I like veggie burgers, but not all veggie burgers. You know those quinoa ones in that football commercial on TV? Those don’t look good. I like vegetarian burger options that don’t pretend to be meat. Spicy black beans and corn? Check. Roasted vegetables? Check. Eggplant parmesan? CHECK. These are better than actual eggplant parmesan, in my opinion. The fact that you squeeze the moisture out when you’re making these means that you don’t get a soggy/mushy eggplant that turns most people away from the vegetable in the first place. It’s a little more effort than forming up some meat patties or tossing some frozen veggie burgers in the toaster oven, but the extra effort is worth it. They still don’t take very long and all you need is a salad on the side for a complete meal.
- 2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs.), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups panko
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
- Marinara sauce (about ¾ cup)
- Sliced mozzarella cheese
- Burger buns, sliced and toasted (My favorite ones are the Publix French hamburger rolls. They have a nice crusty exterior and hold up well to any burger.)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the eggplant to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to make sure the eggplant cubes all get submerged. Cook until the cubes are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, spread between layers of clean kitchen towels or multiple layers of paper towels and press out as much excess liquid as possible. Once the eggplant is drained, transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
2. Transfer the chopped eggplant to a large bowl. Add the panko, Parmesan, parsley, basil and garlic to the bowl. Stir in the eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into six patties.
3. Preheat the oven to 450˚ F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties to the skillet and cook, turning once, until the burgers are browned on both sides. (Add the additional 1 tablespoon of oil when you flip the burgers, if necessary.) Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the patties to the baking sheet. Top each patty with a few tablespoons of marinara sauce and a layer of sliced mozzarella. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Assemble with burger buns and any other desired toppings. I toasted the buns with a little butter and garlic. Yum!