The Best Vegan Burgers
What you need:
• 1 1/2 pounds button mushrooms, washed and trimmed
• 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 6 thyme sprigs
• 1 whole small eggplant (about 1/2 pound)
• 2 large leeks, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
• 1 large celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
• 3/4 cup black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry on paper towels
• 1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and patted dry on paper towels
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or buckwheat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast or vegemite
• 1 cup toasted cashews, pinenuts, or a mix
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 1 1/2-cups panko-style bread crumbs
• Salt and Pepper, about 1 teaspoon each, then to taste
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with 1 tablespoon oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Coat eggplant with another tablespoon olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Liberally salt the eggplant and let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer mushrooms and eggplant to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Scatter thyme over mushrooms. Bake, turning mushrooms and eggplant occasionally until mushrooms are dark brown and soft and eggplant is completely tender (test with a cake tester or thin skewer), about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
3. While mushrooms and eggplant roast, heat remaining two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
4. Add leeks and celery and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until completely softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
5. Add the garbanzo beans & black beans to the bowl of a food processor along with flour, baking powder, soy sauce, yeast and eggplant. Process until a smooth paste forms, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to a bowl
7. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Chop cashews or pinenuts in the food processor the same way and add to bean mixture.
8. When mushrooms are cool, add to bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped but still coarse in texture, about 8 to 10 short pulses. Add to bean mix. When leeks and celery are cool, transfer to food processor. Chop with 8 to 10 short pulses and add to bean mix.
9. Using bare hands or a spatula, stir together mixture until completely homogenous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mixture can be refrigerated and stored for up to 5 days at this point or frozen in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months.
10. When Ready To Serve: Add breadcrumbs to mixture and work them in with your hands. Make a sample patty. It should have the texture of ground beef and hold together easily. If not, add water a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. If the mixture is too wet, keep adding flour until desired moisture is achieved. Divide mixture into eight patties about 4-inches across and 1/2 an inch thick. Patties must be cooked within 30 minutes of adding breadcrumbs.
11. To Finish on a Griddle or in a Skillet: Heat three tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add four patties and cook without moving until first side is well-browned, about 3 minutes. I like to press a disk of sliced onion into the top side while it cooks. Flip burgers and top with cheese (if desired) and cook until second side is browned and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a toasted bun and serve with condiments as desired.
Yield about 8 medium sized burgers