My carnivorous husband has always found the level of satisfaction I get when eating a veggie burger a bit peculiar – especially the black bean variety. He once had a bad experience with one before we met that has haunted him to the point he won’t eat one again. The thought of eating one makes him want to vomit.
At times I have tried to persuade him or trick him into biting into one, but to no avail. However, if I make him a veggie burger made from eggplants, he will happily eat it without hesitating.
Sometimes I crave a good vegetarian burger stacked with layers of different toppings. For me a great burger comes down to the quality of ingredients, different textures, flavors, and a visual appeal (after all, we eat with our eyes first). And if it’s a really good burger, every bite will be savored from first to last.
As I was thinking about what would make a great vegetarian burger dinner without making my husband feel ill, two viable options came to mind: Portobello mushrooms or eggplant. Given that I made mushroom bacon burgers with melted Swiss cheese just last week eggplant sounded delightful. It is soft, yet firm enough to hold its shape after grilling. Grilled eggplant can hold a myriad of toppings, just like a beef patty, without falling apart with the first bite.
This burger also has a base of mixed greens, charred sautéed red bell peppers, red onion slivers, and a tiny slice of fresh mozzarella to go over the eggplant steak, ripe avocado slivers, a tablespoon of feta cheese, and a pinch of mint to give it a more complex but complimentary flavor. I should also mention that I like to drizzle the burger with homemade balsamic vinegar glaze to give it a touch of sweetness and acidity. You’ll have to just trust me when I say this burger is amazing because it really is.
I gave it to my husband and he loved it mentioning how glad it wasn’t a black bean burger.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Recipe: Grilled Eggplant Burgers
A delicious vegetarian burger using eggplant steaks, feta cheese with mint, lettuce, sauteed red bell pepper, avocado, feta cheese, and finished off with a balsamic glaze.
1 eggplant, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
6 thin slices Mozzarella cheese
6 pub buns
1 cup loose mixed greens
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 medium ripe avocados, thinly sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons thinly chopped mint
Heat the grill to medium-high
Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill the eggplant slices for 6-7 minutes, then flip the slice.
Top the eggplant off with the cheese and grill for 6-7 more minutes until fork tender.
While the eggplant is grilling, prepare the balsamic glaze.
On medium high heat, cook the balsamic vinegar with the sugar, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
The sauce should be as thick as maple syrup. Set aside.
After the eggplant has finished cooking, use a saute pan on the grill to cook the red bell pepper for 4 minutes using the remaining olive oil. After cooking for 4 minutes, turn off the heat.
Grill the buns, cut side down, for a minute just to toast them.
Starting with the bottom bun, cut side facing up, begin to layer the burger
Lettuce, red bell pepper, eggplant, red onions, avocado, and a tablespoon of feta cheese. Top each burger off with a pinch of mint. Generously drizzle the balsamic glaze over the entire burger.