The uncooked burger mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. The formed, baked patties can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 year; reheat them in the microwave or pan-fry them.
Vital wheat gluten, by companies such as Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills, can be found in natural foods stores and some Whole Foods Markets or online.
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped (4 cups)
2 pounds white or cremini mushrooms
4 cups cooked black (preferably) or brown rice (use vegetable broth homemade or store-bought, not water)
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons white miso
1½ tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3 to 3½ cups vital wheat gluten
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add 4 tablespoons of the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large mixing bowl. Wipe out the skillet but no need to wash it; you'll be using it again soon.
Rinse the mushrooms and use dish towels to dry them thoroughly. Trim and coarsely chop them, then transfer to a food processor. Puree, working in batches, and add them to the onions as you work.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add the rice, soy sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, white miso, dried basil, pepper, thyme and liquid smoke to the mixing bowl, blending them in thoroughly with your clean hands. Sprinkle the wheat gluten evenly over the mix. Immediately and vigorously work in the gluten, again using your hands. (Gluten starts to set up almost instantly when it comes into contact with moisture, so work as fast -- and as thoroughly -- as you can.) The mixture will very quickly change texture and become stretchy. If the mixture seems too wet and not stretchy enough, sprinkle on a more wheat gluten, ¼ cup at a time, and knead it in until the desired texture is achieved.
Use a heaping ½ cup of the mixture to form patties about ½-inch thick, arranging them on baking sheets as you work. Bake until they firm up slightly, about 20 minutes (see note).
Set your skillet over medium-high heat, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil shimmers, use a spatula to gently transfer three or four patties to the pan (working in batches, as needed) and cook until the undersides are dark brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip them carefully and repeat. Serve on buns, with your favorite accompaniments.
Note: In testing, we found that the burgers held better together when baked first, then pan-fried, but you can skip the pan-frying step for the burgers you want to make immediately, then bake the remainder before refrigerating or freezing for another time.
Makes 18 servings
Nutrition | Per burger: 260 calories, 18 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar
Adapted from "Vegan Food for the Rest of Us: Recipes Even You Will Love," by Ann Hodgman (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).