Most supermarkets these days sell convenient frozen veggie burgers. We’ve eaten a lot of these, and most of them are quite tasty and nutritious. But they tend to cost around a dollar per patty, and they’re packed in plastic, and they’ve been shipped across the continent in a freezer truck, and many of them feature large amounts of genetically modified, isolated soy protein.
This is one recipe for homemade veggie burgers that we really like. Four years ago, I explained how we were still calling them by the original recipe’s name even though it didn’t make sense with our modification of the cooking instructions…and how that made me think of a future animal, the Grildebeest. In the comments, my brother asked if we’d now be calling the burgers Grildebeens. Ultimately, yes, we modified the recipe to be a little more to our taste, and we are still making these burgers regularly and calling them Grildebeen Burgers. So here’s our recipe!
To make about 10 burgers or 40-50 nuggets, you will need:
- 1 onion
- 2 large carrots, or several small carrots
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 4 cloves garlic
- 30 ounces canned beans, or 3 cups cooked beans–at least two varieties, like pinto and black beans
- 3/4 cup uncooked oats–we use the quick-cooking kind; rolled oats work too
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, shelled
- 3 Tbsp. prepared mustard–yellow or brown
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce (Be sure to buy organic or GMO-free soy sauce!)
- 2 Tbsp. ketchup or tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
Mince the onion, or grate it in a food processor. Grate the carrots. (It is possible to make these burgers with onions and/or carrots that you previously shredded and froze, but you’ll want to cook them longer in the next stage to remove excess sogginess.)
Saute onion in oil in skillet. As it starts to brown, add carrots, chili powder, and cumin. Cook and stir, about 2 minutes. Crush garlic, stir it in, and remove from heat.
Whiz oats and sunflower seeds in food processor or blender. (Don’t worry if it’s still damp from grating vegetables; use a rubber scraper to get the food out.) You don’t have to reduce them to powder, just break them up a bit.
Rinse beans. Mash them in a large bowl, or process them in food processor or blender, to desired consistency–they need to be at least somewhat mashed to hold the burgers together, but you can leave some whole beans for texture.
Add carrot mixture and oat mixture to the beans. Mix thoroughly; you may want to use your hands. If the mixture seems really wet, add another 1/4 cup oats (ground or left whole, as you prefer).
There are three options for cooking the burgers:
- Easiest method: Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form burgers and place them on the paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Flip them over. Bake another 10 minutes or until browned.
- Richer flavor: Fry them in oil in a skillet until browned.
- Most energy-efficient and heats up the kitchen least: Cook them on a George Foreman grill. It’s harder to get them really thoroughly cooked this way unless you cook them a long time (with the tiny grill we have, which does one burger at a time, it’s very tedious) so you might want to let the mixed ingredients stand for a while before cooking to mix the flavors. For this particular burger recipe, I feel that the grill is better for reheating a previously-cooked burger than for the initial cooking.
Serve with your choice of toppings!
Recently, we’ve been making part of each batch of veggie burgers into small nuggets for our one-year-old Lydia. Nuggets can be eaten plain, dipped in sauce, served in a wrap or on top of a salad, or used like meatballs in a sauce or soup (add them just before serving; they will fall apart as they get wet). Nuggets also make a good finger food for a party or coffee hour.
Leftover burgers can be stored in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for a few months. If you used parchment paper, fold it between them so they don’t stick together. If you didn’t use parchment paper, you can just stack them in a bowl for the fridge, but for freezing use a cut-open cereal box liner bag (free!) or parchment paper, or freeze them spread out on a flat surface and then put them in a bag. Nuggets are best frozen in a small group (the number you’ll want to defrost at once) in a bag with the air squeezed out.
Reheat using any of the methods above, or in a microwave. Thawed burgers reheat more appetizingly than frozen ones.