As much as I love a juicy beef burger, I’ve become a little obsessed with creating veggie burgers that step in and satisfy without any meat.
Usual standby ingredients include nuts, seeds, lentils, mushrooms, tofu and, of course, the ubiquitous black bean. Often, I’m aiming for texture and heft and umami. If I’m honest, I’m looking for a swap to fool my palate into thinking I’ve just had meat. That’s not a bad goal, but today’s recipe goes a whole different direction. And that direction is cheese. Yep, I made a burger whose main ingredient is cheese, and my whole family rejoiced.
Part-skim ricotta cheese is the star of this tasty patty that looks almost like a turkey burger, but tastes more like an Italian-inspired fried cheese appetizer. Using part-skim ricotta removes much of the fat and calories of whole-milk ricotta while still keeping the cheese and yum factor in check.
Whole oats give the patty structure (and healthy fiber), and egg white quietly keeps the patty together so that it cooks up sturdier than many bean burgers. (Don’t let the sticky raw mixture fool you.)
Minced shallot and garlic, steam-sauteed in a little broth, add moisture and flavor. My family loved these patties topped with tomato slices and fresh basil, but feel free to go the ketchup and mustard route if you need to scratch the classic burger itch.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."