Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spinach-Tofu Burgers

When I created my eighteen before eighteen list a year ago, I presumptuously wrote “going vegan for a whole week” as one of the tasks. Then I looked up the definition of veganism, learned that it meant I wouldn’t even be able to eat honey, and then immediately changed “vegan” to “vegetarian”. I figured that going vegetarian for a week was doable—probably—since I could still consume butter and eggs and cream and cheese.

Even before I start my Vegetarian Week, I can say with utmost certainty that I will never become a vegetarian. Ever. I’m partial to both vegetables and meat, but there is no question that I love T-bone steaks and rack of lamb chops and cedar-smoked salmon just a little more than broccoli. 

My Vegetarian Week started off on a lazy Sunday morning. I ate a bowl of plain yogurt sweetened with raspberry jam, topped with a couple spoonfuls of Homemade Granola. As I sat down to enjoy my vegetarian breakfast, my younger brother Kyle burst into the kitchen and decided that he wanted to fry some bacon. My mouth involuntarily watered.

For lunch, I made Spinach-Tofu Burgers. These patties are actually surprisingly filling and flavourful. I really liked how the spinach-tofu mixture held together really well and browned nicely. The soya sauce, black sesame seeds, and sesame oil paired really well with the blandness of the tofu. Sadly, as much as I like spinach and tofu, they don’t taste as good as beef meatballs. What can I say—I’m an omnivore at heart.

*         *         *

I successfully went a week without consuming meat. Looking back, the only thing that comes to mind is that it was not a fun week. Towards the end of the seven days, I was feeling hungry and restless and fatigued, even after I ate. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I went vegetarian the way I was supposed to (i.e. I made these Spinach-Tofu Burgers and a large pan of spinach, tofu, sesame, butternut squash, chickpea stir-fry, and literally at that for the whole week. I also ate a lot of peanut butter. Surely, a true vegetarian week should encompass more variety than that, but since I was the only one in my family eating vegetarian, it took awhile to finish the Spinach-Tofu Burgers and the stir-fry.

I talked to Heather of Tea With Me, who has attempted vegetarianism and is currently on the paleo diet, about the merits and downfalls of each diet. She mentioned how she never felt completely satisfied with vegetarianism, despite how much she ate. She explained how the paleo diet works (basically, on the diet, you can’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar) and how she feels more energized and has had less cravings. I don’t diet for weight loss purposes, but I would consider trying the paleo diet as a lifestyle change for better health. 

Click below for the recipe.

Spinach-Tofu Burgers

Serves: 4 

  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 block firm tofu, patted dry
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Squeeze out as much water out of the spinach as you can. Transfer to a large bowl.

Pulse the garlic in a food processor a few times until minced.  Transfer to the bowl. Put the tofu in the food processor and pulse a few times until crumbled. Transfer half of the tofu to the bowl and process the remaining tofu until it is smooth. Add it to the bowl along with the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, a sprinkling of salt and lots of pepper.

Stir the mixture until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Form into patties. (I also made meatballs.) Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, slide the patties into the skillet with a spatula.  Cook, without moving until they are nicely browned and easy to move, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the patties and cook on the second side for 3-4 minutes more.  Serve on buns, in pitas, or over rice.


  1. Yum! These look better than the vegan black bean burgers I made earlier. Now I'm going to have to try your recipe!

  2. Good for you for trying it! You take beautiful photos. I am not into tofu and your pics alone make me want to try this burger. Vicky from

  3. I hear you! i love all kind of meats- chicken, beef, lamb and other. Wouldn't be able to make it eating only vegetables. Bet hey, you achieved ur goal and tried something new! You should be proud of yourself :)

  4. This is my kind of burger. I will feel good eating this :D

  5. Mmmm vegans or a week - sounds fabulous :D
    Loving this burger!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. These burgers do look delicious, and I admire the fact that you tried vegetarianism for a week.

  7. Delicious looking and sounding! A wonderful recipe and great combination of ingredients.



  8. These look really great! I haven't seen anything like these before. What a great way to get your spinach in. Will definitely be giving these a try soon. Thanks for sharing. It's always great to find new vegetarian recipes.

  9. These burgers do look pretty awesome, but I know they'll never be a substitute for true beef, too. I eat vegetarian a lot when Andrew is out of town [mostly out of convenience/laziness], and I've found you have to completely reset your mind to your approach to your meal. I love, love, love vegetables, or beans, or grains if they're made in a way that makes them taste good and doesn't leave me regretting the lack of meat. If you spend the entire meal knowing you could have made it better by adding some chicken/beef/lamb, it's no wonder that it leaves you unfulfilled. I do notice that the way I feel full is completely different when it's full on meat or not. The body is so weird. That said, I'm totally not giving up meat. Ever. :D

  10. Very brave, I´d have chosen a vegetarian-fish week, I can´t give up fish, and now, while reading I have in the oven a wonderful leeks and prawns pudding I´ll soon blog, so I don´t think that´s bad for our bodies either......but anyway, congrats for trying and doing it.
    Love from Spain

  11. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I really don't think vegetarianism is for everyone! It really just depends on what satisfies you and if that's being an omnivore, then so be it! I think that's why the idea of meatless mondays is so appealing to so many people...going meatless for ONE day isn't so bad! I'm so glad you liked the burgers!

  12. I think there is nothign wrong with eating meat but make sure you get them from a good source, from people who've raised these animals with love and care. However I do agree that one can do with less emat and more veggies, and I usually have one meatless day in a week too! These burgers look great, I'm glad you didn't sacrifice taste in your veggie quest!

  13. I wouldn't think of going vegetarian either. I love meat and I don't think I could let it go. But from time to time I just need to detox from meat and these burgers sound like the perfect antidote to meat!

  14. I still can't believe I went 7 years without meat! But you're right, looking back, it doesn't feel like we were deprived. :)
    These patties look awesome, btw!!

  15. I am a big believer that no diet works for everyone. But I never thought I'd be vegetarian either...and years later, meat is a very VERY rare treat! (no pun intended)

    In any case, thanks so much for sharing the vegetarian recipe for those of us avoiding meat. =)

  16. This is so healthy and sounds delicious. Japanese makes tofu burger too, but usually with minced chicken, not completely veggie burgers. This looks very nutritious and I love it. In our cuisine we have more veggies % in our meal than meat. I think I feel more comfortable eating more veggies in daily consumption, but I love meat, and we have lots of great meat dishes!

  17. Good for you for giving it a try! To really enjoy being vegetarian, I need to get some variety into my diet. Sometimes when I make a huge batch of something and have to eat it for an entire week I end up going a little crazy. This seems like a great recipe to start with though! And who knows, maybe a little more vegetarian food will sneak its way into your diet after your week trial!

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