Sunday, June 26, 2011

Asherah's Gourmet Gluten-free Vegan Burger

Even though I advocate eating fresh whole foods, there are times when this busy chef is in a hurry and doesn't feel like cooking an entire meal, so I'm always on the lookout for new convenience foods that are vegan and gluten-free.  I had heard about a frozen burger made by Asherah's Gourmet that was both, and when I saw it at Whole Foods after a soul-sucking day of running errands in the rain, I decided to pick up a package and give it a try.  

This was an expensive endeavor.  At $9.99, that came to $2.50 for each of the four frozen patties, so I was expecting greatness for the investment.  The burgers are made with all organic ingredients, with quinoa, sweet potato and coconut flour being at the top.  This sounded like a perfect savory-sweet combination, with a little bit of richness thrown in to make it feel substantial.  The box promised "A taste good enough to live for," which convinced me to take the pricey plunge.

So I microwaved a patty.  And then I tasted it after it heated for 3 minutes.  In retrospect, I should've taken a photo, because what came out of the microwave was pretty much a circular pile of quinoa mush. It seems the only thing holding it together were the ice crystals.  As for taste, it was pretty much like mushy quinoa.  Not what I wanted for dinner.

Somewhat disappointed and frustrated yet nonetheless undeterred, I set out to augment this lackluster patty into something edible.  I had a big bunch of basil in my fridge which made for a quick pesto.  And I had some mushrooms that I decided to saute.  I made a bed of a slice of gluten-free bread and dressed some fresh garden greens with a simple Dijon vinaigrette on the side.  This managed to come together into something quite elegant, and the final detail of a squeeze of Sriracha sauce actually transformed the meal from mundane to mmmm... good.

For future reference, I'd recommend saving your money and spending 15 minutes or so to cook some quinoa, then dress it with the accoutrements as I have done here.  All in all, it took about 30 minutes to pull this together, which was about 27 minutes longer than I had intended to take preparing dinner.  But as a challenge to spark my creativity, it was worth it.  


Asherah said...

Thanks for trying our vegan burger. We have to say we were very sad when we read your review as we don't understand why as a vegan chef you microwaved them and then based your entire evaluation on what happens to them in a microwave oven. The preferred way of preparing is to saute them as you did the other foods you combined the burger with. Some people only have access to a microwave at work and we have cooked them in this way to see what happens and never ended up with a big blob. People use them on the grill also so they do hold together well. The staff at some of the Whole Foods have used them for their company barbeque. Also you make no mention of all the nutrition packed into them. To create the recipe we followed the requests of the mothers in my vegan cooking classes who did not want a hockey puck or the typical ingredients that most veggie burgers on the market contain like hexane (a neurotoxin) laced soy protein isolate or gluten. The majority of the cost of the product is in the 100% organic ingredients and that they are not mass produced. There are no GMO's as in some of the other veggie burgers on the market and they are certified gluten free. We are a small start up company and don't have a marketing or advertising or other type of departments so all the money goes into the cost of the ingredients. Another large expense these days is the cost of transportation with the price of oil. Also they are a full quarter lb, not the small patties like most other burgers and if you compare the cost oz for oz we are actually less costly then some of the other smaller burgers. We also have the lowest salt content by far of any veggie burger on the market and you get 110% of your Vit A daily needs from 1 burger. No other product comes close to that. When evaluating our product, please do it justice by looking at the total picture of it rather then what happens to it in a microwave oven which in our opinion destroys any food put into it and should only be used as a last resort.
Whole Foods loves our product so much and they are getting such a great response to it from customers that they are putting it nationwide this year.

Mary Lawrence said...

I appreciate that your company is producing a product that is gluten-free, vegan, and organic, and I'm glad that Whole Foods carries it and people like it. On the day I tried it, I was in a rush and looking for a quick, convenient meal. I typically don't eat convenience foods such as frozen veggie burgers and only do so when my time is limited. My main complaint was that I had to augment the patty and the extra time it took to do so could have been spent creating the entire meal from scratch. As a chef, I tend to be more critical of food than the average consumer, and if something is less than awesome in my opinion, I have to be honest about it. The next time I try your vegan burger I will saute it in a pan, as you recommend. Perhaps the instructions on the box should indicate that this is the preferred cooking method, and that the texture of the patty will be different when microwaved?

Asherah Aentara said...

We wanted to let you know that we were just nominated by the Vegetarian Times for their Foodie Awards for best veggie burger. People have until May 31 to vote for us., go to veggie burgers, click on Asherah's, go to bottom of page and hit submit.