Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Hey, remember a couple(ish) weeks ago when I was like, "Vacation, baby, yeah! Time to catch up on my food blog! Woo-hoo!"? I had the best of intentions, seriously. But, well, I got super sick for about a third of the trip, and then there were weddings to attend and Happiest Places on Earth to visit and pools to christen and old, dear, wonderful loved ones with whom hugging, laughing, endless talking, dining, drinking, and maybe even attending yoga classes were in order. And it all made me a liar, which I generally am not. If it weren't so fun (except for strep or strep-like illness, which, on the contrary, totally cramped my style), I'd be mortified.

To make up for it, I've finally got that veggie burger recipe for you that I promised approximately nineteen days ago.

black bean burger open face

It is almost perfect. What makes it not quite perfect - and what particularly saddens me this instant, as I enjoy this sultry day with a little alone time while the family's napping, blogging from my patio, savoring the nearly-but-not-quite overpowering smell of someone grilling a few floors below - is that it's totally not grillable. And, not having a grill, and not being a food scientist or even an especially seasoned or educated cook, I'm not sure how to adjust the recipe to make the burgers sturdier. So, for now anyway, stovetop it is. (Bonus: cleanest stovetop cooking ever because there is no cooking oil required.)

black bean burger prep
black bean burger close up
black bean burger ready to eat!

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from The Washington Post
Yield: 8 burgers

4 cups cooked, rinsed and drained black beans (about 2 or 3 cans)
½ to 1 teaspoon each of spices of your choice, e.g. cumin, coriander, oregano, turmeric, amchur powder
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce + 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup wheat germ (or more breadcrumbs)
5-6 scallions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and 5 tablespoons water. Set aside.

Place 2 cups of the black beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and dry spices of your choice. Pulse a few times or process on low until everything is well combined; you want a hummus-like consistency here. Transfer pureed, spiced beans to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining whole black beans, plus chipotle chile and adobo sauce, panko, wheat germ, scallions, cilantro, salt and pepper, flaxseed-water mixture, and mix until well combined.

Using your hands, portion the mixture into patties about 3/4-inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter. Place patties in refrigerator or freezer for about fifteen minutes.

When ready to cook, remove patties from refrigerator or freezer. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat, no need to use oil; when it is hot but not smoking, add burgers to dry pan. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes on first side or until well seared and with a flipping spatula, turn onto second side and allow to cook for an additional five minutes.

Serve immediately with hamburger buns (or, um, bread, like in the pictures - don't want to be a hypocrite!), queso fresco or shredded monterey jack cheese, avocado, salsa, or anything else you like.

Notes: (1) If the yield is greater than what you need on the day you make these, they hold up best if you cook them first and then keep them in the refrigerator – mine were in there for over a week and were fine. They would freeze well too. Just thaw them in the refrigerator the night before you'd like to use them and then microwave them for about a minute. (2) These are the best black bean burgers I've ever had. Like better than the British Burger King's spicy black bean burgers and the ones available at most American bars as the token non-salad vegetarian option. And if you make them using dry beans the way I recommended toward the end of this post (and, it's so worth it, so please do), they are super cheap as well. Best yet, they only have 113 calories per burger and every calorie is good for you. (3) These burgers are vegan. If you don't have flaxseed meal and don't mind making them non-vegan, use 2 eggs in place of the flaxseed/water combo. (4) If you don't have a food processor (Meg), you can use a potato masher to mash the beans. It'll just be a little more of a work out than above approach provides. Sometimes a little work out makes food taste better though. (5) In case you didn't read preface, I'll reiterate: they are not sturdy enough for grilling. Sorry folks.

P.S. This is my 50th post. Do you think an index would be helpful or should I wait until post 100? I don't want a sad-looking, sparsely populated index, you know?


  1. Did the eggs not make them sturdy enough? It looks yummy and together!
    I will have to try these v. soon

  2. Good point mom - I didn't use eggs, but eggs probably would make them sturdier. They aren't super flimsy - they stayed intact while being devoured - I just don't think they'd survive grilling in one piece.

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