It’s the Blend of the World as We Know It

Mushroom-beef blended burgerTip #16 on our list of 50 Plant-Forward Ideas for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is to create blended burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs subbing in heritage grains for a portion of the meat. They’ll add a nutty flavor and pleasant chew.

You can also sub in mushrooms, starchy vegetables, beans, and much more. Reducing the meat and adding plants means a healthier burger for you — and the planet. Follow these simple steps to a delicious blended burger (or meatball or meatloaf):

  • Choose your plant. Cooked lentils, beans, and mushrooms are some of the more common plants to blend (and are a good place to start), but our chefs encourage you to get even more creative with things like beets, quinoa, or even broccoli! A simple 75 percent meat, 25 percent plants (best precooked) is a good place to start, then you can adjust the ratio to your taste.
  • Stir in spices, herbs, and seasonings. Salt, pepper, and fresh herbs are all you need. But we also like to experiment with bolder flavors like turmeric or smoked paprika.
  • Consider combining ingredients with a binder. Reducing the amount of meat and adding plants may mean that the blended burger patty does not stick together as easily as a traditional burger — and no one wants a crumbling patty that falls apart on the grill. Although foods such as mushrooms and mashed lentils or beans should be sticky enough, if your blend is looking a little wet or crumbly, consider adding an egg (or a flax egg made with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water), a little chickpea water, or fine breadcrumbs to help it hold its shape.
  • Go full-on veg. Dense, hearty vegetables such as eggplant and portobello mushrooms can star on a “burger” for a plant-forward sandwich or taco filling. Or try grilling a cauliflower steak, tofu steak, or barbecued tempeh.

Need some specific ideas? Check out these:

Blended burger graphic

From The Culinary Institute of America’s Protein Flip campaign for Menus of Change