So the veggie burger quest finally continues. I could say I was building up suspense but the truth is that I was simply too busy to post, plus I was developing RSI-like complaints from too much typing. Luckily, technology has intervened and I am dictating this post to my laptop, which neatly types it out for me. Nice bit of digital slavery going on there.
Anyway, back to the quest. It seems we have struck gold at the first inn (I do apologise for the fantasy novel imagery, I used to play Dungeons & Dragons), the first “inn” being Veganomicon, the brilliant vegan cookery book co-written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen blog. I love this book, both the recipes and the style of writing. I find that vegan food writing tends to be a bit self-satisfied (even slightly smug, in some cases) and moralistic, while this book is simply a humourous cookbook that happens to be vegan.
I was intrigued by the recipe for black bean burgers, because it uses an ingredient I had only ever heard of. Yes, I am talking about ingredient X, which is… wait for it… vital wheat gluten. Over here (the Netherlands) it’s not something you can buy in the supermarket, so I ordered a 5 kg bag from a mill and let me tell you, that’s a lot of wheat gluten. Luckily, it is a brilliant ingredient, especially for making vegetarian burgers, because it binds all the ingredients together, which solves the biggest problem with veggie burgers: the fact that they tend to fall apart. These burgers are about as firm as meat burgers and, in my opinion, taste better (granted, it’s been a while since I’ve actually eaten a meat burger.)
Thanks to the wheat gluten, I can now let go of a prejudice I harboured regarding veggie burgers: you can actually make tasty burgers with tinned beans, provided you use wheat gluten or a similar binding agent.
I’ve not changed much in the way of ingredients but I have simplified the cooking method, so they really are a doddle to make. Now, this is a recipe from a book I own, and as far as I know the recipe is not available on the Post Punk Kitchen website. Normally I would not share a recipe like that, but reading the Veganomicon, I got the impression that the authors do not mind their recipes showing up on blogs, and even welcome it. Naturally, I would take it down immediately if there was a complaint.
This recipe is very versatile. I’ve made it several times now, using different types of beans and various fresh herbs and I’m sure you could also turn the mixture into into little “meatballs” or vegetarian sausages.
So far, I’ve cooked these burgers and then frozen the ones that were left over for later. They heated up okay in the oven (about 25 minutes on 175°C) but I made a batch with black eyed beans last night and have frozen those uncooked, to fry after thawing. I will report back on them later, via my Facebook page. For now, I can say that, as far as I’m concerned, these burgers tick all the boxes.
I have given grams for the dry ingredients but I actually find it easier to measure them out in cups (never thought I’d say that).
310 g tin of black beans (or beans of your choice), drained and rinsed, then roughly mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon tomato purée
¼ cup (60 ml) water
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons of fresh coriander (or any herb you prefer)
1/2 of a small onion
1/2 cup (60 g) vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup (50 g) dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
half a teaspoon of cumin
1/2 tsp salt
– Put the beans and tomato purée, and water in a large bowl.
– Blitz the garlic, coriander and onion finely in a mini chopper or food processor and add to the beans. Mix well.
– Mix all the other ingredients in another bowl and add to the bean mixture.
– Mix with a fork and then knead for a short time by hand (about one minute).
– Shape into six balls and flatten them into a burger shape.
– Fry in a shallow layer of oil, pressing down on them with a spatula every now and again, about five minutes each side.