Vegetarian Ingredients for a Healthful Burger

by Victoria Cortes,

Personal Chef Victoria Cortes continues her series of recipes served recently to Sally Fallon Morell , author of Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and Dr. Mercola during a dinner party. Each of the recipes served that night will be linked to the original post, Guess Who Came to Dinner? These mushroom cakes were served as a side dish to a meat entree, but it is a wonderful mushroom burger recipe made with whole food ingredients (instead of highly processed soy) for those of a vegetarian persuasion!

Shiitake & Oyster Mushroom Cakes with Truffle Cheese

Yield: 10 patties

These savory mushroom cakes accompanied the herb-roasted rack of lamb I served at the Nourishing Traditions dinner in honor of Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Originally these mushroom cakes were called burgers and they were featured on the Emeril Green show, on which I was member of the culinary crew. We made the mushroom burgers, fixin’s and all, while filming on location at beautiful Claggett Farm, which is part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In order to make the recipe suitable to a Nourishing Traditions dinner, I had to make a few adaptations: I soaked the barley overnight, I used whole wheat panko instead of regular, and I substituted grass-fed ricotta for cottage cheese since I could not find grass-fed cottage cheese on such short notice.


½ cup uncooked pearl barley, soaked at least 7 hours
3 cups homemade vegetable broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound mixed oyster and shiitake mushrooms, minced- about 3 cups
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 cup grassfed ricotta cheese drained?
2 ounces Sottocenere or other truffle cheese, shredded, about 3/4 cup
1 cup whole wheat panko
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1.)    In a small saucepan combine the barley, broth, thyme sprigs and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, remove thyme sprigs and set aside to cool.

2.)    In a 10-inch sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté briefly, about 1 minute. Transfer mushrooms to a medium size bowl, fold in the parsley and thyme leaves and set aside to cool.

3.)    In a large bowl, combine the barley, mushrooms, ricotta, truffle cheese, bread crumbs, egg, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well.

4.)    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on a cast iron griddle pan over medium high heat. Using a 2-ounce portion scoop or ¼ cup measure, portion 4 to 6 mushroom cakes onto the griddle pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then press the cakes lightly to flatten. Cook 1 to 1 ½ minutes longer, until nicely browned. Using a metal spatula, carefully turn the burgers over and cook 2 minutes longer. Set aside on a warm plate and continue in the same manner with the remaining mushroom mixture, using more olive oil as needed.


Victoria (on Right) with Mary Alice, in Hartke kitchen

Victoria Cortes is a personal chef for green minded foodies in the Northern Virginia area. She works with clients with special dietary needs and enjoys introducing them to nourishing traditional food. Visit her website,

This edible post is on the menu for Real Food Wednesday blog carnival. Go to Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more courses!

Looking for good sources for ingredients? Check the Hartke is Online! Resources page!