Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spinach and Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Chili Sauce

Spinach and Black Bean Burgers with Sweet Chili Sauce (Vegetarian & Gluten Free)

I like changing up the routine and having vegetarian meals at least once a week. Black beans are fat free and high in fiber. I blend them with fresh spinach and garlic which makes really tasty meal. These can also be made in advance and then frozen for an easy meal.

You can make a lot or a few burgers with this recipe as the proportions can very to you liking. Feel free to experiment.

To Make:
-1 egg
- 1 small yellow onion
-2-4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled (you decide based on your love for garlic)
-1/2 bag (1 cup) of dry Black beans cooked* or 1 can (16oz) black beans
- 2 cups fresh spinach
-1/2 cup pureed butternut squash (if you don't have this on hand, you can substitute pureed eggplant, pureed roasted red pepper, or any other vegetable which will impart some flavor and body, this will help bind everything together).
-1 cup rolled oats or bread crumbs
-Salt & Pepper to taste
-Sweet Chili sauce

In a medium bowl, add together the egg, garlic, onion and 1/2 of the cooked black beans. I love to blend this together using my Cuisnart immersion blender (LOVE this kitchen tool!)

Add the pureed vegetable of your choice and some of the spinach. Continue blending and adding more spinach until all of it is chopped and well mixed.  Stir in the remaining black beans (this keeps some of them intact, rather than get pulverized).  Add the salt and pepper. At this point, the mixture will be very wet. Stir in the oatmeal or bread crumbs. This will still look wet, but trust me, after an hour in the fridge, the starches will soak up and retain all of the moisture. If you added enough oatmeal at this point that you could handle the mixtures then your burgers would DEFINITELY be very dry.

Cover the mixture and allow it to rest for 30 minutes (min) or up to a day in the refrigerator. This is really easy to blend together at night and then make them the next day.

To cook - heat some olive oil in a large skillet.  I use a food ring to keep the shape and size consistent, but if you don't have one, you can just estimate the sizes. You will fry these like you were making pancakes. Your goal is to get the mixture hot and heated through to cook the egg.  Start with a medium-high heat to get the outsides nice an crunchy, like a real burger. Allow to cook and flip when golden.

To Freeze - Simply put to cooked and cooled burgers in a freezer container (ziplock bag or plastic container) and keep in the freezer for 3-6 months. Reheat and Enjoy!

To Serve - I first served these with brown rice and sweet chili sauce - a really nice accompaniment to the garlic and spinach.  However, I also tried putting a burger on crusty bread which I had spread with the tangy sweet chili sauce and then topped with slices of  fresh avocado - delicious!!

Feel free to experiment with different vegetables and ratios - let me know how it goes!

*I soak the black beans overnight in water and then I simmer them in water in a saucepan on medium heat for ~ an hour. Doing it yourself imparts less sodium than commercially canned beans and you will find that the beans are  not over-cooked, that is - unless you forget about them and boil them to death.  :-)   

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