Ah, burgers, the edible epitome of America. While you can count me out on the ones gifted in fast food packaging, I too am a sucker for a good, solid burger. A vegetarian one, that is.
There are numerous ways to construct a meat-free burger, but the classic veggie version is probably the black bean. I’ve filled my youthful belly with quite a few of them over the years. While some places no doubt can really make a mean BB-burger, more often than not, I find myself chewing on a bland patty, within an oversized bun, needing a huge dousing of ketchup to draw to my taste-buds any significant flavor. It tends to be an unforgettable eating experience.
While the frijoles negros pack a powerful punch of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and even lend a meat-like color, the beans themselves could use some flavor. While beans do all have unique, individual tastes, they are often subtle, making the soft gems great building blocks for a burger.
I set out to create a black bean burger that wouldn’t be lacking taste, one that would be memorable and would appeal to meat-free and meatful eaters alike. After all, a great burger, beef-filled or not, can tend to please nearly any appetite.
I added some spices and my standard veggie mise en place, along with a few other ingredients to shape a burger worthy of such an experience. And if that wasn’t enough, I topped it with broccoli rabe to give it an extra bite. If you’ve ever eaten the broccoli rabe, AKA rapini, I’m sure you’re well aware that the vitamin A packed veggie is by no means deficient in taste.
Black Bean Burgers with Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Topping
(Makes 5-6 Burgers)
For the Broccoli Rabe:
-1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, chopped, removing large stems removed
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp. salt, plus another pinch to taste
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Saute garlic in oil in a large nonstick skillet until garlic begins to brown. Add broccoli rabe, and sauté until tender, 10-12 minutes, adding salt and lemon juice halfway through. Set aside.
For the Burgers:
-15oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
-1 red onion, ½ thinly sliced, remaining ½ finely chopped
-1/2 red bell pepper, diced
-1 fresh jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
-1 cup corn
-3/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs (about 2 slices, toasted and processed_
-1 Tbsp. chili powder
-2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 cup cilantro, tightly packed
-2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
-5-6 whole-wheat hamburger buns
-Vegenaise or mayo.
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in large nonstick skillet. Saute chopped onion, pepper, jalapeno, and corn until onions are translucent and peppers are tender. Stir in chili pepper, paprika, salt, and Worcestershire, and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Transfer ½ of the mixture into a food processor, scraping any spices remaining on bottom of the pan. Add the beans and breadcrumbs. Puree until smooth. Add cilantro, and pulse until combined. Stir in remaining onion/pepper mixture.
Return nonstick skillet to stove and place over medium-high heat. Coat bottom of pan with a light layer of olive oil. Shape bean mixture into 5-6 burgers. Cook burgers two at a time, until outer edges are crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
Heat hamburger bun. Spread thin layer of Vegenaise onto each side of the bun. On one half, add thinly sliced red onion and a layer of broccoli rabe. Top with burger and remaining half of bun. Serve.
Tips for cooking burgers: Use two spatulas to keep shaping the burgers into patties, flipping multiple times until edges of the burgers crisp. At first, the burgers will seem on the mushy side, but as you continue to flip them, they will firm up. A nonstick pan is key for this process.