Summer brings us outdoors more and more. For most of us, that means occasional (or frequent) grilling and picnicking. While burgers and hot dogs are a given, for vegetarians or for folks just looking to mix it up this year, homemade veggie burgers are the way to go.
I was a vegetarian for many, many years and for most of that I lived on those soy-based fake meat products in the grocery stores. While easy and tasty, they're overly processed, a bit expensive, and often not that nutritious. So I began making my own veggie burgers when I was in graduate school with beans and grains and bits of whatever vegetables I had in my refrigerator.
Recently I came across a slightly similar recipe to the one I've been making for years now in The Homemade Pantry, Alana Chernila's lovely book on making wonderful basic foods at home -- everything from ketchup to yogurt and tortillas. Alana's burgers rely on black beans, mushrooms and carrots just like my recipe. I also love adding farro to mine to make them a bit more substantial, and edamame, Italian parsley and cilantro for color. They're flavorful, filling and make for a really nice alternative to the same old grilling favorites.
This recipe makes six very large burgers or eight smaller burgers. I'll often make a batch and freeze a few to pull out on a busy weeknight. You can use any grain you like. I use farro because I love it's chewiness, but if you'd prefer to use rice or barley, they'd be great too. We usually have these with a bit of coleslaw or gazpacho in the summer or with a hot soup in the winter.
Black Bean Edamame BurgersServes 6 to 8 depending on size of patties
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
1/3 cup farro
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, shredded
16 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
2 15 1/2-ounce cans black beans
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
6-8 hamburger buns
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the grains 20 minutes. Check the grains; if not yet al dente, simmer for another few minutes until desired texture is reached. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the mushroom caps and continue cooking until softened, 2 additional minutes.
In a food processor, pulse all but 1/2 cup of the beans to a chunky puree; transfer to a bowl. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of beans, edamame, cooked farro, onion mixture, cumin, chile powder, bread crumbs, Dijon, soy sauce, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt or seasonings as desired. Let the mixture cool until no longer steaming, then mix in the eggs. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick liner or parchment. Using your hands, form the mixture into large patties (3 1/2" - 4" in diameter, 3/4" thick) and lay them on the baking sheet several inches apart. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the patties have browned slightly on top. If desired, top with cheese and run under the broiler until cheese is melted.
Serve warm on your favorite rolls with tomato, a little onion, a bit of mayonnaise, and a hunk of lettuce. Baked or un-baked patties will keep refrigerated for 3 days, or freeze un-baked patties in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
(Images: Megan Gordon)