Moosewood’s Classic Tofu Burgers
The nineteen-person Moosewood Collective and the groundbreaking Moosewood Restaurant have been serving up plant-based grub since before you learned the words “juice cleanse.” They’ve tweaked the recipe for their tofu burger over decades to make it one of the holy grails of gluten-free burgers.
There’s nothing worse than the freezer-burn-ridden consolation of a veggie burger thrown on the grill as an afterthought at a backyard barbecue – especially when the burned brat bits are picked up from the grill. In this Moosewood recipe, the carnivores will be the ones missing out.
Moosewood’s Classic Tofu Burgers
Photo credit Jim Scherer for MOOSEWOOD
The Moosewood Collective says, “Our all-time favorite, luscious burgers the way we make them now: Vegan and wheat-free.
“Tofu burgers have been a favorite at the restaurant since we can remember. Our customers often call to ask, “Are tofu burgers on the menu today?” They love ’em! In the early years, we almost always served them on a thick slice of whole wheat toast with lettuce, tomato slices, and Russian dressing. Now we serve them various ways; some suggestions follow the recipe.
“Because of the increase in the number of our customers who are either gluten intolerant or trying to reduce their consumption of wheat, we’ve developed ways to make our various kinds of tofu burgers without the bread crumbs we used to use in our published recipes and in the restaurant. Dicing the vegetables small, finely grating the tofu in a food processor, and grinding the walnuts all help to make a mix that will hold its shape.
“This recipe makes eight large burgers, or you can shape the mix into smaller patties or “meatballs.” We’re happy when we have extra burgers and can freeze them for later (see Notes).”
Yields 8 burgers
Prep time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 30 to 40 minutes
2 14- to 16- ounce blocks firm tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup grated carrots
1⁄2 cup seeded and diced bell peppers (any color)
1 cup coarsely ground toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil
First press the tofu for at least 30 minutes (see below).
While the tofu presses, prepare the rest of the burger mix, and when you’re ready to grate the tofu, discard the expressed liquid.
In a covered skillet on low heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, sprinkle with the salt and oregano, and cook on low heat for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and bell peppers and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
Finely grate the pressed tofu in a food processor and add it to the bowl of cooked vegetables along with the walnuts, soy sauce, mustard, sesame oil, tahini, pepper, and basil. Mix well and add more soy sauce to taste.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
Using about a cup per burger, shape the mix into 8 burgers. Set the burgers on the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, 30 to 40 minutes.
How to Press Tofu
Whether or not you need to press tofu depends on both how it’s used in the recipe and the quality of the tofu. Soft and silken tofus are never pressed. Firm, and even extra- firm, tofu may contain a lot of moisture, and that can affect the outcome. It may not matter too much in some recipes, for instance baked tofu— you may just have to bake it longer.