Veggie burgers have this mixed reputation among healthy types—mostly because the frozen form almost always falls short of the flavorful burger found in the meat world (and too often contains questionably healthy ingredients). But there are some restaurants proudly pushing the recipe to delicious and artisanal new heights. The signature vegan kale burger from Los Angeles’ latest healthy fast food obsession, Fala Bar, is one such example.
Not only is it delish, it’s far cleaner than your average plant-based slab, too. “One of our slogans is ‘No Fake Sh*t,’ because there’s no seitan, tofu, fillers, or fake cheese,” says Gina Ragnone, who co-opened the 100 percent vegan and organic Fala Bar on Melrose Avenue just over a year ago (a second location recently opened in Venice, and more California locations are already slated for 2016).
While falafel balls were initially the focus of Fala Bar, says Ragnone, “the burgers are actually what really took off—they only came out a few months ago, but now they’re our most popular item.”
The burger has its roots in an age-old falafel recipe, sourced from an Egyptian-Israeli family friend of co-owner Mike Shab. “It was challenging, because she was used to making the recipe by memory,” recalls Ragnone. “Writing down the measurements was her biggest obstacle.”
Then Ragnone, a holistic health coach, tweaked it to create jazzed-up flavors like sweet potato, pumpkin, and kale—and it’s served with an almost healthy Thousand Island dressing. As you can tell by the number of social media tags its dishes have scored, LA is now officially hooked.
Those Fala addicts include carnivores, too. “We have a big meat eater following,” notes Ragnone, who shares the recipe of her signature veggie burger now. “People overthink healthy food; if you use good ingredients, you can keep it simple.” —Erin Magner
Keep reading for Fala Bar’s vegan Kale Burger and Thousand Island dressing recipes….
(Photo: Fala Bar)
Makes 6–7 burgers
2 1/2 lbs. dried garbanzo beans (soaked overnight in filtered water)
1 bunch kale
1 bunch cilantro
2 stalks green onion
1/3 white onion
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp cumin
3 1/2 Tbsp coriander
Juice of 2 squeezed medium-large lemons
6–7 burger buns (or cabbage leaves for a gluten-free option)
1. Rinse the soaked garbanzo beans and finely shred in a food processor. Then, empty the beans into a bowl.
2. Next, add all the remaining ingredients (once washed) into the food processor, ripping them up as you go: kale (minus the stems), cilantro, green onion, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and lemon juice.
3. Add the processed garbanzo bean mixture back into the food processor. Mix all together until evenly combined.
4. Grab a small handful, pat, and smooth out into a burger-sized patty, about a 1/2-inch thick. Do this until the mixture is gone.
5. Heat a non-stick pan on high, add a generous amount of grape seed oil, and place the burger on pan, flipping until cooked through and a bit crispy around the edges.
6. Add falafel patty to a warmed up bun (optional to spread with vegan butter) or a cabbage leaf. Suggested toppings include vegan Thousand Island dressing (recipe below), lemony kale, pickled cabbage, grilled onion rings, and/or avocado slices.
Now, about that vegan Thousand Island dressing…
(Photo: Fala Bar/Facebook)
Makes 32 oz.
1 cup organic ketchup
2 cups vegan mayo, such as Vegenaise
Organic dill pickles (finely chopped)
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
Add everything to a bowl and mix well. Stays well in the refrigerator for two-plus weeks.
Need a milkshake to go with that burger? We’ve got the recipe for an insanely tasty (and healthy) one featuring turmeric!
Fala Bar, 7751 1/2 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90046, 323-424-7131; 1146 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA, 90291, 310-399-0809; falabar.com
(Photo: Fala Bar/Facebook)