A Salad Monday First
April 16, 2008
Whew. I am finally getting this recipe for crispy black bean cakes to you! The first two times I made it (that’s your first clue it’s good; there are not very many repeat performances in my kitchen), we ate all the black bean cakes before I could take any photos. Sure, it’s a little embarrassing, but I hope the confession will lead you to forgive me for the delay.
This was certainly the first time that a Salad Monday offering has pulled such a disappearing act. So, after the first two false starts, I wised up and doubled the recipe. I suppose that when I turned Salad Monday into Practically-Nachos-Parading-Around-as-a-Salad Monday, I should have expected this result.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
The product of a meat-and-potatoes kind of upbringing, I tend to view “alternative proteins” with a some hesitance and skepticism. I came around to turkey and tuna burgers quite some time ago, but I still pass on the fakon and tofurkey. A bean patty seemed to fall somewhere in the middle, but I convinced myself it would be falafel-ish and went for it.
Thank goodness, because this is the kind of recipe that could have me giving up meat altogether. As long as bacon was still allowed. And maybe at least one Hebrew National dog from Wrigley Field’s bleachers per summer (nestled in a poppy-seeded bun, topped with assorted Chicago-style condiments …). And steaks grilled up by my step-dad, we’d have to add those to the list too.
Whoops, back to the vegetarian burger at hand. Which, even though it apparently can’t quite get me to give up the hard stuff, is still very, very, very good. Piping hot off the stove, these cakes are golden, crunchy and crispy on the outside, only to give way to a creamy interior. But that interior’s not too creamy, mind you, because there are whole black beans scattered throughout. And if all this texture talk doesn’t float your boat, they’re also smoky and a little spicy. You’ll want to contrast their heat with a creamy dressing or dallop of sour cream and cool slices of avocado. And you’ll enjoy playing off their earthiness with bright flavors like lime and crunchy vegetables. But I’m warning you, make extras. Especially if you are planning on staging a photo shoot.
Crispy Black Bean Cake Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: 2 entree sized salads
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 15-ounce can black beans, draned
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 to 3 cups baby greens
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
3 scallions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
several sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat just until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Add 3/4 cup of the beans and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl. Mix in the remaining whole black beans and 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 6 1/4-cup patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
Put the flour, beaten egg white and remaining bread crumbs into 3 shallow bowls. Dust each black bean cake with the flour, tapping off the excess. Dip the cakes in the egg and then in the bread crumbs, pressing so that the bread crumbs adhere.
In a very large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil until shimmering. Add the cakes and cook over moderate heat, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, toss the baby greens, tomatoes, carrots and scallions in the Lime-Yogurt dressing. Divide the dressed vegetables between two places. Top each plate with 3 black bean cakes and 1/2 the avocado. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.