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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Love Heat? Make Arlyn Llewellyn’s Veggie Burger

Our first recipe of 2017 goes out to all of you who have made the promise to eat less meat in the new year. This veggie burger is vegan, spicy and hearty.

This veggie sandwich has it all: arugula, pickled jalapenos and cheese. Chef Arlyn Llewellyn says avocado make a perfect substitute for the cheese, if you want it vegan.

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First thing to know about this recipe is that it takes a lot of time to make.

That’s okay with Chef Arlyn Llewellyn because she likes tackling big projects in the kitchen by herself. “I just really enjoy… being able to reflect in my head as I’m doing it and not making small-talk with coworkers.”

This recipe starts in the oven and ends at the panini press. The kitchen at Function Brewing doesn’t have a stove, so most of their dishes begin and end at these appliances. There are certain steps that can be accomplished in a saute pan on a stove (i.e. browning the patties before the sandwich is assembled), and Llewellyn gives you her blessing to do just that.

Function specializes in sandwiches, which means they end up with lots of excess bread. “We make as many croutons as we possible can, but we still have extra bread, so we’re always trying to figure out what to do with it,” she says. Good thing this recipe calls for bread crumbs. She pulses slightly-past-their-prime slices in the food processor until they become crumbs.

Roasted pinto beans, peppers and onions are the “meat” of the recipe. Since it’s vegan, her binding ingredient is liquid from the beans. She explains that ¼ cup of bean liquid equals one egg. “You can use it in baking as well as an egg substitute.”

The spice comes from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and her homemade jalapeño refrigerator pickles. There’s an extra kick of flavor from her roasted garlic aioli.

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Vegan Veggie Burgers


  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained (liquid reserved), rinsed and drained again
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup roasted cashews
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons reserved garlic roasting oil
  • 1/4 cup bean liquid
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs or ground croutons
  • Fine sea salt (1 teaspoon plus more to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • two slices of bread (Llewellyn likes to use rye)
  • roasted garlic aioli (link to this recipe above)
  • arugula
  • pickled jalapeños
  • pepper jack cheese or avocado


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread pinto beans out on a sheet pan. Place in oven and roast until beans are beginning to split open and skins are slightly crunchy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. While beans roast, place minced onion and bell pepper on a sheet pan and toss with vegetable oil until evenly coated. Roast vegetables in oven with beans for approximately 10 minutes until fully translucent and just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Place cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped into large crumb size pieces. Place in a bowl with the cooled onions and peppers.
  5. When beans are slightly cooled, transfer to food processor. Add garlic, chipotles, roasted garlic cloves, and remaining five ingredients. Pulse until mixture comes together as a coarse puree. (It should have the consistency of crunchy peanut butter.) Transfer to bowl with onions, peppers, and cashews. Fold together gently by hand and taste for seasoning.
  6. Then, turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Line sheet pan with parchment and lightly coat with oil. Form the bean mixture into half-inch thick patties and place on sheet pan. Bake for 8 minutes, until the patties begin to slightly brown on the bottom side. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before assembling the sandwich.
  7. Spread roasted garlic aioli on both slices of bread. Pick one slice as the bottom and top it with arugula and the slightly-cooled veggie patty. On top of the patty, distribute the pickled jalapeños and top with pepper jack cheese. Place the other slice of bread on top of the cheese and cook on a panini press or in a skillet until cheese has melted.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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