As an omnivore, I'm happy with pretty much anything you can shelter inside a bun. But as I wrote in this week's review of TAG Burger Bar, Troy Guard's vegetarian patty, a springy mash-up of soybeans, chickpeas and herbs, left me a few inches short of satisfied. So earlier this week for dinner, when I still couldn't get veggie burgers out of my head, I decided to put the craving to rest.
A quick on-line search unearthed enough recipes to keep me from the butcher's counter for months, most of which I dismissed because they required too many ingredients or looked as bland as Guard's. With hungry kids to feed, I didn't have time to assemble anything fancy, much less run to the store, so I skimmed until I found something both fast and tasty.
I ended the hunt after discovering a promising recipe from Cooking Light entitled "Our Homemade Quick Black Bean Burger," which I liked because A) it was quick and, B) it called for ingredients I either had on hand or could easily substitute, like cilantro for fresh oregano and Italian bread for the hamburger bun used to make bread crumbs.
As advertised, the patties were ready for the pan in minutes, with minor effort to chop garlic, zest a lime, crack eggs and open a can of beans. The hardest part was cleaning the Cuisinart used to pulse the fresh bread crumbs. I've heard newer food processors are easier to take apart, but my well-loved wedding present could double as a trap for that escape artist on America's Got Talent. By the time my prep dishes were done, the patties were crisp (in less oil than called for, to boot) and ready to be topped with Tabasco-spiked ketchup.
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Taking a cue from TAG Burger Bar, I ate mine naked. That is, atop spinach, not a bun, with a side of corn to round out the protein. It was everything I'd hoped for: sturdy, packed with flavor, and cheaper than a night out with the family. Now if only I had those duck-fat fries and a boozy milkshake.