One of the joys of simultaneously being a substitute teacher and a grad student is that I get two spring breaks–one from my classes and one from teaching. Granted, while I’d rather be earning some money, the break from work gives me the perfect excuse to do something fun with my time (something I failed to do while on spring break from graduate school). So tomorrow I’m headed south to Atlanta!

I haven’t been to Atlanta since Thanksgiving, so I’m super stoked to meet up with friends, eat great food (Soul Veg, Green Sprout, Holeman & Finch, here I come), drink at my favorite bars (a pint at The Marlay, a glass of wine at Carroll Street Cafe? Don’t mind if I do), watch some cycling on tv (Tour of Flanders is on Sunday), and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather at my favorite parks (Grant Park, Lullwater, Fernbank Forest). I’ll also be heading over to my brother and sister-in-law’s place to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday, and, at some point, I have to remember to keep running in order to stay somewhat on track for the triathlon in just one month (May 1). Thanks to Sara’s post on Vibram’s FiveFinger shoes, I think I’m going to use my REI 20% off coupon and my giftcard from Christmas to pick up a pair of the Sprints to run in–anyone use fingershoes, have any tips/suggestions?

Whew, it’s going to be an amazing-exhausting weekend. But I cannot wait, so excited!

And since I’ve tuckered myself out just thinking about the next four or five days, how about a sandwich?

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a veggie burger–mostly because I think they’re all pretty much the same. I mean, they’re not, but they are? Beans + breading + spices + some veggies is the formula for most. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great formula, but it’s not exactly the most blog-friendly or exciting formula ever. But when Barbara posted a recipe for some eggplant tofu meatballs, I knew I had to make them, with a vegan twist!

I already had some eggplant that was about to go bad and a block of tofu in my fridge, and, since flaxseed acts as an egg replacer, I knew the burgers would hold together nicely. The only trick was to play with the spices and other seasoning components to get it right. While these aren’t gluten-free as is, the other day I found rice bread crumbs at the Asian grocery store and I think they’d be a great substitute for regular breadcrumbs. As for the texture, well, they are a little mushy, but that’s due to the tofu–if you freeze the tofu beforehand and then crumble it in, the texture will be a bit more meaty. Otherwise, the flavor of these is great and, personally, I don’t mind the texture at all. My favorite way to cook them is to defrost/cook them in my George Foreman Grill and then toss them in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil and fry them crispy on the outside. Served on a sweet potato roll with sauted garlicky kale and veganaise, these little burgers are just plain delicious.

Also, don’t forget to check out Meghan’s new tutorial on everyday superfoods–and if you blog about it today or email her, you might be able to win a free copy of it!

Eggplant Tofu Burgers

adapted from Barbara of Dish n’ That

olive oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp smoky paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 lb firm tofu
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce/Braggs Amino Acid
1 1/2 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water to make a flax egg
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs/rice bread crumbs (available at Asian grocery stores)–you will need more or less depending on how wet your mixture is

Saute the eggplant in a skillet over medium-low heat in 1-2 tbsp olive oil for 10-12 minutes, until browned. Set aside.

In another skillet (or in the same, without the eggplant in it), saute the onion and carrots in 1 tbsp olive oil for 7-10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute more, until fragrant. Add the herbs and spices and saute for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

After the eggplant and the onion mixture have cooled, in a large bowl, combine the eggplant and onion mixture. Crumble in the tofu. Add the tomato paste and soy sauce/Bragg’s. Add the flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add the nutritional yeast. Mix in the breadcrumbs, using more or less, until you can form individual patties.

Form patties and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, grill on a George Foreman (or regular grill), or brown in oil on the stove. Individually wrap the remaining burgers in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag in the freezer for future use.

Makes 14-16 medium-sized burgers.

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