Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 12, 2011

Walnut Squareburgers

Usually there’s some reluctance associated with retro recipe attempts. You see a bizarre photograph of something that’s theoretically edible — or, worse, you see a hand-drawn sketch, which should serve as strong warning that photography would have accurately shown “food” that would send any sensible cook running in the opposite direction. If you survive the imagery, you read through a list of ingredients with increasing disbelief (they’re adding that? oh no…) and yet still go shopping, cook it all, and eat it.

But this week, Buzz was extremely enthusiastic about his recipe pick.

“I want to make Walnut Squareburgers!”

“You want to make what?”

“I want to make Walnut Squareburgers!”

Why? It inverts the sandwich concept — instead of greasy meat filling surrounded by absorbent bread, you’re putting meat around bread, guaranteeing a sloppy mess!”

“I want to make Walnut Squareburgers!”

Righto. We’re making Walnut Squareburgers.


One pound of meat — plus a hearty Diamond Walnut stuffing — satisfies 6 husky appetites!

Mix 1 lb. ground beef, 3/4 cup grated raw potato, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1-1/4 tsps. salt, dash of pepper. Set aside and make stuffing: Mix 3 cups soft bread cubes, 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt. Add 1/2 cup hot milk and 2 tbsps. bacon drippings. Stir in one egg, slightly beaten. Let stand a few minutes to soften, the add 1/2 cup diced celery, 1/4 cup chopped onion — and 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Diamond Walnuts for nourishing protein plus satisfying crunchy texture! Pat out half of meat in bottom of greased 8 x 8 x 2″ pan; cover with stuffing; top with remaining meat. Bake in moderate oven (325°) about 45 min. Cut in squares. Serve with your favorite Walnut Waldorf Salad — and you have a delicious, low-cost meal for 6!

I have literally no idea how this is going to taste. (I don’t expect it will be good.)

It’s an odd combination of ingredients, certainly.

The interior is really just stuffing, with bread cubes, spices, and some liquids.  We used Captain John Derst’s Good Old Fashioned Bread.  They use flour from the local mill downtown (although one can’t be certain where the flour for any given individual loaf came from).  It’s quite tasty for sandwiches and cooking.

There wasn’t too much liquid in the stuffing mixture.  The amount of milk was quite modest, and then just this little bit of bacon grease.

With the egg, it was still only barely moist, not soggy by any means, even after it sat for a few minutes.

This is what it looked like after the crunchy bits (onions, nuts, and celery).  Then it was time to move on to the meat layers.

To get the required 3/4 cup of potato shavings required grating two medium spuds.

There was no guidance as to how finely the parsley ought to be chopped, so I made it fairly coarse.  However, a finer chop might have been better.

After mixing the potato, parsley, spices, and meat (ground chuck, 20% fat in this case) together, it was time to assemble the inside-out burger.

Here it is with the first two layers in the pan:  half the meat, covered by the bread cubes.

Then I topped it off with another layer of the meat mixture.

It baked, and the meat changed color, as it is wont to do when cooked.  It looked like they put pimento on it in the picture, so we put some on ours before separating it into six square servings.

The kids, oddly, didn’t like it, although they pulled it apart to pick out the walnuts and meat. But this was good! It was basically thin meat layers with a thick stuffing interior, and it tasted like you might imagine Thanksgiving would, if you imagine the pilgrims eating a cow instead of the customary turkey. The interior filling absorbed much of the greasiness I anticipated — meaning we probably could have left out the bacon drippings, even though vintage recipes really love their bacon drippings.

Image comes from Curly Wurly’s Flickr stream — and if you enjoy retro recipe weirdness, you will probably enjoy the Curly Wurly blog, which often features frightening crafts, fashion, and food of days gone by.


  1. It’s a traditional vegetarian trick to use nutmeats to create a faux potroast-y kind of thing, but I would not have thought walnuts first thing — cashews, perhaps, since they’re fattiest. Maybe the kids would have eaten it with finely chopped nuts — no matter what any recipe says, I always practically puree them, because a crunchy texture in otherwise mushy meat/potatoes does NOTHING for me.

    • Looks old fashioned, labor intensive, and pretty darn tasty.

      I once had a recipe from England for a nut loaf, like a meat loaf, using scads of all kinds of finely chopped nuts – cashews and walnuts – and lost it. Wouldn’t mind trying that, as I’m a nut for teh nuts.

      • This is one my friend Rachel passed along to me – the version I’ve made is a bit modified, but Rachel’s, which is made straight from the recipe, is quite tasty, too:

        Mushroom and cashew nut terrine

        Prep time: 20 minutes
        Cook time: 45 minutes
        Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices

        You may also use walnuts, almonds or a combination of your favorite nuts.
        * Ingredients:

        2 tablespoons olive oil
        1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
        3 cloves garlic, minced
        4 large eggs
        1 cup cooked white rice
        1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews, finely chopped (use a food processor)
        1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (use a food processor)
        1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
        1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
        1 cup wheat germ
        A pinch of cayenne (optional)
        1/2 teaspoon sea salt
        1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

        * Instructions:

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onions in olive oil until tender (4 to 5 minutes) and then add in garlic and cook until fragrant. Cool before adding to recipe. In a large bowl whisk eggs well. Add cooked rice, cashews, mushrooms, cheese, parsley and wheat germ, cooled onions and garlic, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until tops are golden brown and loaf is firm. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite mushroom gravy, if desired.

  2. Anon, try searching “vegetarian nut loaf” or “vegetarian meat loaf” and you will find lots of recipes as you describe.

    Looking at the ingredients on this one made me cringe a little. Although if you replaced the stuffing with something like a potato kugel sort of thing I would be more tempted.

    You are brave souls indeed.

    • Not so brave. Honest, it’s not bad!

  3. This is pretty close to a Beef Lindstrom in that it is ground beef mixed with potato and other assorted ingredients, sounds really gross, and ends up being pretty tasty. See:

    I would totally eat a walnut squareburger.

  4. […] mention of nut loaves in the Walnut Squareburger comments was surprisingly timely. Last week, Sarah Lohman (who makes “historic gastronomy” her […]

  5. Thanks for the nutburger recipe, it sounds close to the one in that little clipping I lost so many years ago.

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