The meatless burger movement is having a moment.
Barely two years ago, Tampa Bay's Ciccio Restaurant Group made news for becoming the first Florida partner for the Impossible Burger, a plant-based patty whose resemblance to meat is uncanny.
And now, the meatlike burgers (and a similar version from the Beyond Meat brand) are the vegan burger of choice at restaurants throughout the Tampa Bay area. Even if they're not always listed on the menu, many places carry them as a meat alternative.
In April, a fast food giant pushed the meatless burger conversation further: Burger King is introducing an Impossible Whopper in some cities this summer, with the goal of adding the burger to menus across the country by the end of the year.
And those wanting to cook meatless burgers in their own kitchen can now purchase Beyond Burger patties at Publix, four to a pack, raw and unadorned, just like ground beef. (They're even sold by the beef burgers, not with the other vegan products.)
For this Memorial Day weekend, we're leaning into the trend and offering suggestions for how to make the patriotic holiday meat-free, with a list of worthy vegan burgers in Tampa Bay and recipes you can make at home.
Southwest Beyond Burger
For the caramelized poblanos and onions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, finely sliced
2 poblano peppers, finely sliced
½ cup water
For the burgers:
4 Beyond Burger patties
4 burger buns
1 cup Grilled Guacamole (see recipe on this page)
1 cup pico de gallo, optional
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and poblano and saute for 15 minutes until they start to caramelize. Reduce the heat to medium and add a few tablespoons of water. Continue to caramelize for a total of 45 minutes until deeply brown but not burnt. Season with salt and set aside.
Cook the Beyond Burger patties according to the package directions.
Place buns on a plate and add the lettuce leaves to the bottom of the bun. Top the lettuce leaf with the Beyond Burger. Top the burger with guacamole and caramelized onions and poblanos. Add some pico de gallo on top. Top the burger with the bun. Serve immediately.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ small red onion, diced
½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked hot paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne powder, optional
½ teaspoon salt
Coconut oil or canola oil
8 whole wheat hamburger buns, optional
Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the burgers: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander, then combine with ⅔ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then drain off any excess water and set aside to cool.
Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and quinoa, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle or paprika, cayenne (optional, add to taste for spicier burgers) and salt. Use a potato masher, big mixing spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well.
Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If possible, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results. (The patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first.)
Use a measuring cup to measure out ½ cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8. If you would like to toast your hamburger buns, preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.
If toasting the buns, place on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Source: Adapted from cookieandkate.com.
Vegan Mushroom Burgers
6 pretzel buns, or other bun of your choice
¼ cup mango chutney, optional
1 pound fresh button mushrooms
1 red onion
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh dill
¼ teaspoon salt
Canola oil for brushing the tops
1 cup arugula
Prepare the pretzel buns and mango chutney.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Clean the mushrooms and cut them in half. Cook them in a pan without oil on medium to high heat until they are soft. Set aside and let them cool off a bit.
Peel and cut the red onion in rings. Slowly caramelize the red onion in a pan while adding bits of water when it starts to stick to the pan.
Transfer the cooked mushrooms and about ⅓ of the caramelized onions to the food processor. Add sunflower seeds, oats, bread crumbs, fresh dill and salt. Process until combined. You should be able to form 6 patties. If the mixture is too crumbly add tiny splashes of water, if it's too sticky add more bread crumbs.
Place the mushroom patties on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spray or brush them with oil. Bake the patties in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. They should be slightly browned.
Slice the pretzel buns open, add fresh arugula, the mushroom patty, spread mango chutney on top, if using, and add remaining caramelized onions.
Source: Adapted from elephantasticvegan.com