Moosewood Restaurant's Famous, Classic Tofu Burgers

When I moved to Ithaca I followed my nose to Moosewood Restaurant, the iconic restaurant that revolutionized vegetarian cuisine across the country. For locals, it was a matter of stopping in for a meal. For vegetarians flung afar, it became a necessity to collect Moosewood Restaurant's cookbooks as they came out. The most recent 40th Anniversary Moosewood Restaurant Favorites is a staple on any cook's bookshelf, vegetarian and omnivore alike. This compendium of creative, plant-based dishes will inspire you, starting with a perfect creation for Labor Day Weekend - the Classic Tofu Burger (recipe below). 

As part of our Big Giveaway (ending in JUST 3 DAYS on September 1st), Moosewood Restaurant is including a signed copy of the book, a market tote bag and a "Dinner for Two" gift certificate (valued at $80)... alongside an amazing package of other Finger Lakes gifts and experiences. 

Moosewood's Classic Tofu Burger

Yields: 8 burgers

Note: Tofu burgers have been a favorite at the restaurant since we can remember ... Because of the increase in the number of our customers who are either gluten intolerant or trying to reduce their consumption of wheat, we've developed ways to make our various kinds of tofu burgers without the bread crumbs we used to use in our published recipes and in the restaurant. Dicing the vegetables small, finely grating the tofu in a food processor, and grinding the walnuts all help to make a mix that will hold its shape.

Two 14- to 16-ounce blocks firm tofu

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups diced onions

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup grated carrots

1⁄2 cup seeded and diced bell peppers (any color)

1 cup coarsely ground toasted walnuts

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1⁄4 cup tahini

1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. First press the tofu for at least 30 minutes.

2. While the tofu presses, prepare the rest of the burger mix, and when you're ready to grate the tofu, discard the expressed liquid.

3. In a covered skillet on low heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, sprinkle with the salt and oregano, and cook on low heat for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and bell peppers and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.

4. Finely grate the pressed tofu in a food processor and add it to the bowl of cooked vegetables along with the walnuts, soy sauce, mustard, sesame oil, tahini, pepper, and basil. Mix well and add more soy sauce to taste.

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

6. Using about a cup per burger, shape the mix into 8 burgers. Set the burgers on the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

More notes:

The burgers will be a little sturdier if you use bread crumbs, about 2⁄3 cup for this recipe, especially if the tofu you use is soft. Gluten-free bread and bread crumbs are available, so if you're avoiding wheat and gluten you have that option.

To freeze these burgers, simply wrap cooled, baked burgers in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. To reheat, bake on an oiled baking sheet, right from the freezer, at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through -- the time will depend on how fat your burgers are.