Mallow Leaf & White Bean Burgers – Vegan Recipe

Happy 2015!

Instead of egg, this recipe for vegan bean burgers uses mallow leaves and mushrooms to bind the other ingredients.

Where am I foraging for wild ingredients in January? Well, the new year finds me happily ensconced in Jerusalem with my bf. I’m a lucky lass: I left NYC just as winter ended the foraging season there, and just in time to catch it in full swing here. This haul is from yesterday’s foraging foray:

Clockwise from bottom: mallow, wild fennel, pennywort, wild chamomile, eryngo, and blewit, suillus, and saffron milk cap mushrooms

Clockwise from bottom: mallow, wild fennel, pennywort, wild chamomile, eryngo, and blewit, suillus, and saffron milk cap mushrooms

The leaves in the foreground are mallow, one of the most abundant wild edible plants here right now. There are several edible mallow species. The one in this photo is Malva sylvestris.

Come spring, mallow will also be popping up all over North America and Europe (it is one of the 120 wild edibles I feature in Northeast Foraging).

027_Common Mallow_LMeredith

Malva neglecta, a common mallow species in North America

Here in Israel, mallow is called chubeza and is sold by Arab women on the steps of the Old City in Jerusalem. If you go on one of these Culinary Adventures in the Galilee, Druze ladies will teach you how they use this wild vegetable.

But as with “weeds” everywhere, most people ignore this useful plant. Those who do try it are often put off by the mucilaginous texture of the cooked leaves. That very property, however, is useful as an egg-like binder in vegan recipes such as these burgers. I’m not vegan, but many of my friends are, and I’m always looking for ways to use the most abundant wild edibles around me.

In this recipe I combine mallow with another wild food that is in abundance here right now. Suillus granulatus is a wild edible mushroom that, like mallow, is sometimes snubbed because it is mucilaginous. I use it here as additional binding ingredient (and there’s not even a hint of sliminess in the cooked patties). If you don’t have Suillus mushrooms, try one of these other options:

1) Include any other edible mushroom for flavor, but add a beaten egg and an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs as a binder, or 2) substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup mashed potato for the mushrooms (you’ll probably need to increase the amount of spices and salt if you use potato as the binder).

mallow burgers

mallow burgers

Mallow Leaf and White Bean Burgers

Makes 20 mini burgers, about 4 servings


2 quarts (lightly packed) fresh mallow leaves

1 cup finely chopped Suillus granulatus or other mushroom

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 cups cooked white beans (other types of beans would work, too)

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, divided

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Add just enough water to a large pot to cover the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the mallow leaves. Stir the mallow leaves until all of them are wilted, then cook until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary to keep the leaves from sticking to the pot. Drain in a colander and immediately rinse under cold water. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can and then finely chop the mass of cooked mallow leaves (they will have shrunk significantly from the cooking and squeezing).

2. While the mallow leaves are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook over medium low heat, stirring often, for 7 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

3. Mash the beans. You can pulse them in a food processor, or use a potato masher or even a fork. They don’t need to be perfectly smooth. Add the cooked vegetables and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, along with all of the seasonings except for the garlic powder. Stir to combine well.

4. Mix the rest of the bread crumbs with a little additional salt and pepper and the garlic powder. Spread the seasoned bread crumbs on a plate.

5. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time and lightly shape into a mini burger about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly press the mini burger into the bread crumbs to coat both sides. Set aside on another plate. Continue until all of the veggie burger mixture is used up. Do not be tempted to make the burgers larger: even with the mallow and mushrooms as binders, they will fall apart if you make them too big.

6. Place the plate of mini veggie burgers into the refrigerator, uncovered, for 30 minutes. This step goes a long way toward helping them hold together while they cook.

7. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the burgers, making sure to leave a little space in between each of them. The in-between space ensures that they will brown, not steam, and also makes it easier to flip when the first side is done.

Cook until the first side is browned, about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook on the second side for an additional few minutes. Transfer to a heat proof dish and keep warm in a 225F oven while you cook any remaining mallow burgers.


How to Can, Culture, Pickle, Freeze, Ferment, Dehydrate, Salt, Smoke, and Store Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, Milk, and MorePreserving Everything

“This is an essential book for anyone interested in food preservation.” – Ellen Zachos

120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries

120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries

Northeast Foraging 

“A book that wild food gatherers of all skill levels will want to own.” – Sam Thayer


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