Simple, No Fail Tofu Burgers
August 31, 2010

I had a something resembling a breakdown on the phone with Time Warner last night. There’s nothing quite like internet problems to make one unravel, right? Fortunately, in the middle of a few days of spotty internet and other, associated tech problems, there are these simple, no fail tofu burgers. Which, as the recipe title suggests, are something you can count on.

Actually, the internet outage has given me some healthy perspective. After getting off the phone with Time Warner, I tidied up my little apartment, closed all of my books and manuscript pages, and went to bed at 9:57 pm. I woke up this morning, and for once I sipped my coffee without the distraction of emails and blog reading. Instead, I gazed out my window onto Columbus Avenue, and remembered that there was a time in my life (not so long ago, really) when my early morning ritual didn’t involve frenetic internet activity. It involved a quiet appreciation of the sounds of New York City waking up.

It was really nice.

I’ll never be a person who likes to “escape.” I like being plugged into the action at every moment. Even when I travel, one of my favorite moments in the day is the moment when I have some time to write emails and check in at work. Still, this morning reminded me that I am capable of appreciating quiet, if not constitutionally suited to enjoy it for too long. So in a way, I’m grateful to my internet for momentarily abandoning me.

Anyway, this recipe originated when a reader sent me a request for “tofu burgers that won’t crumble and fall apart on the grill.” I’d never made tofu burgers before, but it sounded like an excellent challenge to me—especially since I’ve been on a burger kick lately (still haven’t tried my sweet potato chickpea burgers? Do it!).

My goal was to find a way to bind the burgers together without making them too dense. My solution was to use a bit of whole grains (oats) and a bit of nut/seed butter (tahini). It worked better than I could have imagined. And the taste? Thanks to carrots, nutritional yeast, and a bit of tamari, these were delectable. And not even a little crumbly. Here’s how it’s all done.

Simple, No Fail Tofu Burgers
Recipe Type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, tree nut free, gluten free, no oil
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 burgers
Ingredients
  • 1 14 or 15-ounce block extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 1 hour if possible
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 2 small stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
Instructions
  1. If baking the burgers, preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Break the tofu apart into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse a few times. Add the remaining ingredients and continue pulsing until the mixture is evenly blended, but some texture from the oats and vegetables is still visible.
  3. Shape the mixture into 4 patties. Either transfer the burgers to the baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until lightly browning), flipping once through, or lightly oil a skillet and cook them on each side till crispy and golden brown (about 3-4 minutes per side).


These burgers were a shining example of how wonderful it is that I have readers who write in with requests for food. I’d never have thought to make them–usually, if I want a burger, I’ll make my herbed rice and sunflower seed burgers—but now that I have, I imagine they’ll make a regular appearance in the CR kitchen. Thanks to all of you for continually challenging me to go outside of my routines!

And now, it’s back to work I go. I ask you all to cross your fingers and hope that I’m the proud owner of a new modem very, very soon.

xo

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    67 Comments
  1. Yum. That recipe looks really good. I never thought to combine oats and tofu in a burger.
    So sorry to hear about your trials and tribulations. Loss of internet is a stinker. I know how easy it is to become hooked. Being dumped by email is almost worse, but as you so wisely say, this disrespectful (and downright cowardly) method of departure is a clear indication of what the person is really like – no great loss.. As my friend Andrew so inelegantly says, “Scrape the shoe, and move on”… (dog owners will get the reference!) I prefer the Feng Shui approach of clear the clutter out of your life to make room for the good stuff to come in.
    Hugs and wishing you strength to deal with your tougher days.
    xx Kate

  2. I just thought I’d let you know I tried and loved these! I just baked them in the oven and they still got a great crust and held together perfectly. With the short ingredients list they are so easy too 🙂 Thank you.

  3. These are my new favorite things, I’ve already made them twice, the first time the entire batch may have been consumed over the course of just one day… I must have made mine smaller than yours though because I got 8 and I also realized after the fact that I used only 1/2 cup of oats and 14oz of tofu, but I doubt they could have been all that different. yum

  4. my world would fall apart without the computer or internet. but yes i enjoy unplugging from time to time too.

    lovely looking burgers!

  5. Ug, good riddance to that guy!

    Sorry to hear about your troubles – these burgers look perfect, though. And just in time for labor day bbqs!

  6. Oh Time Warner, how I love thee and thine “2 weeks out” appointments.
    Jeez Gena, that does not sound fun. I agree with you – I like to feel connected to what’s going on, always. And then have the freedom to step away from connectivity IF I CHOOSE TO, not be forced into a disconnected black hole involuntarily.
    I’m wishing you much luck with the modem.

  7. Thanks Gena! I was craving something with avocado ;). I’ve had a few internet breakdowns in my day. Scary sometimes how we are attached to our computers both for work and play.

  8. I just saw this recipe and whipped them up for breakfast – yumo! We just sold our 2 family cars for scrap and the day they were hauled off, the propane tank ran out on the grill. As soon as we figure out how to transport a propane canister safely on a bike, we’ll be grilling these babies! Thanks Gina.

  9. P.S. I tried your yam/chick-pea burgers and they were so delicious!!! I ate the whole batch one Saturday afternoon/night BUT I did use mashed chick-pea because I couldn’t find the flour and within minutes (even though I soaked them overnight) the chick-peas made me look about six months pregnant. I’ve never done well on those… Any other suggestions? I did love them so but I can’t go through that again!

    • Delaney,

      I can’t think of a bean sub in those burgers, sadly. Have you tried Bean-Zyme? It’s the vegan version of Beano.

      G

  10. Dumped over email, so cold. I’m sorry. Sometimes I long for the days when we couldn’t text or email. Remember when we were little and if someone called for you and you weren’t home, they just left a message? I kinda miss that. I hope things turn around really fast. You have a lot going on.

    • Oooh, not sure what to tell you, Delaney. These are really meant to be bean burgers, so if you don’t eat beans, it’s a toughie! Have you tried Bean-Zyme, the vegan alternative to Beano? It’s awesome.

  11. Oh Gena! (((HERE))) is a big hug from halfway around the world. I’m sorry you are having such a rough time. Doesn’t it seem like sometimes all the you know what hits the proverbial fan all at the same time? You’ve been having a really gross couple of days, but if anyone can bounce back in style it’s you! I’m glad your mom was able to cheer you up and get you back on the right track. 🙂

    I’m like you, no matter how stressed out I get I still like being plugged in all day long. I like keeping on top of my work and staying ahead of it all. We’ve got that in common!

    I love the look of those burgers! I LOVE burgers so I’m always up for new recipes.

  12. Sounds like a tough week. Time Warner should get on it and get you back online asap. Glad you were able to publish this post. It sounds like you were able to enjoy the unwanted tech isolation – it can do us all a bit of good 🙂

    • Eh, it’s OK. The nice thing about being treated so shabbily is that it instantaneously erases all admiration you felt for the person.

  13. Hey Gena!
    I have a request: raw chocolate lava cake, or vegan, gluten free angel food cake.

    Just some suggestions!
    Good luck with the computer troubles!

    xo
    ~Julia

    • Thanks Julia! I’m actually not a big fan of sweets (unlike other rawbies, I don’t have a passion for raw dessert making), but if the impulse hits me, which I’m sure it will at some point, I’ll have these filed away 🙂

  14. the burgers look fantastic!! I have always wondered how to turn tofu into a veggie burger- question answered, thanks!
    So sorry about your Internet issues 🙁 I used to do internet support via phone for Comcast and it was so horrible to hear about people’s problems, and not be able to send someone out RIGHT AWAY.
    Do you have a business plan with Time Warner? We actually had to void some contracts with Comcast for people that had residential service and were constantly calling us saying that they ran businesses or did a ton of work stuff via their home service, and that their internet was always out. So lame…

  15. Hey Gena,
    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having a bit of a rough time. I hope Time Warner knows whats best for them by showing up!
    On the plus side, your burgers look amazing and I can’t wait to try them! Sending you positive thoughts 🙂

  16. I’ve had more than my fair share of meltdowns when it comes to technology. Last summer in particular, I nearly broke down when my computer, camera, and HRM all broke within a week.

  17. I’ve had some phone breakdowns. Always chalked it up to being hyper-sensitive til I got a call one day from my high-powered boss (30 page resume, 5 books) from the Amsterdam airport. She was in hysterics over a matter I can’t even remember now (a missed connection, I think); I only recall that I had to solve the problem from Boston. And I thought to myself, “Wow, even brilliant people with PhDs can go a bit crazy when life doesn’t go according to plan.” A great life lesson. At least my hysterical breakdowns are between me and a few (OK, more than a few) customer service reps along the way.

    • Hyper-sensitive is literally the last thing anyone would say about me, so believe me, it’s the technology failures — not us!

  18. While I don’t really like Tofu burgers – I prefer a thick tasty black bean burger with seasoning! 🙂 But, I can relate with the being plugged in thing for sure. I even have a hard time unplugging when I’m out hiking or climbing. If I get a signal, chances are I’m using my iPhone to stay connected.

    • C,

      I’m with ya! In fact, was gonna respond to averie’s comment above by saying how much I prefer bean-ful burgers 🙂 But I was still excited for this recipe challenge, and its a nice alternative.

      G

  19. I’m so sorry about your internet! I can’t imagine not having mine either. Good luck with that.

    Those tofu burgers look yumm-o! And agree, everything’s bettah with avo!

  20. Oy geez. I totally understand about your internet situation. I try to disconnect myself from the computer screen as much as I can but it’s SO hard. Hope you get it back soon.

  21. These look awesome and I love how simple they are! *Saved*

    That stinks about the internet. I’ll admit that I’ve become way too dependent on technology. Without a computer/tv/phone, I would probably just sit and stare at the wall! I’m sorry about your hectic week hope everything resolves itself soon 🙂

  22. I am the same way as you. Sometimes I appreciate ‘unplugging,’ but all the work I do is online and I love doing all the little, easy, mindless tasks while watching a movie with Dan or sitting outside on the porch with a cup of coffee.

  23. I’m sorry about all the difficulties you’ve been facing!! Have you thought about purchasing a wireless card? We have one in the rare instance our internet goes down – it has happened in the past and trust me when I say it wasn’t pretty. My husband decided there and then to get the wireless card and have it on standby!

    It’s also useful for traveling!

  24. “I had fifty dollars stolen from my wallet. I got dumped (over email). And it’s that time of the month.”–HUGS!!!!!!!!

    And the whole internet thing and being reliant and dependent. Well, it’s like having a car. Could we all probably get along with one IF we had time to restructure our life to make it feasible? Yes. But if it just breaks down or does out with no notice, 17 things are now disrupted in a very big way. I totally feel your pain!!

    And the cable companies are legal crooks but that’s another story! Grrr. Not a fan of them!

    I too find relaxation in checking my email and staying connected. I do like to unplug too but have to force myself to. My natural tendency like yours is to stay in the know and in the loop!

    Oh I ordered that book recommendation from Amazon,thanks…no promises when i will read it all, but it’s on it’s way 🙂

    The burgers, lovely!!! without being too heavy, dense, bean-laden. Great work, of course!!!

    HANG in there hon!!!

    🙂

  25. I think you are right in the freaking out part, I would be a mess if I did not have any access to the internet. Or I would spend my entire life in Starbucks using their wifi.
    Those burgers look delicious, I am gonna try making them but swapping the celery for sauteed mushrooms as I hate celery from the days of insisting the only food I could eat was celery due to it being so low in calories.

  26. How incredibly frustrating when a service you actually *need* for work is unavailable. Getting dumped is the worst, and by email is such a disrespect. I’m glad you let it spill out and got a quicker fix! Hugs to you.
    My time of month just arrived, too… but knock on wood, this week has started out well. I hadn’t been in the habit of buying tofu until the past two weeks, and I love the brand I’ve been buying- it’s a sprouted soybean tofu. Really creamy and neutral tasting, great in smoothies and spring rolls- now I’ll have to try in burgers!

  27. Aww Gena, being upset was totally justified 🙂 Those were a lot of things to happen to you all in a day or two. Look at you though, seeing the positive and enjoying a quiet moment this morning 🙂

    Your a strong, wonderful person!
    xoxo

  28. Oh my. I think I feel the same. I refuse to do the facebook or twitter thing because I am already a little worried about how dependent on am on email/blogging, etc.
    But like you, the worry with the computer would extend far beyond a blog …but to work, work search, etc etc.
    Probably not a good thing.
    Manuscript pages? Are you writing something?

  29. I love that you said everything is made better by avocado – that is becoming my life motto! Good luck with your internet troubles.

    These burgers look great. My household happens to not be very tahini-loving. Do you have any recommendations for replacements? Do you think sunflower seeds, soaked and processed, would work?

    • I think the texture would be nice, but it might not work as efficiently as a binder. I’d say nut butter of some sort is actually a better substitute.

    • I don’t know for sure, but I’d wager that unsweetened sunflower seed butter (like Maranatha) would work best as soaking the seeds could add some unwanted moisture. That’s just my guess though.

  30. You poor dear! A break-up over email. That’s the pits!

    That tofu burger looks phenomenal–oats are a magical ingredient I’m really learning to appreciate in savory dishes.

  31. I haven’t had internet for about a month now. The first time it got turned off, I freaked out and cried. Now, it kind of feels nice? I have resorted to reading my cookbooks instead of searching the bowels of the internet for the PERFECT recipe for just about anything. And when I’m home, I’m home. No more emails, blogging, work, distraction. I am forced to relax. And it’s been fun. Now, if it goes on too long, I will mutiny my landlord and possibly attack him with a fork to the jugular.

  32. Wow, so sorry about your internet experience, I’d be frustrated too. And wow, so sorry about the trying times – dumped over email? You know what? Good riddance! But I think a breakdown was in order. This is very much reminding me of my last week, hang in there!

    I tried and really liked your tofu scramble too and was impressed my egg-loving mother really liked it as well. And I can’t wait to try this burger recipe – thanks! Keep up these great tofu recipes and I just may need a tofu press!

  33. So sorry you have so many crazy things going on right now, but you are a strong, amazing person and I know things will look up for you soon! xoxo

  34. I think you are totally justified in your “breakdown”! You have a lot going on and a gal needs her internet. 🙂 I’ve been known to lose it a time or 2 with a frustrating customer service experience. These burgers look fab.

  35. I hope your internet works soon!!!

    I know how it feels. When we moved into our house about a month and a half ago, I had to wait 2 weeks to get the internet hooked up. It sucked! Let’s just say I got to know all the baristas at the neighborhood Starbucks really well and vise versa. I made sure that I got all the things that I could get done offline at home so that I would be more efficient with my time at Starbucks!

    Good luck! 😉