In middle school, I had a brief flirtation with vegetarianism. I would love to tell you I was enlightened to the health benefits of a plant based diet. Or that I was aware of the environmental impact of industrial meat. Or even that I found eating cute, furry animals morally wrong. But no. I became a vegetarian because my best friend was a vegetarian. Good thing she didn't experiment with illicit substances or get a tattoo.
If there was an award for worst vegetarian, it would have been awarded to yours truly. First of all, I wasn’t actually a vegetarian. At night I would sneak into the kitchen and pick at leftover bits of sesame chicken and spoonfuls of meat sauce. The portion of my diet that was actually vegetarian consisted of pasta, cheese, pizza, and sweets. Of course, now, being more enlightened about intuitive eating and how restriction often leads to just eating more of the thing you're trying to restrict, it all makes sense.
One of the foods I ate most when I was a vegetarian were frozen veggie burgers. It was so easy for my parents when they had no clue what to feed their vegetarian daughter! But now as an adult with a little more refined tastebuds, I usually like to make my own. Especially because I like to actually taste veggies in my burger instead of a weird, salty hockey puck!
This eggplant and zucchini veggie burger has an emphasis on the veggies! It's really tender, so you might want to eat it with a fork and knife handy. I love how eggplant has this meaty flavor to it. The basil aioli takes it to a new level!
Eggplant and Zucchini Veggie Burger with Basil Aioli
Adapted from Love & Olive Oil.
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium zucchini, grated on the large holes of a cheese grater
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/3 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 100% whole grain hamburger buns, toasted
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Sliced tomato
- Toss eggplant with a generous sprinkle of salt and let sit in a colander for 20-30 minutes to remove some of the water. Blot dry with a paper towel.
- Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a clean kitchen towel, wrap up and twist to squeeze out some water.
- Heat tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add eggplant and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes total.
- Add sauteed eggplant to a large bowl with drained zucchini, panko and egg. Mash together with a potato masher. Form mixture into 6 balls.
- Wipe skillet clean and pour in enough oil to cover. Set to medium-high heat. Add the veggie burgers and press down lightly with the back of a spatula to flatten slightly. Fry about 5 minutes per side.
- While burgers are frying, make the basil aioli. Blend basil, mayo, and garlic in a food processor until creamy, scraping down sides if needed.
- Assemble the burgers in the bun with avocado, tomato slices, microgreens and basil aioli.
More veggie burgers/sandwiches: