Grilling season is upon us. Yesssss, finally! That means mountains of meat, charred to perfection over an open flame. Today I’m thinking about burgers. I need a towel to wrap around my face. I don’t think only a bib can contain all the droolage that is happening over here. As much as I love (and I do love) grilled meat, there is definitely a time and a place for vegetarian alternatives. And that time is today. #MeatlessMondays
I choose my vegetarian interpretations of meat dishes very carefully. Because I am an omnivore, if a the meatless version of a meat dish isn’t just as delicious as the original, I don’t bother. For me, there’s no point. If I’m happier eating meat, I’m gonna do that.
With all of that in mind, I love these bean burgers. I have been using the recipe for years and I think it is the best homemade vegetarian burger I have ever had. Back in the day, I used to work as a personal chef for a vegetarian family. I have made many a meatless burger. I made legume burgers, grain burgers, and veggie burgers, but these are definitely at the top of my list. They have tons of flavor because of the addition of onion, garlic, and fresh chiles. I also love to add smoked paprika because it gives the burgers just a hint of grilled flavor and you don’t even have to go outside to cook them.
Not to mention that most veggie burgers I have encountered are held together by the addition of flour. The glue for these burgers consists of eggs and finely crushed tortilla chips. And I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose between a bowl of flour and a bowl of tortilla chips for a snack, I would definitely choose the chips. Tortilla chips = more tasty flavor. Without flour, they’re also gluten free (as long as you opt for a gluten free bun)!
Here are a few tips that will help these burgers be all that they can be:
- Reduce the Beans – After adding the beans and their juices, they will be cooked until enough of the liquid evaporates that the beans form a kind of dough. You’ll know when it’s ready when the beans start to stick to your spoon and almost make a ball. If the bean mixture is too wet, the burgers won’t stay together as well when cooking. But if you find the mixture is still too soft after adding the eggs and tortilla chips, no worries! Just add a bit more crushed tortilla chips until the dough holds together.
- Make it Crusty – A great way to add texture to these burgers, is by introducing a some crispiness. Cook your burgers on a medium to medium-low heat. This means that the burgers will have more time to form a delicious crispy outer shell. If it were to be cooked on a higher heat, the burger will have less time to form a crust before the outside burns. These burgers are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. MmmmMmmm! For even more texture, toast your burger buns. This can be done in your toaster or in a 400ºF oven. Just be sure to watch them carefully, they burn fast!
That’s it! You’re well on your way to some amazing burgers that are completely meat and gluten free. Go you! See you next time!
- ½ tablespoon plus ½ cup vegetable oil, divided
- 1 small onion, small diced
- 1 serrano chile, small diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, half of the juice removed
- 2 avocados
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips (food processor works well for this)
- 4-6 sandwich slices pepper jack cheese
- 4-6 burger buns (wheat free for a gluten free burger), toasted
- 4-6 lettuce leaves
- 4-6 slices of tomato
- 4-6 slices red onion
- salt to taste
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ½ tablespoon vegetable oil followed by the onions, diced serrano, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and smoked paprika, then cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the beans to the pan and remove from the heat. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the beans until they are mostly mashed. Don’t worry if there are a few bean chunks in the mix, that just makes for more texture in your burgers.
- Place the pan back on medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the beans become mostly dry and come together to form a dough-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool until no longer hot (it can still be warm, but should not be so hot that it cooks the egg that you will be adding).
- While the beans are cooling, make the avocado spread. Place the avocado flesh, lime juice, in a small food processor and add salt to taste. Blend until smooth.
- Add the egg to the beans and stir until well incorporated. Add the crushed tortilla chips and a pinch of salt and stir, once more, until everything is well combined. Form into 4-6 patties. The bean mixture should hold together, but still be a little bit sticky. If it is very sticky, give it a minute for the tortilla chips to absorb the water and soften. If it is still sticky and doesn’t hold together, add 1 tablespoon more of crushed tortilla chips. You can wet your hands slightly while forming the patties to prevent them from sticking to your hands.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining ½ cup vegetable oil followed by the burgers. Cook until there is a thick crust on one side, about 7 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. When the patties are almost cooked, place a slice of cheese on each burger and allow to melt.
- Transfer the burgers to a toasted bun. Smear the bottom side of each of the top buns with the avocado spread. Top the burgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Devour immediately!