Friday, August 6, 2010

Black Bean Burgers and "Fries"

As I’ve mentioned before, I was raised by vegetarian parents and didn’t eat meat until I was about twelve or so. I guess you could say that my adolescent rebellion took the form of chicken nuggets and, like most adolescent rebellions, was pretty short-lived. Turns out that my early tofu-filled years resulted in my not really having a strong hankering for meat. I love barbecue ribs and chicken wings, but more often than not I pick the seafood or veggie option if given a choice.

I made these burgers because I wanted a meatless alternative to hamburgers that wasn’t overly processed and filled with all kinds of crazy ingredients. Needless to say, these are not the thing to eat if you’re craving beef (because, obviously, they taste like beans), but if all you’re after is the burger experience (bun, patty, toppings) then give them a try. I’ve been surprised to see how many people have preferred this option when we’ve offered both the bean and beef varieties at barbecues this summer.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s very adaptable to your personal tastes. Want spicy burgers? Add a diced jalapeno or chili powder to the equation. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out. I like the mix of spices listed below but if you don’t then feel free to change it up. I usually serve these burgers on Earth Grains thin buns, topped with a spread of either hummus or mayo and some fresh veggies (or sauteed onions and peppers are absolutely divine).

Black Bean Burgers (from

1 (30 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place black beans in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until of desired consistency.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
3. Divide into 6-8 equal portions and shape into patties.
4. Place patties on a medium-hot grill for several minutes per side.

Oven-Baked Fries
I hesitate even calling this a recipe because it is so simple, but here you go. You can use this same method for Sweet Potatoes as well.

2 medium-sized russet potatoes (or however many you need)
Scant tablespoon olive oil (or enough to lightly coat the potatoes)
Seasoning of your choice (I use Johnny’s seasoning salt).

1)Scrub potatoes well and cut into wedges, strips, whatever you want.
2) Toss potatoes in olive oil until thinly coated and place on a baking sheet. (you may be tempted to just toss the potatoes and oil on the baking sheet but I find that the potatoes get soggy if they have any excess oil on them).
3) Sprinkle liberally with seasoning and bake at 450 degress for 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

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