Monday, November 12, 2012

Black bean burgers

A few weeks ago, my parents drove into the city for a nice Sunday visit.  I was officially joining a church (only the second ever in my lifetime -- crazy, right?), and they joined Matt to watch me take my vows in front of the congregation. After the lovely service, our stomachs were growling and the usual spread of cookies in the parish hall wasn't going to do it for any of us.  Wanting to stay within walking distance, I knew of just the place.

I'd been to Up Modern Kitchen twice for dinner but never for brunch or lunch.  My parents ordered brunch, while Matt and I made a bee line for the burger section of the menu.  Beef burger for him, of course.  And for her?  A house-made veggie burger.

'scuse me?

Yes, a veggie burger.  I honestly can't tell you what I was thinking at that moment, since it was weeks ago, but something stirring deep within me wanted a non-meat burger.  I suppose stranger things have happened.

Like Justin Timberlake being a married man.  Seriously, can we talk about this?!  Yes, the fact that a former teen pop idol is now hitched certainly falls under "stranger things."  You and I both know you don't come here for hard-hitting news.

But, the veggie burger!  I asked the waitress for more details, basically to confirm that it wasn't some pre-packaged thing.  She gave what was probably a very coherent description of the burger, but I zoned out and picked up on only a few choice words.  Mushrooms.  Black beans.  Roasted red pepper.

"Yes, I'll have that please."  Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I interrupted her.  Sorry, miss waitress.  I'm sure you are a very well-mannered human being.  I apologize for not being one.  I blame my stomach.

A short time later, our food arrived.  Matt assured me that because it wasn't meat, my entree wasn't a burger.  But, with my first bite, I was ushered into veggie burger heaven!  At least that's what I think the sign said... the details were a bit fuzzy in my burger bliss.

Aside from a dirty look in Matt's direction, I wasted no time in persuading him of the deliciousness I was enjoying.  I didn't even offer him a bite of my burger.  This was not a case of "what's mine is yours" but "what's mine will be gone before it can ever be yours."   I'm a great wife.  And I'm also a veggie burger convert!

Since then, I've been dying to recreate these meatless burgers at home.  Many recipes assured me that making black bean burgers at home was as easy as making a batch of pancakes -- and they were totally spot on!

Blend, stir, divide, and cook (I originally typed cookie...), dress, and devour.  It couldn't have been any easier.  Only if Justin himself made the burgers for me while I quizzed him about his Italian nuptials.  No, I don't have a thing for JT, never did.  I'm just saying that's the only way burger-making could've been easier :)

There's no way I can possibly describe how satisfying and filling these burgers were.  You've just got to try one for yourself.  The patties were huge!  And so full of flavor.  Sweet corn, smoky cumin, salty black beans.    Plus, when has the addition of buttery homemade guacamole and chunky salsa ever done a food wrong?  Mm hmm.

Consider these black bean burgers Katy-approved AND Matt-approved.  The tell-tale signs of this guy's approval?  Silence while eating, and a request for seconds.  He later changed his mind regarding the latter because he was already "so full" and decided to save it for lunch the next day.

By the way, lunch the next day was outstanding!  Even without extra salsa and guacamole, these burgers were so moist and delicious.  Even my coworkers were asking what smelled so good after I reheated my burger.  Unfortunately, this was another case of "what's mine will be gone before it can ever be yours."  I blame the black bean burgers.  I am powerless in the presence of good food!

One year ago: Turkey and cranberry panini
Two years ago: Ravioli with apples and toasted walnuts
Three years ago: Oatmeal raisin cookies

Black Bean Burgers
(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
-makes 4

Update: 11/15/12 - These are great on buns AND crumbled over a bed of greens with fresh veggies and salsa as dressing.  Try it!

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed, divided in half
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup corn (I used frozen, but canned/drained or fresh is fine, too)
1 Tablespoon + 1/4 cup chunky salsa, plus more for topping
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg white
1 ripe avocado
Garlic powder
4 buns, toasted

In a small food processor, combine half of the black beans, chopped onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and 1 Tablespoon salsa.  Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  (You can also mash the black beans and mince the onion and garlic and combine with spices.)  In a medium bowl, add black bean mixture, remaining black beans, corn, 1/4 cup salsa, bread crumbs, and egg white, and mix well until combined.

Heat a large grill pan or skillet (or griddle) over medium heat and coat generously with nonstick cooking spray.  Divide the mixture into four equal parts and form into patties and place onto skillet.  Cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, flipping carefully, until firm and golden brown.

As burgers cook, in a small bowl mash avocado with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.  Place cooked burgers on buns, top with mashed avocado and salsa.  Enjoy!  (I recommend a side of sweet potato fries for extra deliciousness.)

Freezing instructions: TBD.  I plan to make these again soon and will test how they freeze and report.


  1. Good job on these! I've been wanting to try one but was scared, although I think you just gave me the motivation I need :)


  2. Angela - Thank you! If it makes you feel any better, I was a little nervous about how these would turn out, too, but they were a big success. Can't wait to hear what you think!

    Hanlon7117 - A perfect pre- and post- Thanksgiving day meal. Healthy and filling without being stuffing!