Thursday, August 11, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

Summer is a time for grilling, cookouts, barbecues, picnics, and all manner of meat-centric gatherings.  In fact, I recently attended a party where the main event was a rather scientific preparation of the burgers, involving liquid nitrogen and deep frying.  Delicious (and potentially dangerous?) as it was, one may wonder about our social fascination with meat: is it always necessary?  (I suspect that our wonderful host would say that yes, it is.)

I'm certainly no vegan and probably never will be, but these black bean burgers from the Veganomicon are so good that I'd have no problem passing over the beef, (at least now and then).  If you're really craving a rare, juicy burger they might not quite hit the spot, but they might create a craving of their very own.  They're very easy to put together so it's no hassle to accommodate vegetarian and vegan friends without resorting to those gross frozen versions.  So take a break from the veggie kabobs, grilled portobello caps, and tofu dogs and try this vegan black bean burger instead!

- 1 can black beans (you can certainly make your own, but canned is really perfect for this recipe)
- 1/2 c. vital wheat gluten (find this at 'health food' type stores: Bob's Red Mill makes some)
- 1/2 c. bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste or ketchup
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1/2 c. onion, minced or grated

- Mash the beans with a fork in a mixing bowl so there are no whole beans but they retain some texture.
- Add everything else and mix together to evenly distributed.
- With your hands, knead the mixture a bit to help it come together.
- Divide the mix into six equal parts and press it into patties.  They should be 1-1.5" thick, depending on your buns (they won't shrink much).
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add a light drizzle of olive oil.
- Cook the patties in two batches for 5 minutes on each side, pressing down firmly but gently with the spatula.  Add additional oil between batches if necessary.

We served our black bean burgers on whole wheat buns with tomatoes, red onions, kale, ketchup, and whole grain mustard.  I really like using kale instead of lettuce on burgers: it has such a nice bite to it.

To freeze the black bean patties, allow them to cool and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  To reheat, bake in the oven or defrost in the microwave and finish in a skillet.


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