I’ve made tons of meatless burgers since becoming a part-time vegan, and they’re always better than store-bought. Almost as convenient too: Just double or triple the batch and freeze the burgers on a wax paper–lined tray until solid; then wrap them up and keep them frozen for a rainy day. You could also have them on a whole-grain bun.
1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 (or more) garlic cloves
1 pound mushrooms (like cremini or button), trimmed and halved
½ cup pecans (or any other nut you like)
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 cups torn lettuce or other salad greens
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
½ large red onion, sliced into thin rings
Put the oats in a food processor and let the machine run until they’re ground to a coarse meal, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a large bowl.
Pulse the garlic in the food processor (no need to wash it first) until the cloves are broken up a bit, then add the mushrooms. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the bowl with the oats. Put the nuts in the food processor (again, no need to wash it) and let the machine run until they’re ground to a thick paste, adding water a teaspoon at a time if necessary just to let the machine do its job; be careful not to make the mixture too wet. Scrape the nut butter into the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir with the spatula, pressing and folding as you work until the ingredients are distributed evenly. Refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes, then make four patties.
Put the oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick or cast-iron) over medium heat.When it’s hot, add the burgers and cook, undisturbed, until they’re browned on the bottom and release evenly from the pan, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the burgers, lower the heat a bit, and cook on the other side until firm and browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Remove the burgers and return the pan to the heat with the lemon juice and ½ cup water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens a bit. Serve the burgers on a bed of lettuce, drizzled with the pan sauce and topped with the tomatoes and onions.
Instead of the nuts, grind together ¼ cup chopped walnuts and ¼ cup any miso.use several fresh ginger slices instead of the garlic and add 1 or more tablespoons soy sauce to the pan sauce with the lemon juice in Step 5.
Use tahini instead of the nuts and add it to the mixture in Step 3. Substitute cumin for the chili powder.
Mark Bittman is the author of more than 20 acclaimed books, including the “How to Cook Everything” series. He wrote for The New York Times for more than two decades, and became the country’s first food-focused op-ed columnist for a major news publication. He has hosted two television series and been featured in two others, including the Emmy-winning “Years of Living Dangerously.” Bittman is currently the special adviser on food policy at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the editor-in-chief of Heated.