That’s likely the longest title one of my posts has ever had, but anyone who has ever tasted the contents of this box…
… probably just perked up.
Trader Joe’s vegetable masala burgers are the BEST! They are so perfectly spiced, so delightfully crunchy, so indulgently rich and satisfying (if, er, a bit low on the protein). All it really seems to be is vegetables- real, identifiable, chunky vegetables; not some mushy pureed burger- somehow miraculously bound together with wonderful Indian spices.
Those of you unfortunate enough to live somewhere in the US where there isn’t a Trader Joe’s, and haven’t moved away from that place for some reason, take heart.
I was in a cookin’ mood (as so often occurs), and I was in a masala-burger-eatin’ mood (as even more often occurs).
I thought the original could stand to be a bit healthier, oil being the second ingredient and all.
And so I dissection of the (totally reasonable) ingredients began.
Potatoes, well that’s easy.
In teeny teeny TEENY dice.
Then spices. This is a compilation of some of my favorite Indian spices; the spices explicitly stated on the box; and spices other people on the Internet theorized they tasted in the burgers.
I toasted my spices, ‘cause everyone knows they taste better that way.
I did not purchase these frozen vegetables, because I am a food snob and eat vegetables from the farmer’s market.
My sister is not and likes her vegetables to be ready in two minutes. (And doesn’t really like vegetables, from what I can tell, so doesn’t put a lot of thought into them.)
Anyway, we had these and they seemed to perfectly approximate the veggies in those burgers. (In all likelihood, Trader Joes’ frozen vegetable department and frozen vegetable burger department have probably had their own collaborations).
Breadcrumbs were highish on the list, but I didn’t want to use our Italian seasoned breadcrumbs since they tasted Italian, not Indian.
So I took a (sort of old and dried out) whole wheat wrap and ripped it up.
Other copycat recipes I found pureed their vegetables.
But… but… these burgers are CRUNCHY and TEXTURAL! My copycat version must also be so!
So here’s my brilliant thing I did: I partially pureed the filling to make a thick and starchy binder for the rest of it, which stayed chunky.
My first thought was pan frying.
Uh… they dissolved even more than this picture lets on. Binding FAIL.
And a whole lot stayed in that pan.
Let’s try again- baking!
These definitely need some oil to get the wonderful crispy exterior those who’ve tasted the real burger know and love.
So a drizzle in the pan…
… a brush for even coating…
… and a brush atop the patties.
After a trip in the oven, GOSH! Look at those CHUNKY BURGERS OF DELIGHT!
Full disclosure: these burgers are beta. And by that I mean they taste good but are hilariously crumbly.
Try them! Tell me what you think! Give me suggestions! (Or just compliment me, that’d be fine too.)
Copycat Trader Joe’s Veggie Masala Burgers
1/2 tsp. dried ginger
¾ tsp. dried coriander
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tsp. ground ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. canola oil
3 red potatoes (12 oz.) finely diced
½ c. minced onion
½ c. minced green pepper
1 c. frozen mixed veggies
½ c. whole wheat breadcrumbs
½ c. water
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. water
2 tsp. canola oil
Heat a large skillet on medium high. Add spices and toast until fragrant. Remove to a separate bowl.
Add 2 tsp. canola oil. Add potatoes, onion, and green pepper, and cook for ten minutes. Add frozen vegetables and cook an additional five minutes. Add breadcrumbs and water and stir vigorously to scrape up flavorful brown layer from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low. Return spice mixture, add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with sugar. Cook an additional five minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove skillet from heat,
Remove ¾ cup of the mixture from the skillet and puree in a food processor. Stir the puree and the remaining vegetable mixture together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
Chill overnight, or at least until cool (this seemed to help them bind).
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. If small, brush with 1 tsp. oil (and make burgers in two batches). If large, brush with 2 tsp. I used a small baking sheet to bake this in my toaster oven.
Form the burgers into patties (I used my hands, and patted them down as flat as possible) and put on baking sheets, evenly spaced. Use a brush to brush any oil on the sheet that isn’t under the burgers on top of the burgers (so they brown on top and the oil doesn’t burn on the sheet). Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then broil until golden and crispy on top, rotating baking sheet in oven as necessary, about 10 minutes. (Adjust times as needed if using a conventional, rather than toaster oven.) Repeat with remaining potato mixture and oil, if making in two batches.