Veggie Might: Veggie Burgers (A Mighty Good Recipe)

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Hey y’all, happy new decade. Hope your holidays were dreamy and golden.

So, it’s been awhile. Whatcha been doin’? I’ve been eating homemade veggie burgers almost every day since the beginning of 2010. I made a big batch on New Year’s Eve (because I know how to party) and about half is still stashed in the freezer.

As you may recall, I have a love/hate relationship with veggie burgers, especially in restaurants. A chef or restaurant owner who only deigns to nuke a frozen patty for vegetarian customers can’t think too much of us; and the feeling is mutual.

But at home, a veggie burger can be a quick and easy comfort food/guilty pleasure. (They’re not bad for you. They’re just expensive/processed, and I rarely buy them.)

My favorites have always been the bean/rice varieties; I rarely pursue realism when seeking fake meat. So when I found Mark Bittman’s bean and oat burger recipe, deep within How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I got happy.

This is a perfect pantry-busting recipe. It’s made from staples most vegetarians have on hand: beans, oats, rice, onion, garlic, spices. And, with canned beans, it’s fast. Otherwise, it just takes a bit of advanced prep. I’ve made it with dried/soaked beans and with canned beans and it works great either way.

My version is the Bittman recipe quadrupled, garlicked, and veganized. He suggests rice instead of egg as a vegan binder and I likey. I also used my homemade adobo spice mix for pizzazz, but you can add whatever spices you like. It’s essentially a meatloaf recipe with beans instead of ground beef.

Once the mixture is set, you can make patties or balls as your heart desires. And your heart will love them. These delicious, satisfying bean/grain burgers beat the cellophane off those pucks in the freezer section.

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

Mighty Good Veggie Burgers
Adapted from Black Bean Burger by Mark Bittman.
Yields about 15 3-oz burgers

25 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 1/2 cups cooked beans)
25 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 1/2 cups cooked beans)
1 medium onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups cooked brown short grain rice
2 tbsp adobo spice mix (or spices of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cook short grain brown rice ahead of time. You’ll need 2 cooked cups.

2) Rinse beans and put into food processor. Add the quartered onion, garlic cloves, and oats. Pulse a few times to begin mixing. Then add the rice and spices.

3) Pulse until all the ingredients are combined but not pureed, scraping the sides of the food processor occasionally. Add a splash of water if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not wet (if that makes sense).

4) Let bean/grain mixture rest for about 15-20 minutes before forming into patties. Roll mixture into 2 1/2- to 3-oz balls (a little less than 1/4 cup) and flatten into 1/2-inch-thick patties.

5) Pan cook in a teeny bit of oil or cooking spray for 5–7 minutes on each side; or bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Either way, the outside gets a little crispy and the inside is nice and chewy, but not dry.

6) Serve with whole grain bread and your favorite condiments, like spicy mustard or peanut butter and American cheese. These burgs rock with sweet potato fries.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
156 calories, 1g fat, 5g fiber, $0.43

25 oz canned black beans: 500 calories, 0g fat, 25g fiber, $2.39
25 oz cooked or canned kidney beans: 500 calories, 0g fat, 25g fiber, $2.39
1 medium onion: 40 calories, .2g fat, 3g fiber, $.50
3 cloves garlic: 4.2 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, $.036
2 cups rolled oats: 614 calories, 10g fat, 16g fiber, $.34
2 cups cooked brown short grain rice: 668 calories, 5g fat, 6g fiber, $.71
2 tbsp adobo spice mix: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
salt and pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
TOTALS: 2,332.6 calories, 15.2g fat, 75g fiber, $6.41
PER SERVING (totals/15): 156 calories, 1g fat, 5g fiber, $0.43