcases, but living out of dressers and falling asleep in comfortable beds and waking up to Earl Grey Tea, milk, and local honey. Cooking at home and daily yoga became realities. Family and friends were not a skype-call away, but rather, a good holler’s distance away.

Along with my overexcitement to get back into my running routine with a bestest of friends of mine, as well as sweat constantly in hot yoga, grab coffee at my favorite coffee shop, drink kombucha non-stop (given I had that spare change lying around), go to farmers markets three days out of the week, pick up CSA shares, see family daily, go to my favorite Mexican place in town… I was stoked to see everyone in one place: a barbeque at my place.

It’s almost a given that – granted the fact that your whole family is in town, your friends are there, produce is flowing like ambrosia in the heavens, you have a grill, and it’s a sunny day – I will have a barbeque in summer. A grill out. A cook out. A  good time outdoors where you cook food on your deck. Whatever you call it, barbeques rank up there with potlucks in my book. And a barbeque potluck? Well folks, that’s just crazy talk cause there’s nothing better.

Strolling into town on a Thursday, my family had set up having a cook out on Saturday. What was perfect about this were: the timing (I had enough time to settle and then go out and pick up groceries for my contribution to the event), and the weather (it was… 80 and sunny?).

On Friday my mom had mentioned that she had most everything covered. The burgers were coming from our meat CSA (award wining, I’ll have you know!), the salad from our produce CSA, Mac & Cheese from a delicious catering company (there were twenty people who responded – the catering was warranted), chicken by my brother (who used a great coffee-accented marinade), and the dessert was from my Grandma (Angel Food Cake worthy of it’s angelic name). That left me with almost nothing.

But fear not, trusty readers. Having just made it back to a place of comfort and almost restart, I had recently (maybe three days prior) decided to act on my feelings toward vegetarianism and was no longer eating meat. I know, I know – me, a food writer, and one who just shoveled Korean Barbeque down about two weeks prior, a vegetarian?! I have my reasons. One really strong one is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Book Eating Animals. I have others, but trust that I am in no way dogmatic about it. In fact, I had a piece of free fried chicken a few days ago.

But with this new bit of information, I took to making my own Veggie Burgers, and grilled peaches for fun. Popping around on the internet through other food blogs (like Smitten Kitchen, 101cookbooks, The Post Punk Kitchen, Joy The Baker, to name a few) and through the pages of my trusty cookbooks, I found one that I was destined to adapt.

101cookbooks’ site has been one of my favorites, so I hopped on there to find a good, whole-food, and simple recipe. What came up? Ultimate Veggie Burger Recipe. Spouts, garbanzo beans, bread crumbs – it was going to happen.

Making them a bit before hand, so that the flavors could meld and marinate, the burgers took a test-run on a skillet inside. But that just wouldn’t do, for a barbeque. It also turned out to be not the place for these little guys. They were destined for the big leagues of a Weber charcoal grill!

Packed, grilled, tended to, and plated, these guys and dolls turned out to be the main event.  “Who wants a tofu burger?”

“Me…” “Me…” “Can I have one too?” “Oh I’d like to try it” “That sounds good” “Maybe just a half” “Are there any more?”

The answer, after about twelve or fifteen burgers, was “no.” Theses burgers went quicker than the CSA meat and chicken and Mac & Cheese.

Maybe it was because they were crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, packed with protein, and flavor. Smoked Paprika danced with the lemon and cilantro. Sprouts gave a crunch against the smooth tofu and hummus-style garbanzo beans. A nice tomato or slice of avocado sat beautifully between patty and bun. Delicious.

Afterwards, the ATV inevitably came out, and my nephew got to enjoy the need for speed, all in the safety of loving arms.

Grab ‘em Quick Tofu Burgers (adapted from 101cookbooks)

2 ½ cups canned garbanzos – drain them well
2 large eggs — optional (There is a very strong possibility of making this completely vegan by not doing the eggs — the tofu works just as well. I’m pretty sure I did the vegan way, but an egg or two could do some good)

½ – ¾ package of Tofu (I used firm, but any will do, from what I could tell)

Pinch of coarse salt
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1 onion, chopped – I used red onion
Grated lemon zest (or any citrus, really, will do)
1 cup sprouts (I used red raddish and fenugreek)
1-1 ¼ cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs – take a loaf of old break, break it up, and toast at 350 for about 15-25 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor, starting with the garbanzos and eggs, adding each one at a time. Move to a big bowl, and add the sprouts. Then bread crumbs, and finally the oil. If you need more oil, that’s okay. Add it.

Let this sit for about 20-30 minutes to let the bread crumbs absorb some of the moisture so that these bad boys hold up on the grill.

Continue from here as if it were meat: pack them into patties, and grill on each side. The cooking time was super unclear for me because the charcoal started dying as soon as I put the first burger on the grill. But, I would say 7-10 minutes on each time. These burgers wont dry out (really) so don’t worry about that. Grill them until you can say that the inside is no longer doughy.

Serve it up with tomato, lettuce, avocado, pickled onions, whatever pleases your taste buds. Enjoy.

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5 thoughts on “Tofu Fills the Plate and Steals the Show

  1. I would be happy to eat your Tofu Burgers any time you are in town. I am getting tired of chicken and really enjoyed the burgers. Grandma

  2. I love veggie burgers and I frequently make them inside on the skillet (horrors, I know). They’re pretty fragile, though, so I’m impressed that yours survived on the grill. Nice story, my friend, and I’m so glad you’re happy being at home.

    As always, much love from Sweden.

  3. Twas tasty indeed. Loved the burgers to say the least. In fact the
    chicken and grilled peaches were a big hit as well. Fun time. And then like a flash….swoosh, he’s off again into the country… stopping for a sec. for a few holes of golf and lunch with Poppop and Grandma. What an itch.

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