Shruti Jain's winning wasabi-spiced aduki bean burger recipe incorporates sesame seeds and a wasabi-avocado dressing. Credit: Natural Gourmet Institute Shruti Jain's winning wasabi-spiced aduki bean burger recipe incorporates sesame seeds and a wasabi-avocado dressing.
Credit: Natural Gourmet Institute

If you’re under the impression that veggie burgers are no more than edible hockey pucks, you’d better think again.

The Natural Gourmet Institute challenged its graduates on Monday to create the best-tasting meatless burger. The contestants had two hours to prepare their burgers, which were inspected for taste, texture, originality and presentation. Judges Mark Rosati, Culinary Development Director of Shake Shack, Peggy Neu, President of the Meatless Monday campaign and Neal Harden, Executive Chef and partner of Pickle Shack ultimately crowned Shruti Jain the winner for her Wasabi Spiced Adzuki Burger.

Check out the recipes for the winning burger, as well as the other two finalists below:


Alyssa Loscalzo's creative concoction utilizes cauliflower as its burger base. Credit: Natural Gourmet Institute Kaitlin Maritato's creative concoction utilizes tempeh as its burger base.
Credit: Natural Gourmet Institute

BBQ Tempeh Temptation Burger (Kaitlin Maritato)

(Smoked tempeh and barbecue sauce burger with cabbage and radish slaw)

Yields: 4 patties


Smoked Tempeh
¾ lb tempeh
1 tbsp adobo sauce from can of chipotle peppers in adobo
3 ½ tbsp shoyu or tamari

BBQ Spice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp garlic
3 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
3 tsp oregano
3 tsp thyme

BBQ Sauce
½ cup bourbon
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp BBQ Spice (note: BBQ Spice recipe above makes more than 1 tbsp. Only use 1 tbsp of the combined mixture)
1 tsp minced garlic
Zest of 1 small lemon
½ cup crushed tomato
1 cup black coffee
1/3 cup molasses
¼ cup red wine vinegar

Burger Assembly/Toppings
4 whole wheat burger buns
4 slices of swiss cheese
1 ½ C Cabbage and Radish Slaw (recipe attached)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Slice the tempeh into 1 to 2 inch pieces

3. Combine the tempeh, adobo and tamari in a medium sauté pan. Add enough water just to cover the tempeh. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from liquid and set aside.

4. Combine all the BBQ spice ingredients in a small bowl and mix together.

5. Bring bourbon to a boil in medium sauté pan. Cook on high until reduced by half.

6. Add remaining BBQ Sauce ingredients to the bourbon. Simmer and whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and sauce thickens slightly; about 5 minutes.

7. Add the smoked tempeh to the BBQ sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

8. While tempeh is cooking, prepare Cabbage and Radish Slaw and Frizzled Onions (recipes attached)

9. Remove tempeh from sauce. Set any remaining sauce aside. Put tempeh in food processor and pulse until ground into a coarse meal. Form into 4 evenly-sized patties.

10. Heat grill/grill pan to high. Place patties on grill and cook for 8-10 minutes each side. If you would like the burger to be a slightly firmer texture after grilling, bake in pre-heated oven for another 5-10 minutes. In the last few minutes of grilling or baking, top each patty with 1 slice of Swiss cheese and allow the cheese to melt.

11. Remove the patties from heat and place on burger buns. Top each burger with 1/3 cup of Cabbage and Radish Slaw and garnish with Frizzled Onions.

Cabbage & Radish Slaw

Yields: 2-3 cups


½ head of a small green cabbage
5 red radishes
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp grated yellow onion
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tbsp mustard powder
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Finely shred the green cabbage and radishes using a food processor or box grater. Mix the cabbage and radishes together in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, onion, honey, vinegar and mustard. Add to the cabbage and radish mixture.

3. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Caramelized Cauli Burgers (Alyssa Loscalzo)

(Cauliflower burger, caramelized onions and creamy burger sauce)

Yields: 4 burgers


4 T. olive oil (divided)
1 head cauliflower (stem and leaves removed)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. capers
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. chickpea miso
1/2 cup cooked brown basmati rice (cooled)
1/2 cup w. wheat breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Wash cauliflower. Place cauliflower on baking pan. Add 1 T. oil, salt and red pepper. Roast cauliflower in preheated oven. Cook for 45-55 minutes. When cooled, cut into florets. Place aside.

3. In a medium sauté pan on medium heat, add 1 T. oil and onion, cook until translucent. Add garlic, when fragrant add, parsley, capers and hot sauce.

4. In a food processor, add miso, rice and bread crumbs. Process for 30 seconds. Add sautéed onion mixture and cauliflower. Process until well blended.

5. Scoop even palm size balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press and even out burgers. Place baking sheet in the freezer to firm burgers for 15 min.

6. In a medium frying pan add 2 T. oil, place burgers in pan, be careful not to crowd the pan. Cook burgers for 3-5 min. on each side or until done. Serve on a warm toasted bun, with caramelized onions and creamy burger sauce.

Caramelized Onions

Yields: Condiment for 4-6 burgers

2 T. canola oil
2 onions (sauté sliced)
1/4 tsp. salt


1. In a sauce pan on med low heat, add oil and onions. Do not sauté onions. Let them sweat and caramelized for 20-25 min. Add salt and stir onions until they have a golden hue.

Creamy Burger Sauce

Yields: Condiment for 4-6 burgers


2 cup soaked raw cashews
1/4 cup water
5 green pimento olives
1 tsp. agave
2 tsp. sweet chili sauce


1. In a blender, add ingredients and blend until smooth. Add more water if desired.

Wasabi Spiced Adzuki Burger (Shruti Jain - winning recipe)

(Adzuki bean burger, caramelized onions, wasabi avocado mousse on a multigrain burger bun)

Yields: 2 burgers


2 cups soaked adzuki beans
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup minced shallots
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp minced green pepper
¼ tsp grounded black pepper
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp sweet tamarind paste
1 cup tomatoes small diced
½ cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup shredded beetroot
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
Sesame seed enough to coat the burger


1. Pressure cook adzuki bean with enough water to cover the beans. It will take 15 – 20 minutes.


1. Place adzuki beans in a small pan with 4 - 5 cups water and cook until soft. This will take 50-60
minutes. Mash the beans.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

3. In a sauté pan, warm the butter and olive oil. Add garlic, shallots and salt and let them sweat.

4. Now add green pepper, rosemary, black pepper, paprika and tamarind paste. Let it cook for 5
more minutes on low flame, then add tomatoes and let the mixture cook for 10 minutes on a
medium flame.

5. Add mashed beans to the onion mixture and remove it from the flame. Let it cool slightly and
then add shredded carrots and beetroot. Taste and add vinegar. Add more salt if needed.

6. Make 2 patties of 3.5-4 oz. each using the mix. Coat it with sesame seeds on both the sides.

7. Brush a baking sheet with oil and bake the patties for 10-20 minutes on each side. Finish grilling
the patties on a grilling pan.

Wasabi-Avocado dressing and caramelized onions


1 large sweet potato, sliced long & thin (like fries)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 ripe avocado
1.5 tsp wasabi powder
1 tsp lemon
1/2 tsp maple syrup
Salt to taste
1 ripe avocado small diced
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup onions thinly sliced
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 sesame multigrain burger buns
1 small head Boston lettuce
1 small tomato
½ Cup micro greens


1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. Toss sweet potato with spices and olive oil and bake it in the oven for 25 minutes until crisp and

3. In a food processor, add one avocado, wasabi powder, maple syrup and salt. Process until
smooth. Add lemon and diced avocado to the mixture.

4. In a pan, add butter, oil and onions and let it sweat. Let it cook till the pan gets brown at the
bottom on a low flame. Add balsamic vinegar and caramelize it.

5. Place a Boston lettuce, tomato and the patty on the base of the bun. Top the patty with caramelized
onion, avocado dressing and micro greens.

Serve with fries on the side.

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