26th April, 2011 - Posted by admin - No Comments
When I was in college, I fell in with a rough crowd of vegetarians. They had an interesting outlook on food – after giving up meat for a variety of perfectly valid reasons, they then filled their diets – not with fruits and vegetables – but with various fake meat products.
Eating with them was just depressing. Rather than meals full of vegetables bursting with flavor, we ate fake corn dogs, imitation bacon and vegan “cheese”. (I have a theory that vegan cheese is a bar bet that got horribly out of hand.)
To each their own, but life seems way to short to eat tofurkey when we have been given eggplant, roasted bell peppers and sugar snap peas with mint. There is also a subset of vegetarians that seem to believe that all vegetarian food must be bland. Thankfully, this group seems to be shrinking.
Of course, there is room in everyone’s diet for less meat and more plant-based fare. Americans eat more meat than most of the world and we have a tendency to build our meals around the “large piece of meat with sides” model. Part of this is due to the fact that meat in this country is quite a bit cheaper than in the rest of the world. Where other countries treat beef and pork as flavoring ingredients, we use them as the main event.
With grilling season about to open, this would be a great time to start looking at ways to reduce the amount of red meat in our diets. A great place to start is with burgers. Rather than buying garden burgers, consider making customized black bean burgers.
Black beans have a rich, earthy flavor that stands up well against more robust spice combinations. They are also seriously cheap and a great protein substitute.
The recipe below makes four generously sized burgers or six smaller versions. To make it vegan friendly, substitute regular mayonnaise for a vegan version. Don’t skip it entirely, since it’s the only ingredient holding everything together. The spices are mostly a suggestion. Chipotle seasoning or a packet of dried burger seasonings would work just as well and still taste great.
The directions say to mix everything in a food processor. I used a pastry cutter and it worked great. A potato masher would also do the job, so don’t feel bound by a lack of equipment.
Once everything is mixed, form patties and put on either a hot grill or into a lightly oil pan. One of the advantages of vegetarian cooking is that it really doesn’t matter much if things are a little undercooked. So cook these for a couple minutes on each side, then serve while hot.
They can be served up animal style with grilled onion and wrapped in lettuce, or more traditionally on a bun with all the stuff. They pair really well with salsa and sour cream.
Go forth and eat joyfully.
Black Bean Burgers
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 soft hamburger buns
Pulse 1 can beans in a food processor with mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, and cayenne until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cilantro and remaining can beans. Form mixture into 4 patties.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Serve on buns.