Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

This is a recipe I posted a long time ago, but we just had them this week, and I was reminded how tasty they are! We also tried a new modification that I’ll add in here.

It is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.  We use non-GMO miso instead of egg (see vegan modifications at the end) — the miso adds a nice flavor.  With miso, the burgers also don’t need salt.  As you know, I recommend cooked dry beans over canned.

We had some kale hanging out in the fridge as the result of an Edible Arrangement — they use it to cover the foam — so I took a handful, cooked it, chopped it, and added it with everything else. Though it was visible (so not necessarily good for very high-maintenance green-phobes), it made no noticeable difference in the flavor but adds some great vitamins and a partial serving of veggies.

I have trouble with the consistency — they’re always pretty runny and hard to flip. This time, I made them only about a quarter inch thick, and they were much sturdier.

Simplest Bean Burgers

Makes 4-6 servings
Time: 20 minutes with cooked beans

This the way to go when you want a burger and have neither the time nor the inclination to fuss.  When made with chickpeas, they’re golden brown and lovely; with black beans, much darker; with red, somewhere in between.  Lentils give you a slightly grainy texture.

There are, of course, an infinite number of ways to jazz these up, but this has good flavor and texture and is excellent served on a bun with the usual fixings.

If you start with beans you’ve cooked yourself—especially well-seasoned ones—the results will be even better, and you can put the bean-cooking liquid to good use (I usually don’t use the liquid from canned beans, which often has a tinnier taste than the beans themselves).  Like almost all veggie burger mixtures, these will hold together a little better if you refrigerate them first (ideally, you’d refrigerate both before and after shaping, but that’s only if you have the time).


  • 2 cups well-cooked white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils, or one 14-ounce can, drained
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 half cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • bean-cooking liquid, stock, or other liquid (wine, cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc.) if necessary
  • extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grape seed or corn, as needed
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, salt, pepper, and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture.  Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows.  (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance.  Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)  Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium.  A minute later, add the patties.  Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.  Serve on plates, or on buns, with the usual burger fixings or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Simplest vegan bean burger.  Many options: omit the egg, obviously.  Add 1/2 cup mashed potatoes; or 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal or short grain rice (white or brown); or 1/4 cup miso or 1/2 cup tofu.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amy Dale on 15 May 2011 at 13:41

    I hate beans, but I put these together this morning and just grilled one to try it and see if it was something the kids might eat… not bad at all! I’m cooking the rest now for dinner 🙂

    • Glad you liked it! What kind of beans did you use? We usually use black beans, but we’ve made them with white beans, mixed beans, and chickpeas.

  2. Posted by Amy Dale on 16 May 2011 at 03:24

    Used black. Drew tried a bite.. and chewed it for about 10 minutes and then I let him spit it out. He’s a trooper. LOL. Jake and Jim wouldn’t touch them. 😦

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