Black bean burgers

The snow is mostly gone, so I can go back to pretending it’s full-on springtime and make some recipes that remind me of barbecues and farmers markets. Right?

This one is a favorite. I wasn’t over the moon for it at first, but I tweaked it over time until I got it right.

I’ve been trying to get away from buying meat-like products at the grocery store. While they are vegetarian, they are just as processed as all the other crap I try not to buy. And I’m really trying to stick to Michael Pollan’s simple instruction: eat food.

But veggie burgers are tricky. They rarely hold together the way ground beef does. They can be crumbly and dry. They can be full of mushrooms, which I don’t love. These black bean burgers, if prepared correctly, are pretty great. The keys, I think, are to chop up your veggies extra small, squish the beans into an almost paste, and make sure that you have enough binder – either an egg, or some applesauce, if you want them vegan.

Here’s the version I stuck with (makes about 5 burgers):

Black bean burgers
adapted from a recipe on vegweb.com

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup oats
1/2 a small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg or a couple spoonfuls of applesauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of your pan
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Mash up the beans with a potato masher or fork. Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, oats, egg or applesauce, salt, pepper and Worcestershire and mix until combined.

On a separate plate, combine the flour and cornmeal.

Preheat a large skillet to just a little over medium heat, and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. I like to add a little bit of butter, as well.

Take a handful of the bean mixture, a little smaller than a baseball, and flatten it into a patty. Roll the patty in the flour/cornmeal mixture and then drop it into the hot pan.

Cook for about four minutes on each side, or until a light brown crust forms. If you like, melt cheese on top before serving.

We got some more of those bright orange organic sweet potatoes at the store today, so I made some sweet potato fries to go with our burgers.

These were so great. Even if you love a regular meat burger, you can still change it up from time to time.