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When a nationally recognized news source publishes a list of top-rated restaurants, you take notice. When the roster focuses on more than two dozen eateries in the Los Angeles area alone that serve the best veggie burgers available, you have to take a second look.
Foodservice professionals across the country recognize the fast-growing popularity of what was once considered a niche menu item. Both veggie- and meat-loving restaurant guests are reaching out for the healthy benefits and great tastes of plant-based burger ingredients as varied as chickpeas, sweet potatoes and romaine lettuce.
What does it take to make a veggie burger that puts plenty of flavor between the buns? You probably stock most of the answers to that question in your commercial kitchen every day.
Beyond Tofu: 7 Vegetarian Burger Ingredients
Developing a signature veggie burger formula elevates your restaurant’s profile on the dining scene with both new customers and regular guests. While tofu holds a special place on the list of favorite vegetarian burger ingredients, it’s not the only veggie-based player in your pantries and walk-ins.
Take another look at the wonderful variety of grains and vegetables that can inspire new veggie-centric dishes and spark culinary imaginations. These seven ingredient ideas can work together in unlimited combinations sure to please all types of veggie burger food fans.
1. Protein-Rich Legumes
They’re cholesterol-free, low-fat and an excellent source of fiber. They also rank high on our list of veggie burger ingredients because their nutritional profile contains high levels of protein. Pureed legumes like easy-prep beluga lentils or black beans are perfect starters for healthy vegetable burgers.
2. Fava or Chickpea Falafel
House-made falafel is a natural base for building vegan-friendly burgers. It’s been a Middle Eastern fried-food favorite for centuries, but we like it shaped into patties and baked in the oven too. Adding tahini as a binder infuses falafel burgers with that special flavor that makes them such enticing cross-cultural entrees.
3. Versatile Root Vegetables
Mashed or shredded beets, sweet potatoes and carrots blend well with all types of plant-based burger ingredients. Different tastes and colors make root vegetables very versatile in plant-based burgers. Most are available year-round, and they’re cost-effective ingredients in any vegetable burger recipe.
4. Pressed Vegetable Pulp
Root-to-stem cooking is a mainstay in many successful restaurants, and it’s an effective strategy for controlling food costs. Take advantage of this recycling attitude towards fresh ingredients by reusing pressed vegetable pulp leftovers from green smoothies and house-made soups. Pulps add extra taste and texture to veggie burger recipes.
5. Healthy Grain Combinations
Not all vegetarian burgers include grains, but we really like how they stretch flavor profiles while holding veggie patties together. Barley, brown rice, quinoa and even oats are healthy additions to basic burger ingredients. Double down on the great taste of favorite grains by cooking them in a rich vegetable stock.
6. Vegetarian Binders
Keep your restaurant’s veggie burgers truly vegan by tossing out eggs as binders. Instead, make in-house egg substitutes. A water and flax mixture or mashed avocado holds patties together with just the right moisture levels. Fire up your culinary creativity with egg alternatives like nut butters, house-made tomato pastes and spicy mustards.
7. Freshly Sourced Toppings
Every premium burger deserves premium toppings, so serve yours with more than ordinary salad ingredients. Crown your signature veggie burger with spinach or kale and marinated red onions. Layer thinly sliced romaine lettuce hearts between patty and bun, add heirloom tomatoes, and transform a vegetarian burger into a beautifully plated presentation of good health and good eats.
Growing and Shipping Our Very Best
Health-conscious consumers are always hungry for new takes on old favorites that satisfy appetites with delicious, guilt-free flavors. Their taste for good nutrition continues to drive menu development across all types of foodservice operations. It’s no surprise that veggie burgers are earning a respected spot on restaurant menus across the country.
Here at Hitchcock Farms, we grow and ship the freshest produce available for dishes as varied as trending plant-based entrees and classic romaine lettuce salads. Whether you serve it on a bun or splash it with in-house dressing, you can always be sure you’re sourcing the very best from our fields to your restaurant tables.