Last year, Matt and I made monthly goals: fast walk every single day; no fried foods; spend only on essentials; etcetera and so forth. These goals were to challenge ourselves into a healthier lifestyle and also experiment with some things we may never otherwise have really given a fair shot.
One month was vegetarian month; February. The next month was vegan month; March. Vegetarian month was not all that challenging for us. Our only hurdle was when we were dining with friends and family but we did manage to overcome that pretty well. Vegan month, though, was another story. Becoming vegan, even going right from vegetarian, still feels like an impossibility. This was never going to be a long-term change but we wanted to experiment with vegan options and cooking. We are cooks, after all. That means cooking for all sorts of people. If I am confronted with vegans in the workplace, I would like to have first-hand experience cooking delicious food that accommodates that. Now I can.
We tried several recipes from cookbooks or that we found online; some were excellent, some were good and some were downright disgusting, in our personal opinions. We also came up with some things ourselves. We followed a few recipes for veggie burgers that month but when it came down to it, we decided that we just wanted to be able to have a recipe that we could throw together with stuff we already had in the kitchen. That’s how this recipe was born.
Now I would like to start by saying that you can, in fact, make this recipe with just about whatever you want in your kitchen. Don’t have quinoa? Use rice or couscous. Don’t like kale? Try spinach or chard. You can also substitute just about any root vegetable for the carrots, or create your own medley. Beets work really well, but they’re messy! So have some fun with what you choose to include, just keep the ratio about the same. You want about equal parts grains, beens and veggies.
You can have some fun with the seasonings, too. We like the flavour of soy sauce or tamari over salt but there are other options out there or you could stick to some salt. Keep in mind the sodium level of your canned beans. If it’s no salt added or even low sodium, you’ll need to add a little more. If your beans are normal, you may not need to add anything at all. For a little kick, we add Frank’s hot sauce but you can add any hot sauce you want or keep it mild with some barbecue sauce instead.
Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb made with crust-less bread ground into large flakes. It is lighter than traditional breadcrumbs but stays crispier because it doesn’t absorb as much grease when you cook with it. This is what we keep in our house but you could substitute with normal bread crumbs if you want, though you might end up with a slightly wetter product.
The addition of the breadcrumbs is essential for this recipe. In order to make it vegan, we had to omit eggs. This means that the product is on the mushy side because the only thing we use to hold it together is the breadcrumbs. That is why you must add some sort of breadcrumbs to give it that hold and body so it doesn’t completely fall apart.
We like these burgers dressed up exactly as you would a normal hamburger: bun, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato and pickles. If you’re not vegan you could add cheese too. It’s also good with barbecue sauce, with or without the bun, just slathered on top. You do you.
Now, without further ado, the good stuff.
Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Yield: 8 x 4-5oz patties . Prep time: 20 minutes . Cooking time: 10 minutes
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 398ml cans black beans (low sodium), drained, rinsed and mashed
1 shallot, minced
1 cup green kale, thinly shredded
2 medium carrots, finely shredded
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari, or to taste
Hot sauce (such as Frank’s), to taste
3/4 cup (approx.) Panko bread crumbs, as needed
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool.
- In a large bowl, combine beans with the next group of ingredients until evenly distributed.
- Add seasonings to taste. At this point, you should be able to taste it and determine your satisfaction of the flavour.
- Add about half of your panko and combine until evenly distributed. You may need more or less, depending on the wetness of your beans, grains and quinoa. Add up to 1 cup in total, just until the mixture holds together enough that it can be shaped into a patty. It will still be a little sticky.
- Portion into 4oz patties, or scant 1/2 cup patties, and flatten to about 1/2 inch thickness and 4 inch diameter.
- In a frying pan large enough to fit the amount of burgers you will be searing comfortably, heat some oil on medium heat. Add the burgers and sear until crispy, about 5 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with your favourite fixings on your favourite bun.
So there you have it; our go-to veggie burger recipe with lots of room for modifications and substitutions to make it work with whatever you already have.