Eggplant has historically not been a favorite vegetable of mine, but over the past few years I’ve developed an appreciation for the buttery goodness it becomes when roasted. Here the eggplant and tomato are roasted, tossed in curry spices and enhanced with millet, which has all kinds of nutritional benefits, and then slathered with a delicious roast-tomato relish to serve.
Potato starch ends up being a real lifeline in some of the burgers where I’m trying not to use eggs. With the eggplant and tomatoes being fairly moist, the potato starch comes to the rescue by acting as a fairly tasteless binder. It’s inexpensive and found basically everywhere.
With many of the burgers I’m working on, the challenge is to get the texture and firmness right. This one is still a little looser than I’d prefer—what veggie burger enthusiast doesn’t hate when you bite into a veggie burger and have half the pattie glob out the other end?—so if anyone has any suggestions, please send them along.
Lastly, I won’t burden you with these terrible photos for too much longer…. If it’s not already evident, photography is not one of my strengths.
Curried Eggplant & Tomato Burger (vegan, gluten free)
1 medium eggplant (approx. 12 oz)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (2 cups if preparing the curried tomato relish)
3 cloves garlic, slivered
1 small red onion, chopped finely
1/3 cup cooked millet
1 T potato starch
1-2 t curry powder, depending on strength and flavor of the one you’re using
1/2 t cumin seeds, toasted
2 t olive oil
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt
Curried tomato relish (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place it and tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet in the preheated oven, checking the pan every ten minutes to stir the tomatoes and flip the eggplant. After about 20 minutes, the tomatoes should be done—they will be shriveled but still slightly supple (as they cool off, they will extract some additional liquid); carefully remove them from the pan, setting aside half of them if you’re preparing the relish condiment. Return the eggplant to the oven, cooking an additional 25-35 minutes more, until it’s flattened out and very soft. Allow to cool. (The roasted vegetables can be left in the refrigerator overnight or for up to two days at this point.)
To assemble the burgers, peel the eggplant (you should be able to pull it off with your hands; it comes off in strips) and chop it fairly finely (it will turn to mush), and coarsely chop the roasted tomatoes. Combine eggplant and tomatoes with remaining ingredients, adjusting the seasonings if necessary. Add a bit more potato starch if it seems too loose. Using your hands, form into four burgers.
To panfry, heat a tablespoon olive, grapeseed, corn, or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, cooking four to five minutes on each side, until golden-brown and slightly firmed.
Alternatively, bake the burgers in a 375-degree oven on a lightly greased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until browned, crisped on the outside, and slightly firmed in the middle.
Serve with curried tomato relish on toasted buns (spelt or another gluten-free hamburger bun if necessary) and a crunchy, vibrant green such as red-leaf lettuce or tat soi (which is what I had on hand).
Curried Tomato Relish
1 cup roasted tomatoes (see note above)
3 T minced fresh cilantro
2 T finely minced red onion
1/2 t curry powder
1/2 t coriander
Squeeze of lime juice
Finely chop the tomatoes and then combine with remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings.