8797 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla;
12873 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley
Nearly 40 million tons of food—about the weight of 104 Empire State Buildings—gets trashed in the US alone every year. To do their part, Mendocino Farms and Pressed Juicery have joined forces on a vegan burger made from upcycled vegetable pulp left over from cold-pressing juices. The Rescued Vegetable Burger, available at Mendocino’s La Jolla and Carmel Valley locations through the end of the month, will put to use 300–500 pounds of pulp each week from the Westfield UTC juice shop. Here, we break down each layer of the plant-based burger, from bun to beet sauce.
"The vegan bun was the hardest component to develop," says Mendocino chef Jeremy Bringardner. "We wanted a classic brioche bun, but there’s no great substitute for egg." He’s not spilling his recipe secrets but does say applesauce and pear puree factor in to achieve the flavor without the cholesterol.
Vegan cheeses are often made from tofu or nuts; after taste-testing, they went with Chao Creamery’s tomato-cayenne tofu iteration, which has the melty, gooey texture they wanted. It’s the only sandwich on the menu with this cheese, but you can sub it into any ’wich.
Where’s the beef? Not in this patty. The vegetable-pulp-based core contains beets, carrots, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and turmeric. Mendocino then adds onions, shiitake mushrooms, and brown rice, plus gluten-free tamari and nutritional yeast for umami.
For that crunch, they add butter lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion from Scarborough Farms, a family operation out of Oxnard, as well as crisp, house-made bread-and-butter pickles.
That special sauce is Mendocino’s house-made vegan Thousand Island with pureed beets. "Adding it to the sauce helped draw out the nuances of the rescued beets in the patty and gives it a vibrant magenta color," Bringardner says.