I was going to make this recipe for me and the kids to eat for the family cookout on the 4th. Easy, flexible, endlessly customizable…what’s not to love? Until I got to the point of choosing vegetables. Even though we’re all three vegetarians, we don’t all love the same vegetables. And don’t think that just because they’ve been vegetarians since birth doesn’t mean I don’t have to sneak vegetables into their food — I do and I have and it (usually) works.
The way I get my daughter to eat carrots and potatoes is to put them in pot pie. I use canned mixed vegetables, but the sauce and crust are so tasty that she eats them anyway. So I figured using the exact same vegetables to make these burgers would work under the Foods You Already Eat defense. Only…it didn’t. The patties were limp and mushy and my kids gave them the hairy eyeball and skipped straight to the fries.
I decided to see if I could salvage the concept. The mixture had a good flavor (canned veggies can be saved with the right seasonings), even though the patty texture left a little to be desired. I always have these ingredients on hand. And it’s so fast and easy to make. (Unlike pot pie.) Plus, no egg! Most veggie burger recipes I’ve seen use egg as a binder. So I’ve been tinkering with the mixture and methods. Here’s the end result.
I serve these two patties per bun, with vegan mayo (finally, I can eat mayo again!) and Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle. Thousand Island dressing is also good. And, as the original recipe states, you can change up the spices for different flavor combinations.
The kids still won’t eat them. More for me!
1 can pinto beans (15.5 oz)
2 cans mixed vegetables (roughly 3 cups total)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon Bragg’s aminos (or to taste)
Panko bread crumbs*
Drain and rinse the beans and veggies; drain very well. You want to get rid of as much of the liquid as possible. Mash together to make a paste. (A pastry blender works well for this — it mixes the veggies and beans nicely while still leaving recognizable chunks so you don’t end up with just a green-orange-brown goo.) Stir in the seasonings and mix well; taste and adjust as desired. Stir in Panko bread crumbs; start with 1 cup, and add more as needed to absorb the extra moisture. Wet mixture = mush.
Heat a skillet over medium heat with a small dollop of olive oil (dime to nickel size) per patty. Alternatively, you can brush or mist the patty with oil before placing it in the pan. Roll 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball; for a crunchier crust, roll the ball into more Panko crumbs. Flatten the ball into a thin patty and place on the hot oil. Cook for 3 minutes; add another small dollop of oil to the pan, flip the patty onto it, and cook for 3 minutes on that side.
If you don’t want to cook all of the patties at once, you can store the leftover mixture in the fridge in an airtight container. The original recipe says the mixture keeps for at least 7 days. I am paranoid about food-borne illness, so 7 days seems like a stretch, but I did eat the mixture on the 4th day and did not die.
Alternatively, you could place the patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid; transfer the frozen patties to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Though that seems to be an awful lot of trouble for patties that take roughly 15 minutes to make fresh.
*Variations I have not tried but suspect might work just as well as a binder include shredded cheese (though these patties obviously are not vegan) and leftover rice (not freshly made rice; you want it to be dry and sticky). I’ll update this post if I do end up trying those.