Editor's Note: To celebrate Pride Month, we invited Andre Springer, a.k.a. Shaquanda Coco Mulatta, to develop two burger recipes that use Shaquanda's Hot Pepper Sauce, the line of hot sauces that pay homage to Andre's Brooklyn upbringing, his family’s Barbadian roots, and his identity as a drag queen.
Texture, flavor, and mouthfeel are the keys to a fantastic veggie burger, but that's where many bean burgers go wrong; they combine everything into a patty without much care or consideration, and the result is a mushy burger. This recipe, modeled on the approach Kenji used in his black bean burger recipe, focuses on how each individual ingredient can both offer flavor and texture, then combines them into a patty that delivers on all fronts.
The veggie patty starts with mushrooms that have been flavored with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil and then roasted to remove their high moisture content and deepen their savory flavor. The mushrooms are combined with yellow split peas, which have been boiled until they're just tender, but not mushy (they should still retain their shape), and then roasted in the oven until dry and a little crispy. The mushrooms and yellow split peas are then mixed with a a flavorful combination of sautéed onions with kale stems, tomato paste, and ground pine nuts for nutty depth.
I further flavor the mixture with my very own Oooohmami hot sauce, which combines spicy habanero heat with the sweetness of blackberries, blueberries, and caramelized onions, and the umami depth of black garlic. It's not an easy flavor to replicate, but in a pinch you could mix another chile-forward hot sauce with Worcestershire and a touch of sugar.
To take it even further over the top, I dress the veggie burgers with an oniony, herbal mayo packed with plenty of lemon, sweet relish, and a little more of my hot sauce to hit all the critical flavor notes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
- For the Sauce:
- 3 scallions, green parts only and white parts reserved for another use, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 3 fresh mint leaves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet relish (1 1/4 ounces; 35g)
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Shaquanda's Oooohmami Hot Pepper Sauce (see note)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (4 1/2 ounces; 120g)
- For the Patties:
- 1 1/2 pounds (680g) cremini mushrooms, stemmed and caps thinly sliced
- 6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup (7 3/4 ounces; 220g) dry yellow split peas (see note)
- Kosher salt
- 1 medium (8-ounce) yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cups finely diced kale stalks (2 ounces; 55g), from about 4-5 stalks (leaves reserved for another use)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste (3/4 ounce; 20g)
- 3/4 cup (4 ounces; 115g) pine nuts
- 1/4 cup cooked black rice (1 1/2 ounces/40g; see note)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Shaquanda's Oooohmami Hot Pepper Sauce (see note)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter or other cooking fat
- For Assembly:
- 8 brioche or hamburger buns, toasted
- Thinly sliced red onion rings
- Lettuce leaves
- Sandwich pickle rounds
For the Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together scallions, cilantro, mint, sweet relish, hot sauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, and mayonnaise until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Patties: Preheat oven to 400℉ (200℃) and set racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. In a medium bowl, toss mushrooms with 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Spread on a second rimmed baking sheet and bake until mushrooms have released their water, the water has evaporated, and the mushrooms are beginning to brown all over, about 35 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape mushrooms all over baking sheet, using their remaining moisture to deglaze surface.
Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, combine split peas with 6 cups water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain an active simmer until split peas are tender but still hold their shape, about 30 minutes. Drain, then transfer split peas to a heatproof bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil along with a pinch of salt. Spread split peas in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake until peas are very lightly toasted and exterior is beginning to dry out, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a 10-inch stainless-steel skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown all over, about 10 minutes. Add kale stalks and cook until softened, about 3 minutes longer.
Lower heat to medium-low, stir in tomato paste, and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste caramelizes and browns, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a food processor, pulse pine nuts until they are ground to a breadcrumb-like texture. Scrape into a large bowl.
In the same food processor bowl, pulse baked split peas until some are broken down to a breadcrumb-like texture and some remain whole, about three 2-second pulses; scrape into the bowl with the pine nuts. Add mushrooms to food processor and pulse until mostly broken down and smooth but with some small chunks remaining; scrape into the bowl with the pine nuts and split peas.
Add cooked onion-kale mixture, cooked black rice, and hot sauce to split pea–mushroom mixture, then gently fold until well combined. Season with salt. If the mixture is hot, let cool slightly, then fold in beaten eggs.
Form veggie burger mixture into 8 patties.
In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat half the butter (or other cooking fat) over medium heat until melted and foaming. Add 4 patties and cook, turning once halfway through, until well browned on both sides and heated through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining butter and patties.
To Assemble: Set a patty on the bottom half of each toasted hamburger bun. Spread the sauce on the top half of each bun. Top patties with sliced red onions, lettuce, and pickles, then close veggie burgers and serve.
Shaquanda's Oooohmami hot sauce mixes intense and fruity habanero peppers with blackberry juice, blueberries, caramelized onions, black garlic, and more. It's not an easy flavor profile to replicate, but in a pinch you can mix together 4 tablespoons of another chile-forward hot sauce, like Cholula Original, with 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
Yellow split peas are not the same as yellow lentils, although they look very similar.
Black rice is not the same as wild rice. To cook black rice, simmer 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces; 50g) dry black rice in ample water until tender. Drain well. This will yield roughly 1 cup of cooked black rice, which is more than you need for this recipe.
Make-ahead and Storage
The patties can be formed and refrigerated in a covered container overnight before cooking; separate patties with parchment paper to prevent sticking during storage.