I confess I write this on the eve of another plane flight that will whisk me away on vacation. I feel so spoiled this month. Two vacations?! For seriousness. I joke about a lot of things. Vacation is not one of them. Tomorrow I fly off to the beautiful island of St. Kitt’s to meet my parents, two sets of aunts and uncles, three cousins, and, best of all, my goddaughter! We have a lot of catching up to do, and I just can’t wait to do this while frolicking in the serene waters of the Caribbean. Oh yes. I will frolic.
Anyhow, I just wanted to take a brief second to mention this vacation because I fear there’s a good chance you won’t hear from me for another week. Cry it out my friends. I will miss you, too! Or perhaps you, too, are on vacation. I hope so!
So, earlier this week I had a friend over for dinner, which is something I hope to do much more often this summer. I just love hosting…it’s always the perfect excuse to try a new recipe. Turn up the music. Open the wine. Get cooking. What’s not to love?
I decided to try to replicate the black bean/brown rice/red pepper “burgers” that another friend had served me just a week earlier. They were so unexpectedly delicious. Our wires got crossed and I wasn’t able to steal her recipe in time for my dinner, so I scrambled and found this one instead. It was…drumroll…delicious! After all, would I share anything with you that wasn’t delicious?! (Oh yeah, avocado most definitely helped. As always.)
I have a sneaking suspicion these may become a summertime staple in my house. They come together quickly and easily, with minimal ingredients and lots and lots of flavor. And the best part? They freeze beautifully! So, when you’re a grad student working by day and taking classes by night and constantly looking for an easy go-to meal that’s equally wholesome and delicious, these certainly qualify. Add a beer and you may even feel like you’re on vacation.
Black Bean Burgers
Recipe adapted from Veggie Belly
Yield: 6 burger patties
1 cup cooked brown rice or rice medley of your choosing (Trader Joe’s precooked frozen rice packets work wonders in recipes like this one)
1 15 oz can whole black beans, drained and rinsed
½ Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced in small pieces
1 small red bell pepper, diced in small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ Tablespoon ground cumin
½ Tablespoon paprika
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
Flour and more olive oil for cooking the patties
Drain and rinse the beans in a colander. Let sit so they begin to dry slightly while you prep the other ingredients.
Dice the onion and red pepper. Set aside. Mince the garlic. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add ½ Tablespoon olive oil and let the oil heat slightly. Test to make sure the oil is ready by putting one piece of onion in the pan. If it begins to sizzle then the oil is heated thoroughly.
Add the onion and red pepper to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft, about 8-10 minutes depending on the temperature of your pan.
Once the onion is soft (you’ll know by actually biting into a piece!) add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds.
Add the beans, cumin, paprika, ground pepper, and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the beans soften. Again, just taste one! The key to cooking is to taste as you go. (Dad, there’s your cooking tip of the day.)
Turn off the heat and grab a potato masher or fork. Mash the bean mixture until most of the beans are pretty smashed. This will help the patties stick together a bit better.
Add the rice to the bean mixture and mix thoroughly. Taste the mixture and add any additional spices as you see fit.
Turn the mixture out on a large plate so it can cool slightly. While it’s cooling you can prep your burger toppings. Avocado! Can I get an Amen?!
Once the bean mixture is cool enough to touch (this shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes) separate it into 6 balls. Flatten the balls with the palms of your hand and sprinkle or lightly pat flour onto both sides of each pattie. If you don’t plan to cook all 6 patties at once, set some aside to freeze.
Heat some olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add patties to the pan – as many as will fit without being crowded. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, paying attention to not letting them burn. Remove from the pan once both sides have a crispy brown crust.
For the patties you set aside and choose not to cook: place them in a freezable container in a single layer or in a Ziploc with parchment paper between each pattie. When you’re ready to enjoy them, simply cook them in a pan with some hot oil – straight from the freezer. Easy peasy.