Vegetarian cooking can get a bad rap. For those who aren't regularly preparing meals without meat I think the 1970s, macrame plant holder beside the Moosewood cookbook halo still lingers. In reality, vegetarians have long since had a total makeover. There wouldn't be books called Skinny Bitch in the Kitch if they hadn't. Seriously, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's recipes are great! Even though I'm committed to cooking a few meatless meals each week I do tend to think of them as the most virtuous dishes I'm going to feed my family. But what about fun stuff? Like burgers. I love them. So, so much. I'm the person who'd rather have a burger than a steak at a barbecue. I like the idea of a veggie burger but so often I find they taste of seasoning rather than beans or veggies and certainly not like meat. I love this black bean version. They're satisfyingly savoury but the black beans really come through. Zesty rather than spicy, they've got a Latin bent. My kids are going through a stage where their spice threshold is extremely low. But these were winners with everyone. Plus, they come together quickly. And they're fun, damn it.
photos by Maya Visnyei
Black Bean Burgers
2 x 14 oz. cans of black beans
1/4 cup of panko (or plain breadcrumbs)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp oil
Rinse the black beans in a colander.
Dump one can of beans, panko, cumin, oregano, cayenne and the egg into a blender. Pulse it together until it forms a goopy past. I find I have to stop once every few pulses and give it all a stir so that the top gets as much puree-ing as the bottom.
Empty the blender contents into a bowl. Stir in the other can of beans and the cilantro. Use your hands to form into patties. Don't make them too big or you'll have hard time with flipping.
Heat oil in a pan to medium then gently place your patties in. Don't monkey with them once they're in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes a side. Once you're close to 5 minutes on the first side, start sliding a thin, flexible spatula under to loosen them away from the pan. You know what Julia Child said, you need the courage of your convictions when flipping! And if it breaks, just piece it together and no one is the wiser. A great and wise one was Julia. Serve on a bun with your favourite toppings, like tomato, avocado, lettuce, salsa, spicy mayo. Better yet, just put it all out on the table and let your family build their own burgers.