Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook has seen a major shift in the types of recipes I’ve been trying. I’m an avid carnivore, but lately I’ve been dabbling in the realm of, what I’ve been calling, the “Pesca-Veggie-Vegan”. Have no fear, I won’t likely be giving up meat anytime soon, however, I have really been enjoying stretching my culinary muscles to find some more heart healthy options to my long time favorites. Additionally, my S/O has decided to adopt a Pescatarian “adjacent” diet, and you know…”the way to man’s heart” and all…and here we are.
I decided that the best way to easily incorporate some vegetarian options into my normal routine was to find or create substitutions for some of my “go to” recipes. My first attempt at such was to create a killer veggie burger. It made sense for a number of reasons; they can be prepared in batches and frozen for quick meals; the options for seasonings and toppings to create diverse variations are endless; and, perhaps the most important reason, how could I ever call myself a chef with a vegetarian portfolio without a good veggie burger recipe. (Seriously, how gorgeous is that burger?)
I should mention that my options for vegetarian cooking are cut almost in half because of my mushroom allergy. If I could eat mushrooms, I probably would’ve remained a vegetarian when I tried it almost ten years ago. But, honestly, without the motivation to find sustainable options, I only lasted about a year. It was fun, but at the end of the day, I really just missed bacon.
So, as any self respecting recipe researcher does, I ventured onto Pinterest for inspiration. After sifting through all of the recipes that called for mushrooms, I settled on using black beans and quinoa as my base. Since I was going for a hearty robust flavored gourmet burger, I decided on a few other options to seal the deal: bourbon caramelized onions, smoked gouda cheese, chili garlic paste, onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
I don’t like to used canned vegetables. Sometimes I don’t have a choice because folks are hungry and not even the pressure cooker can do the job fast enough; but when possible, I like to use fresh vegetable, legumes, and beans. However, in this case, I don’t believe it’s necessary to go through the trouble of soaking and cooking fresh beans. I can’t say that one day, when I have a little extra time on my hands, I won’t try the recipe with fresh beans, but for now the canned variety will do.
You don’t need to cook the canned beans, just rinse and drain them before pulsing them in a food processor, blender, ninja, or whatever method you choose. Be careful not to over blend them, you don’t want a paste rather, a chunky mixture. (What I didn’t mention is that while this has been happening, you’ve been cooking 1 cup (2 cups cooked) of quinoa in vegetable stock in the background.) I also use the food processor to grate the onion and garlic.
Next combine the beans, quinoa, grated onion and garlic, salt, pepper, chili paste, cayenne, and grated smoked gouda in a large bowl. Mix it all together and taste it. This is the point where you can improvise as you see fit. I’ve added some cumin, feta, and grated kalamata olives to make a Mediterranean version. I’ve also done ginger, soy sauce, and sriracha for a spicy Asian version. You really can do anything.
Next you’ll add an egg and panko bread crumbs to bind the mixture. Don’t over mix it, because you want to maintain the texture of the beans. Once you’ve adjusted seasonings and the mixture is complete, lay out aluminum foil or parchment paper and form a log.
Next, roll the foil and twist the ends to close it off. If you want to eat the burgers right away, put the log in the freezer for about thirty minutes. Another option is to freeze the log for later use. I usually double the recipe and make one log immediately, and save one for later. They defrost easily in the refrigerator or by putting them in a ziploc bag and defrosting in a bowl of hot water. I’ve frozen these for up to a month without issue.
Next, preheat a pan, then add olive oil; cut the log into 1 1/2 inch disks, and once the oil is hot, add them to the pan. DO NOT REMOVE THE FOIL. (I know you don’t see any in this picture…I totally forgot to take a picture before I removed the foil.)
When I originally made this recipe, I took the foil off after the first side was cooked and a nice crust had formed. However, I tried them just yesterday and left the foil on until both sides formed a crust and it worked much better in terms of holding them together for “the big press” (coming soon). It’ll take about 2-3 minutes on each side for the crust to form. The patties should slide around the pan easily once the crust is formed properly. The crust should look like the picture.
Take a look a he picture to the left. This is what happens after “the big press”. Take your spatula to the disks, and smash them down to about 1/2 inch thickness. Now, allow the burgers to reform the crust, it should take an addition 2-3 minutes per side. At this point, you can toast your buns and rally the troupes!
While the patties are on their final turn, top each one with a slice of cheese. During the final minutes of cooking, cover the pan to finish melting the cheese.
Assemble the burger with your sauce of choice on the bun, lettuce, tomato, and the caramelized onions. Treat yourself to french fries and dig in!!
Ingredients (4-6 servings):
1 can black beans
2 cups (cooked) quinoa
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1T garlic, minced
1/2 cup yellow onion, grated
1 cup smoked gouda, grated
1T chili garlic paste
1T cayenne pepper
2T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 Kaiser rolls
2 large yellow onions
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup butter (vegan butter if desired)
2T brown sugar
- Cook quinoa according to package instructions, using vegetable stock instead of water.
- Begin preparing caramelized onions (instructions below).
- Drain and rinse beans.
- Pulse beans in food processor until the consistency resembles chunky peanut butter and transfer to large bowl.
- Grate 1/2 cup of yellow onion in food processor with garlic, and transfer to bowl.
- Once the quinoa has cooked, add it to the bowl.
- Add seasonings and grated cheese to the mixture.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Gently fold in bread crumbs and egg until breadcrumbs are moist. Try forming a patty to test the thickness of the mixture. If necessary add more breadcrumbs.
- On a clean flat surface lay out a piece of aluminum foil about 18 inches wide. Wide enough to be able to twist the ends to secure the loaf.
- Transfer the mixture to the foil, form a roll about 3 inches in diameter and freeze for at least thirty minutes.
- Cut the loaf (through the foil) into 1 1/2 inch thick disks.
- Preheat a large pan and add the olive oil.
- Add no more than 4 patties to the heated pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until a golden brown crust has formed.
- Once the crust has formed on both sides, transfer the patties to a paper towel lined plate, and gently remove the foil. Be careful not to rip the patties apart, they are still “raw” on the inside.
- Transfer the patties back to the pan (add more olive oil if necessary), and using your spatula, press down on each until they are about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on each side to reform the crust. When the patties are on their final flip, cover each with a slice of cheese.
- Once the cheese is melted, assemble each burger and enjoy. (I usually make mine a double)
If you have a mandolin, do yourself a favor and use it here. Cut the two large onions into 1/8th inch slices. Melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced onions. Sweat the onions for a couple minutes so they all fit in the pan. Once the onions all fit and start to turn translucent and the pan is just about dry, remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon. Return the pan to the heat and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Allow the liquid to evaporate and continue to stir the onions occasionally. Once the liquid has evaporated, add 1/4 cup of water to the mixture. Allow the liquid to evaporate and repeat this step until the onions are the desired color, usually the color of a penny. It should take 2-3 times. These onions are the bomb.com and should go on everything.