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Today: Not crumbly, not mushy, and certainly not pre-frozen -- this is the bean burger you've been waiting for.
Labor Day weekend may have come and gone, but grilling season will linger for at least a little while longer. So will corn, which pairs perfectly with black beans -- and a bold mixture of spices -- in one of my favorite meatless burger recipes.
More: Another way to pair corn and black beans? Vegan tostadas.
Smoked paprika in particular gives these burgers authentic, grill-ready flavor. This spice is one of my "secret weapon" ingredients: it creates smoky flavor in lentil soup and hearty stews, in dips and dressings, and in Tex-Mex dishes. A little goes a long way, and it's easy to find online if you can't hunt it down nearby.
All vegan burgers require a little finesse when it comes to texture. Without meat or egg to bind things together, they can get a little mushy; or, if you use too much grain or bread crumbs, they can turn out stiff. If the burgers aren't firm enough, add more of the quick oats or bread crumbs called for in the recipe. If they're crumbly, you can add a little water.
To keep things easy for you, I've given you three different cooking options: one for your grill, one for your stovetop, and one for your oven. If you are lucky enough to share these at a cookout or barbecue soon, be sure to chill them before grilling. Then, watch with a smile as your friends marvel at how good homemade meatless burgers can be.
Serves 4 to 6
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups (or 2 cans) cooked black beans, divided
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 cup quick oats or bread crumbs, plus extra as needed
3/4 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) corn
Photos by James Ransom