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

Lime-Yogurt Dressing

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.

9 Responses to “A Salad Monday First”

  1. vanessa Says:

    these look great! i’ve made something similar to this except i add a mix of bell peppers in addition to the onion and use crushed tortilla chips in place of the bread crumbs. it definitely makes for a good, hearty dinner. the salad that you made with it sounds good too. i think even a simple romaine, avocado and radish mix would go great also with the same dressing. another yummy addition to a great blog!

  2. eggsonsunday Says:

    Yum, yum, yum. These look delicious!! These are going directly on my “to cook” list, in fact, I may make them this weekend. I love black beans, and am always looking for new ideas for main-course salads. Thanks for another great recipe!🙂 –Amy

  3. rachel Says:

    I’ve toyed with making black bean cakes before but I can’t imagine they would look as great as these!

  4. grace Says:

    i’m convinced that i’ll like absolutely anything containing black beans. there would be no question here–these look and sound incredible.🙂


  5. i’ll eat pretty much anything with black beans, and the dressing sounds really yummy. i love the composition in the top photo.

  6. jd Says:

    Wow – your pics are great! So good, in fact, that I definitely shouldn’t be looking at them on an empty stomach🙂

    Anyway, I totally agree with you about the “alternative meats” thing – I’m kinda weird about that stuff, too. Veggie “burgers” is about as far as I’ll take it…

    So, thanks for the black bean cake salad idea, I can’t wait to try your recipe. Yay!

  7. Emily Says:

    These look amazing! You better believe that this recipe is on my weekend agenda.

  8. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    vanessa: Ooh — the tortilla chips are a great idea. And I also contemplated radishes, but my dining companion’s not all that fond of them.

    Amy: Thanks! I know what you mean about new entree salads — a constant challenge. But I’m happy to add this one to the rotation.

    Rachel: I find that hard to believe! Let me know how you like them if you do give them a try.

    Grace: Thanks!

    Michelle: Thank you!

    jd: Thanks! Let me know how you like them.

    Emily: Thank you! You’ll have to let me know how they go. Is Jon getting sick of all the Kristin recipes yet?!?

  9. Caitlin Says:

    Hi–I followed a link from FeelGoodEats to your bog, and I love the recipes/photos here! I just made this salad tonight (after a weekend of birthday revelry featuring, in part, the spiced nuts recipe I found here) and it was fantastic. I could eat the dressing with a spoon, and I loved the texture of the bean cakes. Thanks!


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