vegan black bean quinoa burgers + oven fries


Summer is all about the barbeque, right? Setting up the grill in the back yard and cooking slowly. Except that we don't have a grill, or a yard for that matter, nor do we participate in the traditional regularly served BBQ fare. Should that stop us from being the burger types? This completely vegan (and completely tasty) black bean take says: not a chance.

With Memorial Day just behind us and the Fourth of July on the horizon (okay, it's a distant horizon, but still), summer is pretty much here. Not to be left out on the festivities, I decided to try my hand at making my own veggie burgers, settling on a black bean version inspired by Vegetarian Times. (I'm not totally against the veggie burgers you can buy, of course, but these days I'm getting a bit more uncomfortable with anything that comes wrapped in plastic or in a box or both. More on this another time.)

And of course, what on earth is a burger of any kind without fries? LONELY, that's what. And fries, magically, don't have to be fried to be any good, as it turns out. Crank up that oven heat (and then retreat to a cooler part of your place, because oven-watching in this weather is a no-go), toss generously in olive and spices and you'll never know the difference.

For the burgers, you'll need:

1/2 cup quinoa (dry)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs and spices of your choice
Whole-grain rolls

For the fries, you'll need:

4-5 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into fry-like spears
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano

First things first, cook your quinoa according to the package instructions (this is also a great recipe to turn to when you find yourself with some leftover grain, as I imagine this recipe could work great with brown rice, couscous, etc.) and set aside. While your quinoa is cooking, toss your potatoes with the olive oil, salt, pepper and other spices. Be generous with the coating, as this is what will give your "fries" their crispness and flavor. Spread onto a single layer on a large baking sheet and pop into a 400 degree oven for about forty minutes, flipping as necessary and rotating halfway through.

Once your fries have begun fry-ing, turn your attention to the star of the burger show: the black bean. The black bean is a pretty versatile little guy, making its way around in both the dinner and the dessert world (black bean brownie, anyone?) To get the flavors really cooking, in a small saucepan begin to sauté your onion and sun-dried tomatoes in some olive oil over medium heat. After a few minutes or when the onions have fully softened, stir in about half of your black beans, salt and pepper, herbs and spices of your choice (I went with cumin, a little red pepper and some garlic powder), garlic and 1 cup of water (or for even more flavor, veggie stock, if you have it). Allow to simmer until most (or all) of the water has evaporated--this should happen in about ten minutes.

Transfer the contents of your saucepan to a food processor and add 1/2 the amount of your cooked quinoa. Pulse until smooth and then stir together with the unprocessed quinoa and remaining black beans. When cool enough to handle, form into patties and place on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes or until patties are crisp on the pan-side. Flip and bake for another fifteen minutes.

Serve these guys with guacamole (HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE), crisp lettuce and fresh tomatoes. So perfect for a satisfying summer meal.