It all started on Meatless Monday when I received my weekly weekday recipe from The Splendid Table. This recipe happened to be Italian Herb Burgers on Focaccia. I thought, “Gee, that sounds delicious! Except I don’t have half the ingredients required, nor do I have focaccia bread, nor a temperature-controlled grill.” So, you know, like, all the things you would need to make these I essentially didn’t have. But, as previously stated, it was Meatless Monday, and since I was planning on cooking a meatless dish (because I didn’t have any meat in the house…not because I, you know, planned for this), I thought I could make it work.
The end result was absolutely nothing like the original in terms of method, but the flavor and texture was spot on. My gripe with other bean burgers is that in spite of an amazingly awesome outside sear, the inside will just turn to mush in your mouth as soon as you bite into it. These did not. The secret? It’s all in the oats.
I had to play with the method for these a bunch of times before things started to jive. How do the oats come into play? Well, they’re kind of like the starchy flour adding stability to the pureed beans. Now, I know this is crazy, but if you’ve ever had derma (or kishka), these taste like that. They’re thick, meaty (meatless meaty, if that makes sense), incredibly dense, and hold up to any sauce, bun, or other delivery vessel.
One of the tricks I learned was to grind the oats into a flour before you decide to add everything else into the food processor. Trust me, this makes things a heck of a lot easier when you’re trying to cram 9 cups of food into a 7-cup food processor.
Another trick? Don’t get so cocky that you think you can simply cut up the carrots and throw them into the food processor without grating them. I had thought this and, since I was playing things fast and loose with the fillings, my bold move of not grating the carrots ended up with Ben almost cracking a tooth on a whole carrot hidden within the veggie burger as he bit down. Grate the carrots ahead of time. Don’t be like me. Or, you can be like me and just budget for more dental appointments. The choice is yours. But seriously, don’t be like me.
One of the best things about these burgers are the mini pita pockets I found! They are just so stinking cute and I couldn’t help buying/eating them after I had gone through my falafel phase last week. I guess these veggie burgers aren’t that much different from falafels, but oh man are these amped up in the flavor department. The tiniest bit of tomato paste I threw in there, along with the herbs (fresh and dried) really keep the party interesting. Again, The Splendid Table nailed it here. I give them full credit for the tomato paste suggestion.
See how cute the mini pita pocket is! It’s just begging for me to stuff it full of veggie burger.
Which I did, and made it look really stupid once I threw in a piece of mango and topped it off with a silly looking avocado hat. You know those people who dress up their dogs in sweaters? Yeah, that’s me here. Not the most elegant look for a mini pita pocket, but you get the point. The possibilities are endless!…provided those possibilities fit within the obvious size restrictions.
Give these a try. I’ll thank you and your family will thank you (except for whoever has to do the dishes, obviously…you should be thanking them).
These veggie burgers are cooked more like falafels, but taste like derma (kishka). The secret to holding these bean-based burgers together is the ground oats.
- 1 15-oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats, ground to a fine powder in the food processor
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 of a small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 small carrots, grated (or 1 large carrot)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsps parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (can used reduced sodium if you prefer)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more, depending)
- Combine all the ingredients into a food processor. Turn it on and slowly stream in 1/4 cup of oil into the food processor, until all the ingredients begin to break down and come together. Add more or less oil as needed. The mixture should be a thick paste, but still very wet.
- Heat the remaining oil (about 1/4 cup) in a large skillet. Meanwhile, form each veggie burger patty into circles that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter by 1/2 inch thick. As each patty is formed, carefully place it into the hot oil. Be careful not the crowd the pan with too many patties; otherwise, they won't brown correctly.
- When the first side is golden brown and has a nice crust (about 5-7 minutes), flip the patties over and brown on the other side until golden (about 3-5 minutes).
- Serve immediately with pita bread or on burger buns.
Adapted from The Splendid Table