Building the ultimate Luna Burger

Anthony Dominic, Crave

Beef burgers, lamb burgers, bison burgers-you name it, and you can find it in Columbus. These days, the same goes for varying plant- and grain-based burgers, and Columbus-based Luna Burger is leading the charge. What started out as a small-scale catering business for couple Megan and Barbie Luna has turned into a burgeoning company that's now shipping imaginative meat-free patties-like Spicy Peanut Cilantro and Farmhouse Chili-to retailers in nearly 30 states. We tasked the Lunas with building their ultimate Classic Luna burger.

Bonus: Heirloom Cafe chef John Skaggs will serve this burger as a special this season.

Stan Evans Bakery in Grandview bakes fluffy, whole-wheat buns with the same Stutzman Farms spelt berries and oats used in The Classic patty. "We've really tried to hone 20 or so ingredients that we can always push hard to get local from farmers we can connect with," Barbie says.

"I can't eat a burger without some good old yellow mustard on it," Barbie says, "so that just kind of adds a little tangy flair."

Red onion jam is a mixture of caramelized onion, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar, a little honey and rosemary, which amplifies the bitter rosemary notes in the patty.

Thinly sliced shiitake mushroom "bacon" is marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and a little paprika and baked until crispy. "The mushrooms add a smokiness and umami and give [the patty] more of a burger flavor," Barbie says.

Cashews are pureed with a hint of tahini, lemon juice and nutritional yeast to create this zesty mock cheese spread. "It adds a creamy, cheesy element and a richness to the burger," Barbie says. "Plus, it's tasty all on its own."

The patty's secret for remaining intact? Spelt. "It isn't commonly used in veggie burgers, but it is a heirloom wheat grain and has some natural gluten in it, so it's a little sticky," Megan says. "It's that extra little oomph that pulls it together."

The kickers in the 4-ounce Classic patty are beets and blueberries. "We do a fruit in every burger," Megan says. "We're always thinking about good flavor balance. So it's a little bit of sweetness, earthiness and a little acid-and it also boosts the nutritional value."

On menu: How chefs are using Luna burgers

Skillet Rustic. Urban. Food.

Chef Kevin Caskey regularly works Luna burgers onto his daily menu. For breakfast, he serves them as mock breakfast sausage; for lunch, he'll build a burger with a grilled brioche bun, heavy mustard, red onion and local greens.

Philco Bar + Diner

You can swap a Luna burger for a standard 6-ounce meat patty on the Phillip's Burger ($9) on Philco's brunch and dinner menus. The burger's toppers include arugula, grilled onions, spicy mayo, an oven-dried tomato and local cheddar cheese.

The Crest Gastropub

Diners can sub in a Luna patty on any one of The Crest's five burgers. Executive chef Dustin Brafford recommends trying one in place of the lamb burger ($13), with caramelized onions, cucumber, mint, feta and tzatziki yogurt sauce.