I recently finished writing a new cookbook. You will have to wait a bit to see what it’s about, but one of the recipes in it will be the best veggie burger I have ever created. Here is your chance for a preview of it.
To create this recipe, I thought about what I did not like about homemade veggie burgers, even those I had done before. First, most homemade veggie burgers are too soft. Second, meatless burgers that do hold together use at least a cup of breadcrumbs. It makes them dry and hard while egg as a binder keeps them mushy. My third concern is that making veggie burgers takes too darn long.
To make a reliable burger without breadcrumbs or egg, I thought: rice. With short or medium-grain rice, the longer you cook it and the more you mush it about, the stickier it gets. I also thought about flourless cookies made using finely ground almonds, aka almond meal. Melted cheese also helps ingredients in dishes stick together.
Using all these ingredients, I made a black bean burger. To save time, I used frozen brown rice that I cooked long enough to make it starchy. Whirling everything in a food processor produced a sticky mixture that formed nice patties.
I cooked a few of the patties immediately and was delighted with the meaty-tasting, crisp crust they got using a cast iron skillet. I cooked a couple more four hours later and the rest of the burgers after 24 hours. Honestly, while sitting adds total time to the recipe, it is passive time that requires advance planning but not your attention. And four hours was long enough to make the burger even better in texture as well as beautifully crusty. The bigger issue is that the crust may stick to the pan. If it does, nudge a spatula under it and pat the crust back on top of the flipped burger.
Serving this burger in a pita bread, topped with slices of tomato, onion and arugula, you can enjoy its crusty surface and creamy insides. Ironically, this burger holds together better than the whole-wheat pita, but I guess you can’t have everything!
Chipotle Black Bean and Rice Burger
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 308 calories, 9 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 46 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 9 g dietary fiber, 290 mg sodium.
- 1 cup frozen brown rice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 large garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 can (15.5 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained)
- 1/4 cup almond meal or very finely ground almonds
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili pepper
- 2/3 cup 2 oz. shredded low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 6 whole-wheat pita breads with pockets (5-6-inches)
- 2 cups baby arugula lightly packed
- 6 thin tomato slices
- 6 very thin red onion slices
In small saucepan, combine frozen rice with 1/4 cup water and cook, covered, until rice is very soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer rice to bowl of food processor.
In heavy medium skillet, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent, 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onion is soft, 4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl of food processor.
Add beans to food processor and pulse to chop mixture coarsely. Add almond meal or almonds and chili pepper and pulse just to blend, 6 times. Add cheese and pulse to blend, 4 times. Scoop burger mixture into medium bowl; it will be quite sticky. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
Lightly moisten your hands and shape burger mixture into 6 patties, arranging patties on a plate. Burgers taste best when covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated 8 to 24 hours to let flavors meld.
To cook burgers, heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet on medium high heat. Add burgers and cook until crusty and dark brown on bottom, 2 minutes. Carefully turn burgers and cook until crusty on second side, 2 minutes.
To serve, open pita breads and arrange 1/2 cup arugula on each bottom. Add cooked burger and top with onion and tomato slices. Serve immediately.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography