Years ago, when I started experimenting with vegetarian burgers, there were few soy products to substitute for ground beef. But that didn't stop me. I made spinach and feta burgers, portobello burgers and couscous burgers. I created burgers that people still ask me to prepare decades after I stopped making them as chef at the Unicorn Village in North Miami.
Those burgers contained everything the health food industry thought healthful, including lots of fresh vegetables, brown rice, cashews, tahini and soy sauce. I made hundreds of pounds of the burger mix in a huge kettle. After mixing the ingredients, chef Antoine had to stir them over a low flame for an hour, working the huge mass slowly and carefully with a wooden paddle.
Then came scooping and flattening each burger. This mix lasted a few days, and then the process began all over again.
After the burgers were made, we topped them with sauteed mushrooms and melted cheese and put them on whole-wheat buns with lettuce and tomato. These appealed to everyone the way great vegetarian food should.
Here is my version of the vegetarian burgers I used to make back then. Some food is timeless. I'm sure you will agree.
—By Chef Steve Petusevsky