The Simplest Bean Burgers
4 to 8 servings
30 to 40 minutes, plus chilling time
These burgers are excellent served on a bun with the usual fixings, no matter which bean you use, but I will say that black beans give the best possible result. If you start with well-seasoned, cooked-by-you beans, the results are even better. If you like, replace the oats with rolled rye, wheat, or even soybean flakes. Like almost all veggie burgers, these hold together better if you refrigerate them before cooking.
2 cups well-cooked black, white, or red beans, chickpeas, or lentils, or 1 14-ounce can, drained
1 onion, cut into chunks
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant), plus more if necessary
1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice
Salt and pepper
Bean-cooking liquid, stock, wine, cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc. (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Put the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, and some salt and pepper in a food processor. Let the machine run, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, until the mixture is thoroughly combined but not puréed, about 1 minute. (If you don’t have a food processor, put everything in a large bowl and use a potato masher.) Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. You want a moist consistency that will easily form cakes. If it is too wet, add more oats; if it’s too dry, bean-cooking liquid or other liquid. In either case, add the ingredient 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse (or mash) after each addition.
2. Lightly wet your hands and shape the mixture into 4 large or 8 small patties; put them on the baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
3. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the patties. Cook, undisturbed, until brown and crisp on one side, 3 to 8 minutes. Add more oil if the pan looks dry, then turn the burgers over carefully with a spatula and cook until they feel firm and are browned on the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Bean-and-Cheese Burgers: Stir 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, Jack, mozzarella, or other cheese into the mixture right before forming into patties.
Bean-and-Greens Burgers: Add 1 cup cooked greens, squeezed dry, to the food processor in Step 1. If mixing by hand, chop before adding.