I have never been a big fan of vegetarian dishes that imitate meat, and don't get me started on impossible burgers or Quorn. I truly believe that one can cook vegetables and grains and make them shine in their own right. Which doesn't mean that I don't, very occasionally, crave a really delicious beef burger.
To be fair to my "leave-meat-in-its-own-lane-when-cooking-with-vegetables" point, this is actually not a attempted replication of a burger, but rather a homage to falafel in burger form. I rather wanted to call this a black bean falafel burger but, cultural appropriation and black beans being the main ingredient here, decided not too. It is falafel-esque in that I used ground dried black beans rather than a can of black beans, which makes for the most amazingly textured patty.
I served mine on a toasted brioche bun with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, quick pickled shaved carrots, caramelized red onion, and a dab of mayo that I cut with chopped Italian parsley and some green tomato. I think that I missed out on not having an avocado on hand to add some slices to the top of mine.
This is a VERY satisfying meal.
This recipe will make two burgers. I made one for lunch as illustrated above and made golf ball sized ones with the remaining mixture the next day, for use in a salad.
A tiny PSA concerning beans -- always err on the side of lengthy cooking when using dried beans. The burger was perfectly cooked and utterly delectable. The bean fritters for my salad were another matter. These I woefully undercooked and, though I only ate one fritter, and it apparently only takes four beans anyway, gave myself one of the worst cases of something food poisoning adjacent that I have ever had. As it turns out, the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin found in plants, occurs naturally in several kinds of raw or undercooked beans, and causes gastroenteritis. In one of nature's little ironies, this crisis occurred the day that I received my bean order for the year and I have not really felt called to cook with them since.
Despite the above, please do take a chance on this really delicious burger. Just cook the hell out of it. Literally.
1 cup dried black beans
1/4 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsps flour
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried bay leaf (optional -- I like it because it adds to the earthiness of the burger)
Salt to taste
Measure the beans into a bowl along with an eighth teaspoon of salt. Cover with boiling water and set aside until the water has cooled to room temperature. Drain the beans.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Working in batches, add the beans, garlic and onion to your blender or Vitamix and reduce to rubble. You want equal sized pieces of ground bean, each a bit larger than a grain of couscous.
Tip the bean mixture into a bowl and add the spices and flour. Mix well to combine before forming half of the mixture into a patty the diameter of your bun and about one inch thick.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan that can also go into the oven. As soon as it shimmers, add the patty to the pan and cook for two minutes and 30 seconds without disturbing the patty. Flip the burger and cook for an additional two minutes before placing in the oven and cooking for 15 minutes, flipping the burger at the halfway mark.
Remove from the oven and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Turn the burger over to blot the other side before serving as you would your favorite beef burger or as described above.