Vegan Ranch Burgers

May 28, 2012

Yesterday’s burger – the U.S. Navy Bean Burger – got two thumbs up! Next on the menu…Vegan Ranch Burgers.

LilSis’ Spinach Turkey Burgers looked really tasty to me, and I thought they’d be pretty easy to veganize. I found this recipe for Vegan Ranch Burgers on VegNews and thought it would be the perfect place to start.

The base for the burgers is TVP (textured vegetable protein) and wheat gluten with a little panko. Flavors come from onion, mushrooms, garlic, dill, chipotle, parsley, nutritional yeast, tomato sauce and tamari.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly except for reducing the tamari by 75%, and adding a couple of big handfuls of fresh spinach. Sounds good, right?

Somehow I managed to mess this up. :(  Badly.

I started out ok. I got my mise en place done and started the mushrooms, garlic and onion sauteing. The TVP was nuked in veggie broth for a few minutes, and was standing by. Then everything went into the blender to whiz around. Sweet, this was going well! I’m kind of proud at how efficiently I’m cooking. Maybe I should do a cooking video?

Why isn’t this working? Maybe I need a little water; I did leave out 3 tablespoons of the tamari since it makes my eyes uber puffy. I add a couple tablespoons of water, and then a couple more, and a couple more, but the blender still won’t budge. Crap! What’s wrong?

Oh, oops. The directions say to use a food processor. Not a blender.

I dump everything into the food processor, and put the blender in the sink to soak. Now the concoction seems too wet. Maybe I added too much water? :(

Did I also process too long? The mix seems really really gluten-ish. Not in a good way.

I scrape everything out of the food processor, and put the processor in the sink to soak. Maybe the mix will come together if I just chill it for a while. That’s the ticket. I’m sure that’ll work. It works for cookie dough!

Half an hour later, I take the burger stuff out of the fridge and portion into 6 patties. I’m still hopeful that this is going to turn out well. I’m so confident that I even pull out my scale and weigh the burger balls so they’re all equal in size (5.25 ounces, if you care).

I don’t have a grill pan, so I oil up a couple of Green Pans, and plop the perfectly-shaped and evenly-weighed patties in. I set the timer for 10 minutes per side, as per the recipe.

So now the patties are sticking? I guess I needed more oil. I used my Green Pans though. For cryin out loud, stuff ain’t supposed to stick in a Green Pan!

I add a bit more oil and try to swish it under the sticking patties. The timer goes off so I flip the patties over, and set it for another 10 minutes on side #2.

I’m noticing that these guys are getting pretty dark. Too dark. They’re still way mushy though. I’m sure they aren’t done. I keep cooking. And cooking. Now they’re really getting dark. And they’re still wiggly.

Now I give up. I put/slam a couple of patties on a paper plate and nuke the daylights outta them. You just try being mushy now, you stubborn veggie patty nemesis of mine!

Finally! The patties seem firm. Only problem is, now they look like beef. And feel like beef. And they look nothing like the pretty photo on VegNews.

Vegan Ranch Burger Pile


I try to make the patties look pretty so you don’t see my disaster…

Vegan Ranch Burger

…but all I’ve really done is cover up the patty with avocado and tomato. The ugly is still lurking there in-between the avocado and the collards.

The bright point is that the flavors were pretty good. It didn’t taste “ranchy” to me, but it was tasty. Not hot and not too spicy; just a nice balance of flavors.

The main issue I had was the texture. First it was mushy, then it was too beefy. I know I took a bunch of wrong turns with this burger, so I can’t fault the recipe (I love you, VegNews). I’m finding though that my taste tends away from beefy texture that is too realistically meat-like. I probably am better off with burgers that don’t contain TVP or wheat gluten.

Vegan Ranch Burger Close

The other issue is that I dirtied up a ton of dishes, wasted some good ingredients, and took a big chunk of time out of my day that I could have spent on Pinterest! :)

And the worst part? It was all my bad. I’m sure this recipe works beautifully when the cook doesn’t screw it up!

The bottom line? I’m not gonna lie…I’m a better baker and LilSis is a better cook! I bet she could take this recipe and throw these dudes on her magic grill and they’d be freakin awesome! I’m gonna go make brownies now…this mess was stressful.


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