Friday, August 10, 2007

The Best Vegetarian Burgers on the Planet

Walnut Balls at the Trempealeau HotelVegetarian walnut balls at the Trempealeau Hotel

Frequent readers of Erin's Kitchen know my (negative) opinion of fake meat. The worst fake meat of them all? The veggie burger that tries to imitate a beef burger. If you've ever tasted a Boca Burger, you know what I mean. Since a juicy, medium-rare hunk of ground beef is inimitable, the soy stand-ins resemble the wan, dry "Grade D but Edible" patties of my middle school cafeteria.

However, veggie burgers that taste like veggies (or other non-meat ingredients)? Love them!! Morningstar Farms Black Bean Chipotle patties? Yum. My sister's falafel-like discs? I gobble them up.

Therefore, the best veggie burger in the world? It's a walnut burger, found at the Trempealeau Hotel in Trempealeau, WI and I've eaten them since my childhood. They aren't vegan--they're stuffed with cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, tamari and walnuts of course. Rich in flavor, extremely moist--they're vegetarian cooking at its best--instead of attempting to replicate a meat dish, these burgers are a delicacy unto themselves.

At the restaurant, they're served as burgers, and also as "walnut balls"--as an appetizer, in an Italian sandwich, and over spaghetti. You can order the patties frozen online, four patties for $7.40.

The Trempealeau Hotel
150 Main Street
Trempealeau, WI 54661
(608) 534-6898


Kalyn said...

They look tasty. I'm watching with interest as you make your way to New York, lucky girl! I'd love to move there (but only if I was as young as you are!)

Hillary (of Chew on That) said...

Walnut balls - how interesting! Looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing :)

cookiecrumb said...

Adorable. And I wouldn't call them burgers. I'd call them... Walnut Balls!

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Will try this out at home.

Erin S. said...

everyone--yes, they're fantastic--so good, in fact, that my vegetarian sister is planning to serve them at her upcoming wedding.

charlotte--i imagine they'd be fairly easy to make--let me know how they turn out!

Petra said...

Hello from a random stranger on the internet.....I have a recipe that sounds like almost the exact same thing as these Walnut Burgers, if you are interested......petrawoods - at- yahoo

kestrel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kestrel said...

wow! it's wonderful to hear from such a walnut burger advocate! now - what do you think is needed to jump-start sales online? -- i grew up at the hotel with the walnut burger and we love it, but we don't understand why it doesn't sell online. i am certain your blog is a helper for anyone who surfs past it. but, do you have any ideas being that you are out on the east coast now. how do we spread the word? thanks for the great support, by the way! we are open to input -- contact us at :)

Anonymous said...

Hi it's Petra again ~ I have gotten a few emails asking for my recipe, so here it is!
My recipe is called "Fantasy Meatballs" and is from this book: Book: "Company's Coming - Meatless Cooking" by Jean PareI also attached a photo I took of the picture of this recipe from the cookbook.Below the recipe, I have added my own shortcuts and a variation I have used. Enjoy!

Fantasy Meatballs (meatless)
5 large eggs
1 cup creamed cottage cheese
1 tsp sweet dried basil
¾ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¾ cup chopped onion
1 cup grated mozzerella cheese
2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 cup ground walnuts
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 ¼ tsp. poultry seasoning

7.5 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup water
½ tsp. granulated sugar

Beat eggs in mixing bowl until smooth. Add cottage cheese, basil,salt and pepper. Beat to mix.

Add next 6 ingredients. Stir. Let stand 10 min. shape into 1 ½ inch balls and arrange in an ungreased 9x13 inch pan in single layer.

Stir tomato sauce, water and sugar together in small bowl. Pour over balls. Bake, uncovered, in 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Makes about 3 dozen; serves 8.

1 serving contains: 313 calories; 14.4 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 2 grams fiber.

My own shortcuts:

Instead of plain breadcrumbs, I buy the "Italian Seasoned" breadcrumbs in the supermarket and then I leave out the spices in the recipe, since the seasoned breadcrumbs contain plenty of spices already. Also, I just use 1 whole (chopped) medium onion, rather than measuring ¾ cup. And lastly, instead of using the sauce in the recipe, I take a shortcut and use store-bought marinara sauce. The recipe is still excellent with those changes.

Hors D'oeurves variation:

I once used the recipe (minus the sauce) as a filling for mushroom caps. I chopped the mushroom stems and added them to the filling. Then, I filled the caps with the raw filling and baked them in the oven as specified. Finally, I topped each one with a small dollop of sour cream. Delicious!

cc said...

do not try these they are 1 word...NASTY

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your "nasty" comment (how rude, BTW). I tried this recipe and I love it. They turn out great every time I make them.

Lara said...

I lived in Trempealeau for a year, and then nearby for 2, and the one thing I miss is walnut burgers!! They are fabulous, as are the walnut balls. If you ever get in that area of Wisconsin, you need to go there!

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Erin Sikkink said...

OMG i love walnut burgers so much! sometimes i still buy walnut burgers in the twin cities frozen. i really miss living in winona and driving over the bridge to trempealeau for walnut burgers and walnut balls. i JUST discovered this blog right now! how hilarious that YOUR name is Erin and MY name is ERIN! we should hang out and cook sometime! Yummy in my tummy!