Monday, April 4, 2011

Black Bean Burgers and Chili-Cumin Sweet Potato Fries

I don't know what took me so long to try this.  I have always loved veggie burgers and you can often find a box of Boca Burgers or some Morningstar Farms in my freezer.  That was until Christmas when my sister gave me the cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman (thanks, Elise!).  After realizing how easy (and insanely cheap--the most expensive thing in them is a can of beans and a handful of shredded cheese) it is to make my own veggie burgers, I will be hard pressed to shell out for pre-made ones again (and will not be able to bring myself to order another one at Chili's restaurant the rare time I find myself there!).  Also, you probably have everything on hand to make some variation of bean burgers right now.  How is that for a healthy desperation dinner?  See this recipe as just a starting off point and feel free to come up with your own variations using different beans and seasonings. 

Black Bean Burgers
2 cups well-cooked black beans (or 1 14oz can, drained)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 cup rolled oats (or cooked brown rice or dry breadcrumbs)
1 egg
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or both! They each act as binders to help form the patties and cheese adds great flavor)
liquid as needed (water, milk, stock, wine, etc. if necessary--not likely)
olive oil or vegetable oil as needed

Burger Fixings: (we used toasted buns and dressed them with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado and crumbled goat cheese)

Directions: Combine beans, onion, oats, seasonings, egg and cheese in a food processor or blender and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if needed to produce a moist but not wet mixture (if yours is too wet, you can add some more oats or breadcrumbs.  Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.  With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and allow to rest again if time allows.  You can also make the mixture and refrigerate up to a day ahead (just bring to room temperature before cooking).  Pour a couple tablespoons of oil into a large nonstick or cast iron skillet.  Turn the heat to medium and allow to heat for about a minute.  Add patties and cook until browned on one side (about 5 minutes).  Turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.  Melt additional cheese on top if desired.

Suggestions: Add up to 1/2 cup veggies (more and they'll be too wet or have a hard time staying together).  Spinach, carrots, bell peppers, corn, cooked potato or sweet potato, etc. are great.  Cut into chunks and add with the onion.

Variation: Use a can of white beans, omit chili powder and cumin.  Substitute 1 teaspoon rosemary or Italian seasoning.  Add 1 cup cooked spinach (or 2 cups fresh), 1/2 cup quartered mushrooms and 1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, crumbled feta or goat cheese (or any combination).  Mix and cook as directed.

Also, you can use your bean to form into smaller "meatball" shapes and serve with sauce and pasta or cook into crumbles to use as a filling for tacos, burritos, sandwiches, topping for pizza.  You are only limited by your imagination!

Recipe Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

p.s. We served these with Chili-Cumin Sweet Potato Fries.  To make, toss cut sweet potatoes in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until evenly coated.  Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Roast in a 425 degree oven flipping occasionally until browned on the outside and tender inside (25-45 minutes, depending on size of the fries).  Sprinkle with ground cumin, chili powder and additional salt to taste.

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