Sometimes You Have to Do It Yourself

Like a burger with sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese.

quinoa 1.6.13

A great little casual food place in town has teased me plenty in the past with its black-and-blue black bean burger, and never delivered on the promise. I don’t think it’s on their menu anymore. But, for a while, it was. And it always sounded good.

A black bean burger, sautéed mushrooms and red onions, and crumbled blue cheese. When I’d call to order, they’d be out of one ingredient or another, and so I’d get something else, always very good, but never The One.

So here I am cooking with quinoa for a few weeks, and on the back of that Trader Joe’s tricolor quinoa package I bought for last week’s stuffed acorn squash, I see a recipe for a quinoa black bean patty. Well, I thought, here’s my chance. DIY.

I decided to follow the recipe as is, and I’ll say right from the start that it’s a tasty combo, but wasn’t the firm burger I really wanted. The mixture felt looser as I shaped it into patties than I’d have done myself if I was eyeballing it. But I decided to just go with it and see what the suggested proportions created. It created a beautiful patty that crumbled easily, which makes it fine for putting one or two on a plate as a main course with a veggie and a salad, or even served on the salad itself. For a firmer burger,  I’d up the black bean ratio with the quinoa next time, probably do half quinoa and half black beans, then add bread crumbs to the mix til I got the firmer consistency I wanted. And then, after I had the consistency I wanted, mix an egg in to bind it.

Having said all that, here’s the basic recipe, which you can then tweak to suit how you want to use it.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa Black Bean Patties

  • 3 tablespoons oil (your choice), plus additional to cook the patties
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in water or broth)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet, add red peppers and sauté until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and continue to sauté until soft. Remove from heat, cool for a few minutes, then scoop into a bowl with the black beans and cilantro. You may put this in a food processor to combine, per the recipe. I am currently food-processor-less, so I mashed the beans with a fork and even by hand to break them up, and that’s why I finely diced the vegetables I sautéed.

Mix in the quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add a beaten egg, if using. I used it, because an egg can help bind everything together, and I thought it might help here.

Divide into 8 patties and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Heat additional oil in the pan. Dredge the patties in the bread crumbs, and fry until browning on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

While the patties were in the fridge to set, I heated up the leftover oil in the pan, which was a deeper color from when it started, having absorbed some of the juices and flavor from the bell pepper and shallot. I added a little more oil and a couple tablespoons of butter. Into that I added one large red onion that I’d cut in half and thinly sliced, letting the onions brown and slump over medium heat, about 10 minutes. I thinly sliced a 10-oz. container of cremini mushrooms and added that, with another bit of butter, and cooked for another 5-8 minutes. Then I added 1/4 cup of white vermouth. (If I’d had a bottle of white wine open, I might’ve used that), turned the heat up a little, and let it cook down. Then I tossed in the rest of the chopped cilantro I had, a good handful.

I scooped all that into a bowl, set it aside, and then the pan was ready to fry the patties in.

To serve the burger on, I got a nice whole wheat loaf of bread, with some softness to it, because whenever you have a stacked sandwich, the bread’s got to have some give. You don’t want all the ingredients squeezing out, though, in this case, the crumbly patty, well…crumbled anyway! I did toast the bread a little, to warm it, but still keep that give.

The assembly: a half slice of the bread, baby spinach leaves on that, then a few thin slices of avocado, the quinoa-black bean patty, the mushrooms and onions, just a little blue cheese broken over the top, and the other half of the slice of bread.

Delicious flavors together, whether neatly stacked…or deconstructed!


2 thoughts on “Sometimes You Have to Do It Yourself

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