Ah yes, the veggie burger. If you’ve ever gone meat-free for a substantial amount of time, chances are you came to rely on this tried and true staple. It’s gotten me through many a company barbecue and airport layover. It turns out though, that most big name veggie burger brands are not actually vegan — most use eggs as binding.
Furthermore, let’s take a look at the three leading producers of veggie burgers. Boca Foods, makers of the Boca Burger is a subsidiary of Kraft Foods. Morningstar Farms is owned by Kellogs, as is Gardenburger. While it is possible to find small independently run veggie burger producers (Dr. Praeger’s comes to mind), these three dominate the market. There’s nothing particularly eco-friendly about the packaging. None of the brands I checked use recycled materials, and the patties come individually wrapped in plastic.
So what’s an earth-conscious herbivore to do? Make your own, of course!
I cooked up some black bean burgers last night that were filling and delicious. Here’s my recipe:
1 Can black beans (16 oz. Or you could soak your own)
1/4 Cup ketchup
1 and 1/2 Tsp cornstarch, mixed with equal part water
1/2 Cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 Cup bread crumbs
2 Cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp minced shallots
1/4 Tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 Tsp paprika
A pinch each of salt, black pepper, and bay leaves, if you have them.
Combine all of your wet ingredients, mash slightly with a fork and set aside. In a food processor, grind up all of your dry ingredients until they all resemble breadcrumbs. Mix the dry in with the wet ingredients. Now for the fun part: dig your hands in and mash everything up. Form the mixture into 3 or 4 patties, depending how big you like them.
Coat your skillet with cooking oil and put the heat on high. Cook your patties two at a time, for about 3-6 minutes, depending how hot your oil is (and how “well done” you like them). Flip with a spatula and repeat on the other side. Once they’re nice and dark brown, set them aside on a paper towel to cool.
While they cool, you can make this easy Tomatillo Sauce that’s a perfect complement. Rinse out your food processor and toss in:
1/2 of an avocado
1 Can tomatillos, drained (12 oz.)
1 Tsp salt
Blend until you have a lovely green paste. Add a heaping spoonful to a toasted kaiser roll. Top your burger with lettuce, tomato, and red onion, and you’re good to go. You’ll have plenty of leftover Tomatillo Sauce. Try using it as a topping for burritos, tacos, in a salad, or on another sandwich.