Black bean and brown rice burgers (4 servings)

For the life of me, I can't remember where this recipe comes from, but I've been making it for a couple years now.  These "burgers" are healthful, filling, and versatile.  I used to include a small, chopped onion in the recipe, but I've since taken it out since my old lady stomach has a hard time with onions.  I've made it with mushrooms, and that's quite good too.  Below is the basic recipe, but feel free to change up the spices and veggies you use in it.  Don't expect this to taste like beef; it still provides that same sink-your-teeth-into-it satisfaction, but it isn't a meat-like burger substitute, if that makes sense.  It copies the idea of a burger but not the taste, in other words.

You will need:

  • 1-15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp grill seasoning (I like Mrs. Dash steak blend)
  • a few drops (seriously!) of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher, leaving some of them chunky.  Add the rice, egg, seasoning, liquid smoke (if using), tomato paste, and salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon.  
  2. If the mixture is too runny, add the flour, 1 Tbsp, at a time, until a spoonful of the mixture holds together briefly when you turn the spoon upside down.
  3. Divide the mixture into four parts and form into patties with your hands.
  4. Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until firm and browned.  I find it works best if you do only two at a time.

They look pretty light, but I usually find myself getting full about 3/4 of the way through one of them!  The most recent time I made them, I served them on Arnold Sandwich Thins (my new best friend) and that made them less filling.  When you're making the rice and bean mixture, be sure to use cooled rice so that the mixture doesn't fall apart.  It's fine to make rice specifically for this recipe, but just be sure to let it cool first.  I really mean it when I say to use only a few drops of liquid smoke.  If you've never used it before, it's very potent.  If you don't have it or don't like it, it's really not a necessary ingredient.  Do yourself a favor and find tomato paste in a tube at a grocery store or specialty foods store.  It costs more per ounce, but it cuts back on waste because you can use just a little at a time, unlike the canned variety.  (Amore makes tomato paste in a tube, as well as tubed varieties of pesto, garlic paste, and hot pepper paste!)

Serve on burger buns with cheese, lettuce, sour cream, or whatever condiments you like.