The Best Thing Duff and I Ever Ate

If I've seen this show once, I have seen it 10 times, but because David is such a freak for burgers, we always watch it again. And again. Perhaps you've seen it (more than once, too)--"The-Best-Thing-I-Ever-Ate-Burgers" episode on Food TV.


Not being a "burger" person, I generally tune the program out and read a book or magazine. But this time, I actually watched and listened. At the end of the show, Duff, of the Food Network's Ace of Cakes, talks about the "best-burger-I-ever-ate" and, low and behold, it's a vegetarian burger. Duff knows his food, so I am motivated to do a bit more investigating about this fabulous vegetarian burger he adores!


There it is. The recipe for the "farmhouse veggie burger" Duff raved about. It comes from The Farm Cafe in Portland, Oregon, which is a farm-to-fork restaurant that opened in 2003 and has enjoyed high acclaim, so it must be righteous, just as Duff says.


After making the summer vegetable lasagna earlier this week and receiving rave reviews from David, I thought I'd push the envelope a little more and use some of the leftover eggplant to make another vegetarian dish. 


Wow. I'm speechless. It's been over six years since I have eaten red meat and my go-to burger is generally a grilled portobella mushroom, and this "burger" definitely exceeded my expectations. In fact, I have enjoyed them so much, that's all I have eaten for the past two days. 


I have never bought or even had one of those frozen veggie discs they call a burger, and most veggie burger recipes include rice or some other grain to help hold it together (I did this one time and it was not a winner). The farmhouse veggie burger simply uses eggplant, aromatics and cheese. No egg, no rice. And you could easily use vegan cheese.


I enjoyed my first veggie burger served over a salad topped with caramelized onions. Then I had an actual burger on a bun. And. Duff. Is. Right. The burger is exquisite and definitely the way to go!


Either way you choose to serve this "burger," you won't miss the "meat." The eggplant really gives it a hearty texture and the cheese keeps it all together and creates a crispy crust.


Everything Duff recommends is spot-on and this "burger" is no different. While I may not watch his show, he's officially my hero! Move over portobella, this veggie farmhouse burger is here to stay.


Buen provecho!




Farmhouse Veggie Burger
Adapted from The Farm Cafe in Portland, Oregon


Print recipe


OK, ladies and gentlemen. This is not your average boring, frozen, bland veggie burger from a box. This is the real deal. There's no egg, no rice and no barley. Just eggplant, aromatics, cheese and some bread crumbs. If you are a burger lover, I feel certain this will satiate your burger craving. And for vegetarians, you'll be over the moon!


Makes 4-6 patties, depending on how big you make them (I made 4)


2 globe eggplants, tops removed and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 1/2 cups)
2 shallots, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese or Daiya vegan cheddar shreds or Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs or homemade breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Hamburger buns





Over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons olive oil and saute eggplant until very soft, adding more oil if needed. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Once slightly softened, add the shallots, onions and garlic, add another sprinkle of salt and continue cooking until everything is nice and soft. 




While the eggplant is cooking, in a big bowl add the breadcrumbs, parsley and shredded cheese and set aside. 




When the eggplant mixture is cooked, take 3/4 of it and place it in a food processor, and place the remaining 1/4 in the big bowl with the dry ingredients. Pulse or blend the eggplant mixture until smooth. 




Add the eggplant mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine well. The hot eggplant mixture will melt the cheese. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.




Form the eggplant mixture into 4-6 patties and place them on a cookie sheet
or large dish lined with parchment or wax paper. Stick them in a freezer for 10-15 minutes to flash cool them. Then place them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.






Remove the patties from the fridge and in a saute pan big enough to cook at least two or three burgers at a time, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add veggie burgers and let cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on how big your burgers are. The cheese will create a crispy crust on the outside and you'll want it to be heated through, so give it time. Flip the burgers and cook another 5 minutes until crispy on the outside. Repeat with the rest of the patties.


Serve in a bun and top with caramelized onions or any other condiments you want. A side salad makes a great addition to this healthy meal. Alternatively, you could serve the patty on top of a bunch of greens.





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