This burger is vegan and gluten-free and it’s the most delicious of all the burgers I’ve ever made. It’s made from eggplant. That’s right, no beans, no tofu, no TVP. The flavor of this burger is so deep and rich, it’s really amazing. The first time I made them, I topped them with caramelized onions and a simple spread made with mayo, mustard, and vegan, gluten-free Worcestershire sauce. I served them on gluten-free English muffins. But for this post I wanted to recreate Bobby Flay's signature burger, The Crunchburger. This is the “house” burger at Bobby’s Burger Palace. It’s a basic burger that can be garnished with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and horseradish mustard. Then comes the crunch – a big handful of potato chips. Bobby loves the combination of the juicy burger, the oozy cheese, and the salty, crispy chips all in one bite. At BBP, any burger can be “crunchified.” So at my Burger Palace, AKA my kitchen, I challenged Bobby to a throwdown (in spirit) and “crunchified” my eggplant burger to create The Eggplant Crunchburger. It’s big, it’s messy, it’s incredibly delicious. Honestly, I like it better with the simple toppings I originally made. I don’t like masking the rich flavor of the eggplant with mounds of toppings and potato chips but the point is I DID IT! I’m throwing down the cutting board, getting up on the countertop, and raising my arms in victory for Battle Vegan Crunchburger! Enjoy!
Eggplant Crunchburger [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
- A pinch of dried tarragon
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 cup vegan cheese shreds, any flavor
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1 cup vegan cheese, either slices or shreds (as long as it melts)
- 4 gluten-free buns
- 4 slices beefsteak tomato
- 4 leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 slices red onion
- Horseradish Mustard Mayonnaise (recipe above)
- 4 handfuls of potato chips
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and horseradish in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- The sauce can be prepared 1 day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant cubes and sauté until they are browned and very soft, about 10-12 minutes. Make sure they are super-soft because they need to be mashed. You could also roast the eggplant to make it soft.
- Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl. Mash the eggplant up until there are no whole pieces left. I use a potato masher to do this. Once you have a big bowl of mush, add the shallot, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley. Mix it into the eggplant. Add the bread crumbs. Don’t add them all at once; you want to feel the mix and see whether you need a whole cup. I add ½ cup of bread crumbs and mix it.
- The best way to mix it is wet your hands and use one hand (keep the other hand clean) to gently mix the crumbs into the eggplant. You will probably need more crumbs so add another ¼ cup and mix it again. You want the consistency to feel firm, like it will hold up as a burger. If it feels too moist, add the last ¼ cup of bread crumbs. Usually, I end up using the whole cup of crumbs.
- Put the eggplant mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Take the bowl out of the fridge and with your hand, divide the mixture into 4 parts. To form the burgers, I use a 3 ½ inch cookie cutter. I spray it with a bit of cooking oil spray and then pack the eggplant mixture into the cookie cutter. Pat it down, let it sit for about 20 seconds and then gently lift the cookie cutter off. Let your perfect burger sit for a few minutes undisturbed while you make the other 3 burgers.
- In the same skillet that you sautéed the eggplant in (but cleaned), heat the other Tbs. of oil over medium-high heat and add the burgers to the pan. Let cook until slightly browned on one side and (this is very important), you can lift the burger with a spatula without breaking it. I use 2 spatulas to gently turn the burgers. Flip them and let them cook on the other side. When the 2nd side gets golden brown, flip them back over and let the first side cook until golden brown.
- Top the burgers with either 2 slices or ¼ cup of vegan cheese. Add about a Tbs. of water to the pan and cover it. This will create steam and allow the cheese to melt and get ooey-gooey.
- If you want your buns toasty, put on some pants. If you want your burger buns toasty, preheat the broiler while you are cooking the burgers. Split the buns and put the halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and cook them until they are lightly golden brown, about 30 seconds. Don’t burn them!!
- Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and, if desired, top with tomato, lettuce, onion, and a dollop of horseradish mustard mayonnaise. Pile on the potato chips, top with the bun tops, and serve immediately. Make sure you have tons of napkins because it’s going to be messy.