I was a vegetarian for a few years before going full-on vegan. I ate great quantities of eggs and cheese – even though neither one of those things consists of vegetables. So how did that make me a vegetarian? Because (as I understood it) I wasn’t eating the flesh of an animal. (Eggs do move into that territory though, don’t they?) Now that I no longer consume animal products of any kind, I look at vegetarianism as a gray zone in a field of black and white. Hey, each to his own, but for me, I get into this kind of circular conversation with myself about whether or not there should even be a mode of eating labeled vegetarianism. (With love and respect to my vegetarian friends and their choices) I believe that veganism and vegetarianism should be one and the same. The word vegetarian sounds pretty specific: either one eats animal products or one doesn’t.
Maybe the problem is in the human need to label, sort, file, and define when really choices are limitless. Maybe the problem is that the Believer (me) hopes for an unrealistic mass conversion to plant-based eating. I suspect that the real problem lies elsewhere: veggie burgers. Yep, it could just be that simple. How many times have you picked up a box of frozen black bean burgers only to see the words, eggs or egg whites, lurking in the ingredient list? Eggs and egg whites are products of animals. How many “vegetarian” black bean burgers have you consumed at restaurants thinking it was the lone vegan item on the menu? I no longer eat veggie burgers in restaurants because I have no trust in what’s in them. And anyway, the ones I make at home taste much, much better.
I shared this recipe with The Veggie Nook on Healthy Vegan Friday.
Black Bean, Corn, & Walnut Burgers
Makes 4 large burgers
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup walnuts, soaked for about 15 minutes, then drained
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (if using frozen, thaw first)
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp. vegan grated parmesan (such as Go Veggie! or Parmela)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
4 rolls/buns (may I suggest my Chipotle Chile Pepper Rolls?)
Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions, bell pepper, and garlic in a little water or vegetable broth until soft. Stir in the onion flakes, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a food processor, process the walnuts until finely ground – but don’t go into nut butter territory.
In a large bowl, mash the beans, leaving some whole. Add the onion mixture, the walnuts, and the remaining ingredients and use your hands to mix everything up. Divide the mixture into four and form into flat patties. Place patties on the baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the burgers for 20 minutes, then carefully flip (they will be very soft) and bake for another 20 minutes or until beginning to brown and firm up. Serve immediately with hummus, red onion slices, and greens – or let the burgers sit for 20 minutes or so – they’ll continue to firm as they cool.