I don't often order veggie burgers in restaurants, mostly because I tire of the same old same old: Boca burger, Morningstar burger, or the ubiquitous black bean burger. Yawn. Boo. Gassy. Boring.
You see, my taste buds have been spoiled by the best veggie burger in the whole world: the infamous walnut burger made by the Historic Trempealeau Hotel in Wisconsin. I've never actually been to the Trempealeau Hotel, but every year when I fly back home to Michigan I take a side trip to the Michigan House Cafe in Calumet. They import Trempealeau's walnut burgers and I order it made "Gipp style". That is, slathered in chipotle sauce and heaped with fried onion tangles.
But when I can't make the long trip home—when I'm longing for the shores of Lake Superior—I make my own variation of the walnut burger. Not to replicate, but to pay homage to the Michigan House and the Historic Trempealeau Hotel. This burger is filling, packed with flavor, and develops a great crust when fried. Unlike Boca or Morningstar, mine doesn't try to replicate beef and it's not a floppy soggy mess. It's firm, it's flavorful, it's bean-free, and it's just so damn good it brings a tear to my eye. And then it slaps me in the face and tells me to stop acting like a little bitch.
My recipe uses nutritional yeast flakes which offers a wonderful natural flavor boost. It's one of our favorite vegetarian/vegan cooking flavor enhancers and it's a staple in our pantry. It's inexpensive to order on Amazon, can now be found at Trader Joe's, and can be added to everything from to "chicken" noodle soup to macaroni and cheese. If you're not ready to give yeast a try, you can substitute with an extra tablespoon of soy sauce or couple pinches of salt.
As for pumpkin seeds, I use the raw shelled form that are often found in the bulk section of natural food stores. If you don't have a natural grocer nearby, Amazon sells them from Bob's Red Mill. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of iron, zinc, protein, vitamin E, especially Omega-6 fatty acids, and magnesium.
Trust me. Make a batch. Freeze 'em & fry 'em. But be warned: once you eat our veggie burger, you'll be ruined forever. You'll laugh in the face of imposters. These are the brass knuckles of veggie burgers. You'll start punching things.
*Note: The seasonings and spices listed here are what I consider the minimum amount of seasoning. I usually add a bit more of each and experiment with new additions with every batch.
Tips: Experiment with this recipe by adding a handful of chopped sauteed mushroom, chopped spinach, and/or fresh herbs.
Add a few drops of Liquid Smoke for a hickory smoked flavor.