It’s summertime! That means time to grill food and wear less clothing, which also suggests eating light and nutritious. I love a good burger, but the fat content and my love of bovines make that a harsh choice.
Fortunately, I have found a burger that satisfies both my need for a juicy bite and my respect for animals. I am not a hard-core vegetarian, but beef is worth limiting for a lot of reasons. It’s high in saturated fats and it costs a lot of fossil fuels and water to raise cattle.
With 15 grams each of fiber and protein per cup, black beans are a good alternative. One cup contains two-thirds of the daily requirement of folate (one of the most important B vitamins), 120 milligrams of magnesium, and 180 milligrams of omega-3—great news for those who do not like salmon or fish oil.
Black bean burgers are simple and can be tweaked according to taste, but the end result is a juicy burger that will leave you not missing the meat. If using fresh beans, soak them a minimum of eight hours and then cook until soft. I use canned black beans, which are just as nutritious if you get them without added sodium.
Black Bean Burgers
-Two 15-oz. cans of black beans
-1 c. bread crumbs (I use leftover crackers)
-¼ c. grated Vidalia onion
-1 whole egg
-½ t. chili powder
-½ t. garlic salt
-Salt and pepper to taste
-¼ t. hot sauce
-1 to 2 T. olive oil
-1 to 2 T. butter
-Cheese and desired toppings (optional)
-Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns
Drain but do not rinse the black beans. With a fork or potato masher, mash them enough to break the beans, but still leave them semi-intact. Add breadcrumbs, onion, egg, chili powder, garlic, and hot sauce. Stir and set aside for five to ten minutes.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the bean mixture into patties and cook about five minutes on each side.
I like to butter and grill the buns until toasty. (I’m already having a black bean burger, so it seems wrong to not be a little naughty.) Add any topping you like. My favorite is red onion, lettuce, and tomato.
For a twist on the usual side salad, try guacamole.
-1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
-1 yellow pepper, diced
-One 15 oz. can black beans (optional)
-½ c. red onion
-1 small jalapeño pepper, minced
-½ t. lime zest
-¼ c. lime juice
-¼ c. olive oil
-1 t. sea salt
-½ t. black pepper
-½ t. minced garlic
-¼ t. cayenne pepper
-Two to four ripe avocados, diced not mashed
Place tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeño, and lime zest in a bowl. For dressing, whisk lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne. Pour over the vegetables and toss well. Fold avocados into the salad and serve at room temperature.