I don't often order veggie burgers in restaurants, mostly because I tire of the same old same old Boca, Morningstar, and black bean burgers. Yawn. Boo. Bloat.
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 "Gipp style". That is, slathered in chipotle sauce and heaped with fried onion tangles.
But when I can't make the long trip home 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. My burger is vegetarian but not vegan. And unlike some of the newcomers to the veggie burger scene (i.e. Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger) mine doesn't “bleed” or try to replicate beef. My burger has a firm texture, complex flavor, is bean-free, and is 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 and can now be found at Trader Joe's. It can be added to everything from "chicken" noodle soup to macaroni and cheese. If you're not ready to give yeast a try you can substitute with a lesser amount of parmesan cheese.
As for pumpkin seeds, I use the raw ones (no shells) 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.
This recipe makes a large batch because you’ll want to 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 mushrooms, spinach, or roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs. Add a few drops of Liquid Smoke for a more smoked/grilled flavor.
Serving Suggestion: In our house we usually skip the buns and make a burger board instead- like a vegetarian charcuterie. It usually contains a dollop of grain mustard, lightly steamed seasonal veggies from the garden and one or two pickled items like beets or cukes. We also love this Memphis-style coleslaw recipe from the Barefeet In The Kitchen blog… especially when we add raw julienned snow pea pods as shown here: