Meals Under $15: Eggplant Burgers

Eggplant Burgers

This is the time of year when we are stocking up every bit of produce we can find. I feel like a bear - getting ready for hibernation. Last week I found eggplant on the misfit shelf at the farm, so I came home with 10 small ones, 3 medium ones, and 2 from my CSA share. What in the heck do you do with all that eggplant, you might ask?

Last year, we had over 100 of these little things in our freezer before winter. They lasted us about 3 months before they were gone. They are SO easy to pull out and heat up, and they are always a hit. Rather than chicken nuggets, this is my go to easy meal. Not only do we eat them as burgers, but they are also delicious crumbled up and put on pizza. We used to saute them in olive oil, but this week we were making such a huge batch that we decided to experiment with baking them ... and I have to say I liked them even better!

My hubby and I like to put two burgers on a bun with cheese in between them and top them with ketchup. The girls eat them like a veggie patty and just dip them in ketchup. We made a triple batch this week and it costed us less than $10. Eggplant burgers for everyone!!

Eggplant Burgers
Adapted from Weelicious.com

Ingredients
1 tablespoon Olive Oil ($0.25)
1 medium eggplant or two very small ones, cubed (Cost of this varies. I get mine on the misfit shelf at the farm, so it only costed me $0.50. Most of the time you can get eggplant for $2 or less.)
1 garlic clove, minced ($0.25)
1/2 teaspoon salt (pennies)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried) ($0.25)
1 egg ($0.30)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese ($0.50)
1 cup breadcrumbs (free - we make it from leftover bread!)

Total Cost - $3-8, depending on how much your eggplant costs, whether you top it with cheese and a bun, and what condiments you like on them. 

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a large cookie sheet by rubbing it with olive oil or spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the eggplant and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and cook for 2 more minutes. Add a splash of water (1-2 tablespoons will do), cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. I typically turn the heat off after 3 minutes and let it sit with the cover on a few more minutes to finish steaming. Then I take the top off and put the eggplant in my food processor to sit a few minutes.

Add parsley, egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs to food processor and process until mostly smooth. 

Using 1/4 cup of mixture, form into patties and place on a cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. We like to flip them after the first 10 minutes so they get brown on both sides. Serve with cheese and a bun or just ketchup on the side. Be amazed at how much everyone loves them!

For a Vegan Version
I can't personally vouch for how tasty these are, but several of you have asked me for a good vegan version. I refuse to give up eggs and cheese, so I haven't played around with it ... but theoretically, you could mix 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp of hot water and use in place of the egg and substitute nutritional yeast for the Parmesan cheese. If you try it out, report back and let me know how they are!