The perfect veggie burger for summer, these eggplant zucchini veggie burgers with basil aioli use the best of seasonal produce! Just add juicy, ripe tomatoes and avocado!
In middle school, I had a brief flirtation with vegetarianism. I would love to tell you I was enlightened to the health benefits of a plant based diet. Or that I was aware of the environmental impact of our population’s excessive meat consumption. Or even that I found eating cute, furry animals morally wrong. But no. I became a vegetarian because my best friend was a vegetarian. Yep, I was that much into being just like my best friend that I gave up an entire food group. Good thing she didn't experiment with illicit substances or get a tattoo.
If there was an award for worst vegetarian, it would have been awarded to yours truly. First of all, I wasn’t actually a vegetarian. At night I would sneak into the kitchen and pick at leftover bits of sesame chicken and spoonfuls of meat sauce. The portion of my diet that was actually vegetarian consisted of pasta, cheese, pizza, and sweets. Of course, now, being more enlightened about intuitive eating and how restriction often leads to just eating more of the thing you're trying to restrict, it all makes sense. But at the time, I felt really bad for not being able to stick to vegetarianism.
Homemade Veggie Burgers:
One of the foods I ate most when I was a vegetarian were frozen veggie burgers. It was so easy for my parents when they had no clue what to feed their vegetarian daughter! But now as an adult with a little more refined tastebuds, I usually like to make my own. Especially because I like to actually taste veggies in my burger instead of a weird, salty hockey puck! Although I should say, veggie burgers taste much better these days than they did in the late 90s!
While homemade veggie burgers, like these eggplant zucchini veggie burgers do take a bit more time than a quick zap in the microwave, they make up for it in flavor and nutrition. To make these homemade burgers, all you have to do is saute the eggplant and zucchini to get caramelized flavor and remove some of the liquid. Then mash it all together, add panko breadcrumbs and egg for binding, and pan fry in a skillet.
I love that this eggplant zucchini veggie burger has an emphasis on the veggies! It’s a great way to highlight seasonal summer produce. If you’ve got a garden, eggplant and zucchini are some of the easiest to grow. You can even work in basil from your garden.
What I love about using eggplant as a base in this eggplant zucchini veggie burger is that eggplant almost has a meaty flavor to it. It’s one of my favorite vegetables to use in vegetarian mains, like my vegetarian lasagna with eggplant and mushroom meat sauce.
How to freeze:
If you’re going to put the effort into making these eggplant zucchini veggie burgers, you might as well double up the recipe and freeze some for later! It’s really easy to do, just stack them in a zip top back or freezer friendly container with a bit of wax or parchment paper between each one. That way you can pull out just one or two at a time depending on what you need.
I usually serve these eggplant zucchini veggie burgers on a whole grain hamburger bun, or toasted ciabatta. They also make a great open faced sandwich over a square of toasted focaccia, like my easy no-knead focaccia.
I like to pair this recipe with an easy side salad - pictured here is a simple salad kit, but they’d also be great with my dark cherry and crispy prosciutto salad, melon and mint salad, or fig and prosciutto salad to highlight even more summer produce. Since these burgers are a bit light on protein, you could also pair it with a bean based side salad my like roasted tomato and cannellini bean salad for protein.
Eggplant Zucchini Veggie Burger with Basil Aioli
Adapted from Love & Olive Oil.
1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, grated on the large holes of a cheese grater
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
1/2 cup mayo
1/3 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 100% whole grain hamburger buns, toasted
1 avocado, sliced
Toss eggplant with a generous sprinkle of salt and let sit in a colander for 20-30 minutes to remove some of the water. Blot dry with a paper towel.
Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a clean kitchen towel, wrap up and twist to squeeze out some water.
Heat tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add eggplant and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes total.
Add sauteed eggplant to a large bowl with drained zucchini, panko and egg. Mash together with a potato masher. Form mixture into 6 balls.
Wipe skillet clean and pour in enough oil to cover. Set to medium-high heat. Add the veggie burgers and press down lightly with the back of a spatula to flatten slightly. Fry about 5 minutes per side.
While burgers are frying, make the basil aioli. Blend basil, mayo, and garlic in a food processor until creamy, scraping down sides if needed.
Assemble the burgers in the bun with avocado, tomato slices, microgreens and basil aioli.