Gluten-Free Vegan Burger Meat Substitute


If you’re vegan, you still want a burger that good. We are working diligently on the issue. Photo by Anthony DeLorenzo at Flickr; CC 2.0 license.

If you’re leery of the flavor and consistency of prepackaged frozen vegan burger patties and the sick things they do to your digestive system, here’s an alternative. This does slightly resemble meat-looking faux meat, if you’re into that. I think the most common mistake that vegan chefs make is that they try to mimic meat.

Meat today generally sucks, comes from animals born and slaughtered in a barn today, not from anything happy that lived in a field with lots of green grass to eat. The only reason today’s meat tastes good is that we put vegetables and spices on it. So stop making fake meat and start making good vegan food.

Mixed Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cooked sweet brown rice (sticky rice)
  • 1 Tbsp veggie butter
  • 1/3 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable bouillon concentrate
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind extract (strength varies by brand, be careful)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp honey, white sugar or agave nectar

Sauteed Ingredients:

  • 1 Fresno or jalapeno pepper, chopped or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil

Optional: 2 tsp Chinese mustard (for an extra tangy version)

Sticky brown rice (sweet rice) works pretty well to bind if you don’t overdo the oil and fat in the mixture. Long grain brown rice doesn’t work the same as the sticky sweet variety. Add one or two artificial eggs as a binder if the mix is too loose for your preference.

Mix beans, chickpeas, rice, butter, coconut milk, basil, oregano, bouillon, tamarind, tahini and sweet stuff in a medium mixing bowl. Use a potato masher, and mash until most of the beans have broken. The texture will still be chunky.Start by searing off the hot peppers if you’re using fresh chilies. Empty the pan, and add chopped fresh mushrooms; cook until the mushrooms reduce and change color, becoming browned. Saute carrots until browned on one side, then add onion and garlic, and cook them until the onions turn clear and the garlic softens. Add the sauteed veggies to the mixing bowl. Mash until the mix is uniform.

Form the mix into patties. Brown them over medium-low heat. The patties hold their shape well, brown and crisp nicely. They’re great with pasta and sauce, in a sandwich or eaten alone. The “meat” can be substituted into many recipes that call for cooked ground beef.

Jimmy’s Notes:

Texture depends primarily on the ratio of beans to mushrooms. Add more mushrooms and you get a meatier burger; more beans still makes a good dish, but the texture is more like refried beans. You can substitute other types of beans for the black beans and get different flavors, but keep the chickpeas for extra fiber and texture regular beans don’t have. Sear the vegetables but don’t cook them until they’re soft. They’ll cook a little more when you brown the burger patties.

If you don’t know the different types of rice, sticky or sweet brown rice is a short grain or pearl type, and  has a glutinous (but gluten-free) texture when cooked. This type helps hold the patty together and adds to the meatiness. Long grain brown rice doesn’t have that sticky quality and makes the patties fall apart.

Alice noted that the tamarind extract is tricky to measure and it is. It’s a black, tarry syrup made from tamarind pods, and it’s extremely tart, very acidic. Don’t be afraid to taste a tiny bit to get an idea. Brands vary considerably in intensity. Add a little to the recipe, not a lot, and if you don’t notice a tanginess in the end product you can add a little more next time. Too much will wrinkle the inside of your stomach. Fall back to the Chinese mustard for that added punch if the tamarind falls short.

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