Monday, August 1, 2016

Recipe of the month: Black Bean Burgers with Avocado Mayonnaise

Let's be honest....when you hear the word "burger", the mind immediately conjures up an image that is far removed from vegetarianism.

In India, vegetarian burgers are commonly available in most restaurants serving western and fusion food but I'm assuming the same cannot be said outside the country. Growing up, most of the burgers I ate consisted of a patty made with potatoes, paneer (cottage cheese) or chickpeas. Speaking of which, in my hometown, there is a tiny joint that serves burgers and other kinds of western food called 'Downtown'. I swear every once or twice a year that I'm in Mysore, I make it a point to go there and relish their veggie burgers slathered generously with mayonnaise (and I don't even fancy mayo that much!). Seriously good stuff!

In the past, when I'd make burgers at home, I'd resort to making potato or mixed vegetable patties and assemble it within a bun with some lettuce and tomatoes or else channel my inner Gordon Ramsey and grill a portobello mushroom along with some veggies and slap on a slice of swiss cheese. They would taste good especially the latter but that didn't stop me from looking into more options to create a lip-smacking, loaded veggie burger.





Black bean burgers have been on my cooking radar for a long time. Unfortunately, I haven't actually tasted many of them to register a positive food memory. The last one I had was at a popular Mexican fast food chain in Singapore a few years ago, and it was so bad (dry and bland) that I couldn't even finish the burger! Since then, I've always wanted to make it at home so I could fuel my ego with the realization that I could do a better job. Haha!

Black beans are high in fiber and a great source of plant-based protein. Bell peppers are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Avocado is a super food. Arugula is low in calories, nutritious and has a ton of flavour. I squashed all these good guys between a sliced wholemeal bun, wolfed it down and actually felt good (read: not guilty) after eating a burger. How many times does that happen to ya?  Serve this burger with baked sweet potato wedges and a mixed salad on the side and you have a wonderfully balanced meal right there.

Comfort food that is delicious, hearty and nutritious.....what more can one ask for? I've made these burgers multiple times since I first tried it and they have become a huge family favourite. I swear I'm going to do everything it takes to make my kids love this burger when they get a little older *grins*

Here's to eating green! Stay healthy and happy you lovely people 

Black Bean Burgers with Avocado Mayonnaise

Prep time: 45 mins; Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Makes: 5-6 large burgers
Recipe category: Main course/Mexican-inspired
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Adapted from here

Ingredients:
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 small bell pepper diced small (I used a combination of red and green peppers)
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried oregano
1 (16oz) can of black beans, rinsed, drained and patted thoroughly dry on paper towels
1/4 cup sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp breadcrumbs (or panko)
1 medium egg, Optional
Olive oil - as required

To assemble the burgers:
Avocado mayonnaise - a smooth creamy blend of 1 medium avocado, juice from half a lemon, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup olive oil


Arugula/Salad rocket
Tomato slices or tomato salsa
Cheese slices, Optional

Skip the ingredients listed as 'Optional' to make this a vegan burger 

Method:

1. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and sauté for 3 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add the cumin powder, chili powder, oregano and sauté for another 30 seconds.

Take off heat and place contents into a medium bowl.




2. Place black beans in a food processor and blend until beginning to look smooth but still a little chunky. Pour into bowl with sautéed veggies. Add corn, cilantro and salt & pepper. Mix well. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add the breadcrumbs and egg and mix well. Divide mixture into 5 or 6 even sections (depending on how large your burger buns are) and form each one into a patty. Grease your palms with a little oil to make it easier. Place patties in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking.




3. Heat an oiled skillet or grill over medium high heat. Add patty and cook each side for 3 minutes, or until beginning to char and easily remove from surface. Be gentle with patties as they can be delicate.

Note that the patties will firm up after they have been cooked on both sides.



4. Slice the burger buns in half (I used wholemeal buns). Grill the buns until lightly toasted. Apply a generous amount of avocado mayo on the cut surfaces, place some arugula over that (on the lower portion of the bun), layer with a slice of tomato or tomato salsa, place a slice of cheese, arrange the patty and then top off with another slice of tomato or salsa. Place the top portion of the bun over the assemble and your burger is now ready to serve!



Notes:
  • Make sure the black beans are thoroughly dried out so that your mixture doesn't end up mushy
  • If you feel the mixture is too mushy for you to shape into patties, add in more breadcrumbs
  • You can use lettuce instead of arugula inside the burgers
  • Instead of making the avocado mayo, you can just slice up some avocado and layer them inside the burger
  • If avocados are not available, you could substitute it with regular mayo and add the other ingredients listed (except the sugar) to make a spread 
  • You can add in thinly sliced onion rings to add more texture
  • You can use either sharp cheddar or swiss cheese slices (get the cheese to melt slightly) inside the burger

Cheers,


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