For A Gluten-Free Burger, Ditch The Buns For Eggplant

Sometimes you've got a hankering for a burger, but you're just not feeling a traditional bun. For some people, it might be about gluten sensitivity or intolerance. For others, it might be about reducing gluten intake for other health reasons or trying to come up with ways to sneak more vegetables onto the plate. Hey, maybe you're just game to try something new. While there are plenty of delicious gluten-free buns on the market, it can be exciting to bring in veggies in place of bread when making classic recipes like burgers. 

While the most common vegetable-based burger bun swap might be the lettuce wrap, it can be messy to eat. Not only that, but cold lettuce might not be the vibe you're hoping for juxtaposed against your hot burger patty. If you're eager for a hot veggie-bun swap, hit the produce stand or aisle. But then fire up the grill, because it's time for eggplant to step into the limelight.

A veggie swap you'll crave

To create an eggplant bun you want to be sure two important factors are in place. Firstly, cut your slices nice and thick so that they won't fall apart after grilling. A little less than an inch thick should be perfect. You'll want to choose a thicker eggplant like American eggplant over a more slender eggplant like Japanese eggplant so that the surface area of the slices matches the surface area of your burger patties. Secondly, season the eggplant well. Once you slice your eggplant, drizzle your favorite cooking oil onto them, and add some seasoning to give them flavor. 

Next, grill them for about three or four minutes on each side. It's perfect to do this while your burgers are cooking. You're looking for grill marks and a softer texture but not too soft (or they'll fall apart when you eat the burger.) Grilling over medium-high heat for three or four minutes on each side of the eggplant times out well if you're cooking beef burgers for a total of seven or eight minutes for a medium pink center. For poultry or pork-based burgers, cook until they reach the designated safe temperature for consuming that type of meat. 

No access to a grill or grill pan? Try using a cast iron pan or a good non-stick skillet for the same duration of time. Top your burgers with your favorite cheese, sauces, and toppings and you'll never miss the bread.