The 'Chicago' Veggie Burger

It's officially summer in Chicago, which is loosely defined as a brief period of time without snow. So now that it has finally stopped snowing and the thermometer is generally staying above 60 degrees, the grills are out. Perfect timing for the 4th of July! Yayy America!

I bet you're wondering why this is a Chicago burger, right? Doesn't look like stuffed pizza or a Chicago 'dog. Well it's a Chicago burger because I say so! Psych. It's a Chicago burger because I made it from some ingredients that grew up right here in Chicago (and I stuffed it with giardiniera).

Let's all be real honest about veggie burgers. This is certainly no replacement for a juicy beef burger. But sometimes we just need to switch it up in the summer (gotta fit into that polka dot bikini gurl and man thongs... barf). And we don't want to be excluded from summer BBQ fun because we are being figure friendly, now do we? That's why we have veggie burgers (oh yea, and for the vegetarians out there). Flavor packed, non-cardboard like patties that can be juicy and delicious if prepared correctly.

The Chicago Veggie Burger
 (makes 4 large patties or 6 medium)

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms*
1 cup brown rice
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
3 summer onions* (diced) (could sub. 1 regular onion)
3 garlic scapes* (minced)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup horseradish cheddar cheese* (grated)
fresh goat cheese* (crumbled)
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 large egg (beaten)
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp giardiniera + more for toping
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dijon mustard
4 fresh rolls
*local ingredients

Start by cooking the rice. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add rice. Lower heat to low and cover for 10 minutes. 

Wash mushrooms and toss all into a food processor. Pulse until the mushrooms are chopped into little pieces, but not mush. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and some salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic scape. Add all the spices (cumin seeds, coriander, celery salt, cayenne pepper) and tomato paste to the pan. Cook until most of the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated (about 10 minutes).

In a large mixing bowl, smash the black beans with a wooden spoon. Leave some lumps, you don't want it to be too smooth. Texture people!! Add the rice and mushroom mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Mix in horseradish cheddar cheese and 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Add salt and pepper and combine all ingredients. Once the mixture has cooled a bit, add the egg and combine.

Form the mixture into burger patties. Dredge the patties in the extra bread crumbs. Refrigerate the patties for an hour before cooking.

Heat olive oil on a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Cook the veggie burgers for about 6 minutes total, until both sides are crispy golden brown.

Serve the burger on a fresh bun with goat cheese, Dijon mustard, iceberg lettuce and some giardiniera! Hello summer in the city!! If you're looking for a good recipe, test this one out. I did lots of research!

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