Potential Disaster…Bean Rice Patties

Its been a crazy couple of days here at VPE.  The family has been insanely busy and I haven’t had the time to cook that I normally do.  Because of our diet change for TPE, I don’t have the “go-to-dishes” for quick easy meals that I usually have and its put me off my game in the kitchen.

Tonight I was determined to put forth the time and effort to try something new.  Like I’ve said before, I can’t stand the same-old-same-old.  And we need to continue expanding TPE’s list of veggie friendly dishes.  Since she’s recently said that she likes black beans, I figured I’d keep working in that vein.  Looking at one of my new cookbooks, I saw an interesting recipe for a grilled black bean veggie dish that seemed interesting and easy enough.

The basic principal here is to create a patty that is reminiscent of meat (even served on buns if you follow the book’s advice).  You cook some red onion, garlic, and green onion to softness.  You then add black beans, coriander, cumin, oregano, orange zest, and red wine vinegar and cook until the beans become mushy.  After that cools, you mix in some brown rice (I used jasmine) and form it into patties that you can grill.

Simple enough.  Right?  Eh.

I followed the directions pretty assiduously and ended up with a product that was tasty, had the promised meat-like “feel”, but that could have been a real disaster.  It was dry.  Very dry.  And the patties didn’t hold up very well when put on the grill pan (it would’ve been a significant disaster on the grill, no doubt).  I contemplated adding some egg and/or oil (i.e., fat) before making my patties and I regret that I didn’t.

You know, I love the idea of this kind of dish.  You feel like it has main dish quality, something that’s trouble me in the past.  It has a nice flavor profile, so it defies the stereotypes of much vegetarian food.  And it also seems like something you could put in the freezer, for a quick meal.  But it just didn’t work for me.  Did they really try this out before they published it?  It tasted OK, sure, but it just didn’t hold up on most of the other dimensions.  I’m glad it didn’t end up a disaster, but it had that potential.  And with a newly minted vegetarian in the house, I always feel as though the quest stands on the edge of a knife.  (Yeah, I totally plagiarized that last part.  I’m still scared from the bean patty incident.)

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  • mrr  On June 20, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Hmmm, the dry and falling apart issue is a common one with bean patties – I think my mom went through like 4 or 5 recipes before finding a bean patty that didn’t fall apart while grilling (we fed them to the kids all the time when they were too little to eat much meat.) I’ll have to ask her what the secret was in the end, I think some oil and perhaps some food processing might have been involved, maybe some tofu as well…

  • sdmcclurg  On June 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Please let me know, because that whole experience was a let down yesterday. I was thinking about an egg as a potential binding ingredient.

  • Lara  On June 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

    OK, I’ve seen a number of burger recipes that use egg for a binder, as well as “patties” like latkes or carrot patties. It works pretty well… I think there needs to be starch in there as well. Some use flour, some use bread crumbs. My mom has a really yummy mushroom/lentil patty that has panko bread crumbs and egg as a binder. Can’t remember the rest – let me know if you want me to look up the recipe.

    For a quick go-to recipe, if eggs are OK I do rice on the bottom, a long green vegetable in the middle (asparagus – my favourite, green beans, garlic scapes) drizzled with a butter sauce with garlic, an egg over-easy on top with grated parmesan. I can get the dinner together in about 15-20 minutes, about the time it takes the rice to cook.

    Or, with black beans, we do quick burritos. Black bean salad with olive oil, lemon juice or cider vinegar, salt, pepper and usually oregano (fresh is good – we have some in the garden). I will put spicy pepper on the table for Ed and myself to add in. Then we put the salad in a tortilla with grated cheese and olives on a basic night, a fresh salsa or sauteed peppers and onions or even a rice pilaf on a fancier night. Serve with a green salad. Again, all comes together very quickly.

  • sdmcclurg  On June 20, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Alas, Lara, TPE does not eat eggs or asparagus. That dish sounds lovely to me. She’d definitely do black beans though, and I may try that next time I’m in a hurry. Lovely idea and I keep all those ingredients on hand!

    Also, thanks for the feedback on the egg. That’s what I do for the latkes I make, it would surely work here.

  • mrr  On June 23, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    She confirms that both egg and a cereal binder (wheat germ or ground flaxseed – another place to hide it!!) were involved in the successful ones, and thinks there was some food processing as well. She’ll tell me more when she is back from the mountains and can get to her recipes.

    Unfortunately, it seems that my notes on bean patties were among the recipes lost when our old flat developed a leak in the kitchen roof right above the cookbook area. I had to throw away a bunch of soaked papers and a few cookbooks, and mold is still covering the pages of my prized seasonal binder…

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