Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Southwest-Style Black Bean Burgers

I have an exciting success story to share with you all!  We made Southwest-Style Black Bean Burgers for dinner last night and they were delicious.  Even though I very likely overuse the word "delicious" on this blog, trust me when I say these were great burgers.  Especially given the fact that--let's face it--most veggie burgers aren't that great, I was very pleased with how these came out.  (More on that in the comments section below.)

I've been hesitant to make homemade veggie burgers in the past for a couple reasons.  First, my general experience with fake-meat balls hasn't been great (they are often crumbly and fall apart).  Second, as I said above, veggie burgers just don't strike my fancy very often.  Sure, I'll have a veggie burger at a barbecue when everyone else is enjoying grilled hamburgers, but they've never been something I'd seek out...until now, that is!

Black Bean Burger on a bun, topped with tomato, caramelized onions, and spinach

Without further ado...

Southwest-Style Black Bean Burgers
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup ground cornmeal
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups canned black beans (drain and rinse the beans before measuring)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or other vegan bread crumbs)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

First, mix together the flour and cornmeal on plate and set aside.

Next, heat the oil and garlic over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.  Once the garlic begins to sizzle, add the onion, peppers, and oregano and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to brown.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the black beans with a potato masher or large fork.  Stir in the onion/pepper mixture, corn, bread crumbs, chili powder, cumin, salt, and parsley and mix well.

Then shape the bean mixture into six evenly-sized patties.  Coat each patty on both sides with the flour/cornmeal mixture.

To cook the patties over the stove, heat a large, lightly-oiled skillet over medium/medium-high heat and cook the burgers for about 7 minutes on each side, or until browned and heated through.  (Even if you're using a non-stick pan, it's still important that you add a little oil to the pan to help the burgers brown.)

Serve hot on a bun with your favorite burger toppings.  Yields 6 burgers.

These are probably some of the best veggie burgers I've tasted during my 4.5 years as a vegan.  The flour/cornmeal coating allows the burgers to get a nice brown crisp on the outside and add a little texture.  I really like that the burgers are bean-based (rather than soy-, potato-, or lentil-based, for instance) because the beans provide "meaty" substance and protein as well as some binding power, working together with the bread crumbs to hold everything together.  I also like the Southwest flavor twist (and I think they'd be incredible topped with sliced avocado and/or salsa), though I do wish they were a bit spicier.  You could incorporate the jalapeno seeds into the mixture for hotter burger.  
This recipe calls for some pretty standard ingredients.  This dish can also accommodate different seasonal specialties and personal preferences pretty well.  If you have fresh corn, by all means, use fresh rather than frozen corn.  If the grocery store's fresh parsley looks iffy, use dried parsley.  If you want to increase or decrease the heat, use more or less jalapeno.  If you prefer to use a green pepper rather than a red pepper to save money, go for it!  And of course, use whatever toppings you like. 
 Ease of Preparation:    
I was surprised at how easy these burgers were to make, and they don't require any special equipment.  They do take a bit longer to prepare than a frozen veggie burger, but it's worth it.  
Non-Vegan friendliness:     
Rachel and Simon both liked the burgers as well.  Rachel exclaimed several times throughout dinner about how good they were, in fact.  Simon did melt cheese onto his burger, but that just goes to show that these burgers can please everyone.  These burgers would be very appropriate for any upcoming spring or summer barbecues, and I might make them again for Memorial Day.  (Be cautious if you do decide to grill these: it's possible that they might fall apart when cooked over widely-spaced grill rungs.  On the other hand, they held together well in the pan, so it's worth a try.)

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