I’m having a vegetarian dinner guest again this weekend, and my tried-and-true options (a) have been done before, and (b) aren’t seeming super appropriate at this moment with this gorgeous weather. What does seem appropriate? Grilling! Burgers and side salads make an easy entertaining menu, so I decided to try two very different vegetarian burger recipes: Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers and Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese.
My use of the word “dueling” in the title might suggest that there was actually some hot competition between the recipes. There wasn’t. One recipe was leaps and bounds (truly!) above the other. I wanted to include both, though, to help anyone who might be having their own veggie burger debate.
I’ll start with the Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers since I made them first. The patties were made of quinoa, carrots, scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, and egg; they were seasoned with cumin, salt, and pepper. The patties came together easily and without too much mess, and I liked that they could be assembled a day ahead and held (uncooked) in the refrigerator. The recipe called for the patties to be cooked on the stove, but I decided to use my outdoor grill since it would create less mess when I was entertaining my guests. They cooked up easily (I did 8 minutes per side over medium heat) and didn’t stick to the grill at all.
The problem? Despite all those delicious ingredients, they didn’t have a lot of flavor. They were also super dry when we reheated the leftovers the next day. The yogurt-lemon-scallion sauce helped quite a bit, but the experience really should be about the burger, right? Carnivores would never trade a beef or turkey burger for one of these, but I figured the quinoa burger would be a not-amazing-but-good-enough backyard barbecue option for vegetarians.
That was, until I tasted the Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese. Oh. Mah. Gawd. They were just as easy to make as the quinoa burgers (maybe easier) and still had make-ahead convenience factor, but I would actually choose this over meat from time to time. Portobellos are a meaty mushroom to begin with, and they soaked up the marinade so beautifully. You know that wonderfully messy, juicy dribble you get when you bite into a fantastic burger? You get it here. With roasted red peppers and goat cheese (two of my favorite ingredients!) on a grill-toasted bun, this was absolute heaven.
My only note is that you’ll use either one or two mushrooms per burger depending on the size of your portobellos. Just make sure you get at least the weight recommended by the recipe (1 pound). Consider making extras… You won’t regret it!