Cookbook Review: Veggie Burger Atelier by Nina Olsson

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I once lived with a roommate whose diet consisted almost entirely of veggie burgers (if she happens to be reading this: Hi, Rachel!). Being firmly in the pro-meat camp, I thought this was crazy. However, I now think she was onto something. I've made my own veggie burgers from scratch, and they are delicious (also very low in fat). I could easily eat them every day.

I would never have thought of writing an entire cookbook on veggie burgers, but now that I've read Veggie Burger Atelier, I'm fully convinced of its necessity. Never mind the silly name and its diminutive size. It is packed with recipes. There are recipes for everything, from the patty itself, to the buns, condiments, and even sides. There are 6-7 different types of burger per chapter, with each chapter representing flavors from a different region of the world. Before every recipe, there is a little blurb from Olsson herself that conjures up some of the flavors and textures that can be expected from each recipe. Olsson quickly establishes herself as not only a veggie burger guru, but also someone with global and far-reaching tastes.

Therein lies the heart of this cookbook's charm. The burgers are creative, fun, and very well-traveled. Like a heavily stamped passport, this cookbook is worldly and exotic, with recipes like Banh Mi Burger, Saffron Freekeh Burger, Nicoise burger, and Berliner Burger featured on its colorful pages. If that's not enough fun for you, there's also a large diversity of topping and condiment recipes to elevate your veggie burger experience, from muhammara to curry ketchup, hoisin sauce to walnut pistou. Even if you never make a veggie burger, you'll find plenty of inspiration with the condiments alone.

Ever wonder what it would be like to eat a sushi-inspired veggie burger? She's made it, right down to the buns made from rice and a wrapper made out of nori. She makes her own buns and adds fun things like charcoal and spirulina to give them some extra color. She makes vegan versions of mayo and feta cream out of cashews. In fact, there are tons of recipes in this book that are vegan, gluten-free, and/or dairy-free. At this point, I'm wondering what Olsson hasn't tried to make?

What makes this book and its recipes work is that Olsson has clearly put a good amount of thought into what makes a veggie burger successful. She breaks down the basic veggie burger into all of its essential components and shares her tricks for how she is able to recreate the taste and texture of meat using such ingredients as lentils, chopped mushrooms, grains, and nutritional yeast. Her approach is smart and easy to understand. I have a whole new respect for veggie burgers after reading her walk-through.

The book itself is gorgeous with an expertly styled, vivid photograph to accompany every recipe (seriously, why don't more cookbooks do this?). The burgers are depicted precariously topped with toppings, looking as indulgent as a greasy Big Mac and much healthier as well. While I'm not quite ready to give up my beef burgers, I bookmarked almost every recipe in this book and can't wait to present them to my meat-eating fiance. Buy this book for anyone who is vegetarian or vegan, or just veg-curious (like me!). They won't be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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