When I was little, we ate out at fast food places often, but we only went to real restaurants when my Poppop visited. We would almost always go to a place called Charley’s Other Brother, and I would order chicken teriyaki and a Shirley Temple. I always looked forward to Poppop’s visits, and I loved going out to eat.
I know that there would be no vegan choices for me if I were to dine at Charley’s Other Brother today, but I was sad to see that it had closed when I looked it up recently. It felt like a little piece of my childhood was gone. There’s now a restaurant called O’Connor’s American Bar and Grille in its place. I didn’t see any teriyaki on the menu, but I did notice that they had a black bean burger and a grilled veggie wrap, so it’s nice to see that things have changed for the better.
In my early 20s when I was transitioning to vegetarianism, Poppop and I went to visit my aunt in California. We went to a dinner that only served burgers. You could get a burger made pretty much any way you could imagine. They had peanut butter and jelly burgers, a chili cheese burger, and yes, even a teriyaki burger. Diners had the option of beef burgers, turkey burgers, or veggie burgers. I had my very first veggie burger there, and of course I ordered it teriyaki style, complete with grilled pineapple. I still remember it fondly, even though I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant.
With that very first veggie burger in mind, I created my own recipe for Teriyaki Black Bean Burgers. These burgers take me back to that very first veggie burger, and enjoying the sunshine of California with Poppop.
- I medium sweet potato
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- ¼ cup oat flour or rolled oats that have been ground in a food processor or blender, plus more if needed
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 1 red onion, sliced into rings
- 8 pineapple rings
- 4 burger buns
- Lettuce leaves
- Tomato slices
- Spicy vegan mayo, optional
- Preheat oven to 425°. Prick the sweet potato with a fork a few times. Place it directly on the oven rack and let it back for about half an hour, or until fork tender. If you’re worried about juices escaping the sweet potato, put a piece of foil on an oven rack under it. Don’t steam or boil the sweet potato, as it will be it too watery. Remove the potato from the oven and allow it to cool.
- Lower the oven temperature to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Peel the skin from the sweet potato and mash in a large bowl. You’ll want about a cup of mashed sweet potato.
- Add the black beans, oat flour, scallions, garlic, tamari, pineapple juice, sesame seeds, ginger, sesame oil, and cornstarch to the bowl. Mix everything together, mashing as you go. If the mixture seems too moist, add a little more oat flour a tablespoon at a time.
- Form the mixture into four patties and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the burgers and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
- While the burgers are cooking, heat the oil in a grill pan or large skillet over medium high heat. Place the red onion rings and pineapple rings in the pan and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side. If you’re using a grill pan, you’ll want nicely browned grill lines. If you’re using a skillet, cook until the onions and pineapple slices are golden on each side.
- Serve the burgers on buns with the grilled onions and pineapple slices. Top with lettuce, tomato, and spicy mayo, if using.