I’ve always loved the idea of veggie burgers as easy from-the-freezer meals but dislike the standard brands. Most are like frozen pizzas: a couple of bites satisfy a craving, but I lose interest by the meal’s end, even when topped with fresh guacamole. My homemade veggie burgers, like pizza from scratch, are full of flavor but have always fallen apart when reheated—until now.
Several things make this week’s recipe work. Precooking the vegetables and draining them helps; if added raw, they release their water content as they cook and loosen the patties. But no amount of draining makes it possible to skip the binders, as with falafel. Most recipes call for an excessive blend of whole grains and flours that still leave the patties crumbly or gummy. Grinding all grains to meal gives the right texture and adhesion. The third factor is tightly shaping the patties. A wide-mouth canning ring is perfect; the burgers are the right size for buns, and uniform edges and surfaces are less likely to crack and crumble.
Black Bean Veggie Burgers
2 large cloves Roasted Garlic, minced
1/2 cup grilled onion, minced
1/2 cup grilled bell pepper, minced
3/4 cup grilled mushrooms, minced
2 eggs, beaten
4 teaspoons dried parsley, crumbled
4 teaspoons dried cilantro, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tamari, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Panko or other bread crumbs
In a large mixing bowl, mash the beans with a potato masher until they form a paste and just a few beans remain broken or whole. Drain any liquid from the grilled vegetables; fully defrost any that were frozen, and then squeeze with your hands to remove excess water. Add the vegetables to the beans, along with the beaten egg, and stir to combine. Stir in the minced herbs, ground spices, and tamari until thoroughly combined; season with pepper to taste.
Add the lightly toasted sunflower seeds to a small food processor and pulse half a dozen times to chop them coarsely; pour the seeds into the bean mixture. Repeat the processing with the rolled oats and bread crumbs but with a longer chopping time, processing until each forms a coarse meal before adding it to the beans. Stir until the mixture comes together. If it is too wet to hold its shape when squeezed in your hand, add another tablespoon or so of ground oats. Let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Shape the bean mixture into 8 patties, packing each tightly into a wide-mouth canning ring and smoothing the surface so that it sticks together when the ring is lifted. Place each patty onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 30–35 minutes, flipping the patties halfway through the baking time, until firm and golden. Serve immediately, or cool the patties on a rack to room temperature before refrigerating them for up to 3 days or freezing them in zip-close freezer bags for a couple of months. Makes 8 burgers.
Tips & Tricks
- Pot beans are a natural fit here: You’ll have plenty for immediate meals even if you turn a couple of cups into these burgers for later dinners. Other cooked beans can be substituted. If they’re sitting in liquid, drain it off.
- Midwinter, you can make this recipe with produce you grilled and froze or dried while in season. In summer, make these burgers with freshly grilled vegetables and three times the amount of fresh herbs. The vegetables can also be sautéed until they soften and release liquid.
- I serve these burgers on egg-rich, brioche-style Sourdough Buns, so I don’t mind using some farm-fresh eggs and bread crumbs in the patties. For vegan eaters, replace the egg with a flax or chia egg, made by mixing the seeds with a bit of water and letting them sit until gelatinous.
- If you’re on a gluten-free diet, certified gluten-free tamari, bread crumbs, and oats are ready substitutes. Skip the buns and serve slathered with Spiked Guacamole (see below) over greens.
- When freshly made, these patties can be cooked in an oiled frying pan or over a grill. But as with Raw-Chickpea Falafel, I’ve found baking best before freezing black bean burgers. Defrost and reheat by baking, pan-frying, or grilling for a few minutes per side.
Twice as Tasty
Part of the fun of burgers is in the toppings. My standbys are staples in my kitchen: homemade mustard, Green Tomato Chutney or a savory jam or relish, Lemon Cheese or home-smoked sharp cheddar, and of course a side of pickles. But every serving can be unique, and the spread of burger toppings grows with the size of the party.
In summer, I mound on the fresh vegetables, but in winter I usually make due with homegrown radish sprouts and perhaps some salsa. When I want a treat, I grab some avocados and whip together guacamole. This too has many variations, but my favorite flavors combine creamy avocado with mellow grilled and roasted alliums, a dash of smoky heat, and a splash of tequila. Don’t skimp on liquor quality here; just a little gives a lot of flavor. I’m a fan of Casamigos reposado.
2 cloves Roasted Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dried cilantro, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried dill, crumbled
4 ripe avocados
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1-1/2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon Home-Smoked Chili Paste or smoked paprika
Cut up the onion and garlic, sprinkling them with the salt. Halve, peel, and pit the avocados. Place the avocado flesh in a mixing bowl; mash with a fork until creamy or the desired texture. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Serve immediately. Makes about 3 cups.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re making guac and Black Bean Veggie Burgers at the same time, you can streamline your prep by mincing the garlic and onion for both recipes and premixing the herbs and spices.
- I love the mellow flavor of roasted and grilled vegetables with the avocado, but they will darken the guacamole slightly. For a crisp, bright look, use fresh onion and garlic in half the quantities—and eat quickly.
- This recipe can be simplified to, say, avocado, onions, cilantro, and chili. Or you can build it up with well-drained diced tomatoes, sliced scallions, and other flavors. In summer, go for fresh herbs. The tequila is optional; you may want a dash more lime juice if you leave it out.
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