One of the Holy Grails of vegetarian cooking is a meat-free burger that’s tasty, nutritious, full of protein, easy to make and easy to handle. Without the strong protein structure of meat, or the scientific hijinks of processed burgers, it can be tricky to get vegetarian burgers to hold together. This burger uses the strength of bulgur wheat and will easily become one of your favourites.
Yield: 6 large or 8 small burgers
2 tablespoons any vegetable oil
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso paste
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 19 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Splash the oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Sauté until the mushrooms lose their moisture and the onions caramelize, about 20 minutes. This step is one of the keys to the mixture; it is important to cook out as much moisture as possible so the burger will hold together.
Add the water, bulgur and soy sauce. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes.
Pour the mixture onto a plate or tray and let it cool to room temperature.
When cool, transfer the bulgur-mushroom mixture into the bowl of your food processor. Add the eggs, miso paste, breadcrumbs, black beans, thyme and salt and pepper. Purée until smooth.
Form the mixture into evenly shaped patties about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat your barbecue on its highest setting.
Lightly brush the burgers with oil and grill until they are cooked through and caramelized a bit. Alternatively, you may pan sear them in a lightly oiled preheated pan or simply bake them at 400 °F (200 °C). Enjoy with your favourite burger toppings.
Try substituting a spoonful or two of chili powder for the fresh thyme.
Long ago, the cooks of the world discovered the efficiency of simmering tough meat in tenderizing water. They also discovered that they could add lots of local flavour to make the results more interesting. Today, beef stews are a part of cuisines and cultures around the globe. This one features the bright familiar flavours of the Southwest.