There are a good few things I want to write about, but since a number of people have been asking me about this particular topic lately, I’ll go with it!
A bit of background: I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 or 19 years now, and I take care to make sure that I have enough protein in my diet, as it can be easy for a veg to overlook. A lot of vegetarians just grab for their jar of peanut butter (if they live in the US), a block of cheese, or a can of beans and call it a day.
But… why do that when you can make something that is more balanced, tasty, AND easy? Veggie burgers are the staple of many veggie diets, but generally they are the type that are in a box in the frozen food isle. Even if you go to a nice restaurant and order a veggie burger, it is…well, always from my experience….from a box in the freezer. It never occurred to me that veggie burgers were something that normal people could make at home, until my husband got me a really great book, Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, by Lukas Volger. I have to admit, I am terrible about following recipes. I generally just look at one to get inspiration, and then go my own way. I followed some recipes in this book the first few times, but now that I just make ‘em up as I go, and they turn out great. I really do recommend this book, though.
A note on beans: Yeah, you can used canned beans, but they are generally loaded with preservatives and just aren’t as tasty as the real thing. The ‘real thing’ is easy, you just have to think of it in advance. Before you go to bed, put some dried beans in a bowl, cover with water, and leave them there for 12 hours, plus or minus whatever time is convenient to you. Rinse and then put in a pot and cover with fresh water and simmer til done. Time will depend on the bean. They are so much tastier this way. And cheaper.
Ok, so here is the ‘Easy Bean Burger’ recipe at the beginning of his book, slightly adapted. It really is easy! And tasty! And versatile! You can also make them into tiny patties to put on a salad, which is fun. And you can wrap up uncooked burgers and stick them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Easy Bean Burger
1 1/2 cups cooked beans
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 grated parmesan
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoons salt
14 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup tasted bread crumbs (plus more if needed)
2 Tbs olive oil
(Optional tasty things to add in: chopped fresh sage, pesto, chopped sun dried tomatoes, chopped walnuts, etc)
**if you don’t have all of these ingredients, don’t worry. The necessary ingredients are the beans, eggs, salt & pepper, bread crumbs, oil… but it is better with the other things.
-Preheat oven to 375 F
-Mash the beans in a bowl, and fold in all ingredients except for bread crumbs. Then add bread crumbs, and add more if it is too loose. It should be nice and wet. Let sit for 5 minutes or so for the crumbs to soak up extra moisture. Shape into 4 patties (or more, if you want mini burgers).
-In an oven safe skillet (like cast iron pan), heat oil over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until browned on each side, which should take 5-10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake 12-15 minutes more until the burgers are firm and cooked through. (if you don’t have an oven safe skillet, cook over heat in whatever you have, and then cook in the oven on something that can go in the oven, like a cookie sheet or aluminum foil.
Serve however you want! I like to make my own buns (so easy! Get that book I told you about for the recipe. Or just make normal bread, using half whole wheat, and form into balls, and use an eggwash to make seeds or whatever you want on top to stick) and also to make my own baked french fries and pickled red onions.