Last Monday, on a whim, John and I decided to enter a red meat-less week. Fish was acceptable, and we’ve surprised ourselves with delicious food as temporary pescatarians. Breakfasts have included John’s dark-berry smoothies, tomato toast, smoked salmon, incredible veggie burritos. We enjoyed sushi take-out and big salads and a lemony linguine with shrimp (recipe coming soon!).
And we really outdid ourselves with homemade green chile black bean burgers.
Opting to go meatless over Labor Day weekend was certainly a calendar oversight on our part. “Labor Day” is practically synonymous with burgers or ribs or BBQ chicken, charred on the outdoor grill. That’s why we decided on veggie burgers; we’d grill them up outside and enjoy an end-of-summer feast on the patio! By the time we started prepping dinner, the sun was casting a late-afternoon sparkle over everything, and the air in the neighborhood smelled of charcoal and summer fun.
Neither John nor I had attempted to make a meatless burger before. We pulled from what we liked in traditional burgers and what we’d tried in store-bought versions, and just winged it. I started by preparing some quinoa, which I thought would help give some structure to the burgers. Instead of plain water, I used a vegan version of “chicken” stock. The result was unexpectedly flavorful and yummy!
It’s Hatch green chile season, and it’s a serious demonstration of will power to walk past the chile roaster on the sidewalk without immediately going into the store and purchasing some. John picked up a pint of extra hot chiles, which I thought we’d put IN the burger and maybe serve on top, too. I chopped up a couple of chiles along with some red onion. I also pulled some fire-roasted corn from the freezer and minced a couple of cloves of garlic.
John partially smashed up some canned black beans (rinsed and drained), leaving some beans whole for texture. And then I just started adding flavor: the quinoa, green chiles, onion, garlic, and corn all went into the mix. Channeling my best meatball recipe, I added some Panko breadcrumbs and two eggs. Fresh parsley and cilantro provided color. I also added garlic salt and cumin, and crumbled feta cheese. There’s no way these burgers could be bad with all of this GOOD.
John fired up the grill while I set the table, including a bouquet of vibrant blooms from the yard. He formed burger patties roughly the same size as the pretzel buns the store clerk talked him into; we knew that without fat, the burgers wouldn’t shrink much. (We had enough to wrap a few in wax paper to freeze for later!) Since we weren’t sure how the burgers would hold up, John used the flat-top on the grill. They sizzled when they hit the hot cast iron.
I prepped some burger toppings: sprouts, avocado wedges, lime, chopped green chiles, and plenty of condiments. To accompany our burgers, I made an heirloom tomato caprese salad using fresh basil from the garden. I sliced thick wedges of sweet potato and seasoned them in olive oil with chile powder, salt, and pepper. John grilled the potatoes along with the burgers. To serve the ‘taters, I sprinkled feta cheese on top, along with more fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, and chives. When the cheddar cheese was melted on the burgers, dinner was ready. Let’s eat!
What a beautiful spread! The setting sun cast a warm glow over the patio. I stacked my burger high with sprouts, avocado slices, and chopped green chiles. The burger itself was absolutely delectable, with a satisfying crunch to the outside and great texture from the corn and quinoa. The chiles in the burger (plus the ones on top) gave each bite the perfect amount of heat. John said, “This is the best veggie burger I’ve ever had!”
The best part is that we stuck with our meat-free pact and didn’t feel like we missed out on a Labor Day cook-out at all. We ate every last bite of those burgers, sipping wine and laughing away our summer as the sun dipped behind the hill.
Homemade Green Chile Black Bean Burgers
- 2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup Hatch green chiles, chopped
- 1/3 cup frozen fire-roasted corn, thawed
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- ¼ cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- Hamburger buns and cheddar, avocado slices, sprouts, and green chiles for toppings
In a large bowl, mash most of the black beans (leaving some texture). Stir in the rest of the ingredients through garlic salt. Form into burger patties, 1/3 inch thick and roughly the same size as the buns. On a hot flat-top griddle on a 400-degree grill, cook the burgers for about 8 minutes per side to get a seared crust, being careful to keep them in tact as you turn them. Cook for a few minutes more on either side before adding slices of cheddar cheese to melt. Serve on toasted buns with sprouts, avocado, and a pile of green chiles. Best when eaten al fresco as the late summer sun is setting. Yum!
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