It’s almost Memorial Day guys, and I don’t know what you have planned for your cookout, but I have the perfect burger to slap on the grill and then sink my teeth into. My Black Bean and Black Rice Burger, aka Black Burger.
Memorial Day is always a dramatic day around here in the nation’s capital. Friday, as I drove home early on the Beltway, masses of bikers on their hogs festooned with American flags were already pouring into D.C. for the annual Rolling Thunder rally. As a rookie reporter at The Washington Times, I covered Rolling Thunder – a parade where thousands of veterans ride down Constitution Avenue, their motorcycles creating a sound that many say reminds them of Operation Rolling Thunder at the Vietnam war– more times than I can remember. The rally is meant to draw the federal government’s attention to veteran issues that linger today. Families of fallen soldiers throng the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to look for the names of their loved ones lost to a controversial war, and take rubbings.
For the rest of us, though, Memorial Day is more about beautiful weather and cookouts. This year, I wanted a burger that was hefty and chewy and filled with healthy goodness, and this one scored on all three counts. The black beans and black rice give it great texture and flavor — in fact, both these ingredients are so delicious on their own that you can just mix them up and eat them out of a bowl, with perhaps a little salt added. Black rice is also glutinous and chewy, which makes it perfect burger material. It holds together well without the need for too many binders, and it cooks up perfectly on a griddle — and then on a grill — without falling apart. As for the nutrition– it’s black beans and black rice, guys. Both, like many black or purple foods, are packed with antioxidants, protein and fiber. Need I say more?
I wanted to keep this burger rather clean because I wanted these two ingredients to shine, so I used some sparkling, fresh Asian flavorings in it: mirin, rice vinegar, tamari and chili garlic sauce. I also added an ingredient that I love but you might rarely, if ever, have seen in a burger before: it’s a vegetable, it’s also black, and its…okay, I’ll tell you… eggplant.
If you are one of those crazy people who doesn’t like eggplant, or know someone crazy who doesn’t, this is the perfect way to sneak this delicious and healthful veggie into your — or their– diet. I roast the eggplant first in the oven, mash it up, and add it to the burger. It adds a beautiful flavor note and more texture to the burger without screaming out: I’m here!
So here’s the recipe, then, and hope you’re looking forward to a beautiful day of family, fun, and friends. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup dry black beans (substitute with 2 cups canned. Be sure to drain and rinse)
- ½ cup black rice
- ½ large eggplant
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
- 2 tbsp tamari (use soy sauce by all means)
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- Oil or oil spray for cooking
- Cook black beans by rinsing them, then placing in a large pot with enough water to cover by an inch. When the water starts to boil, lower heat to a simmer, slap on a lid, and let the beans cook about an hour or until tender. You can also do this in a pressure cooker which would expedite the process. Drain the beans and set aside.
- Cook the black rice by adding it to a pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, slap on a lid, and let the rice cook 25-30 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Let it stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.
- Roast the eggplant by spraying both sides with some oil and then placing, cut side down, on a baking sheet covered with tinfoil (not necessary but makes for way easy cleanup). Roast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is really tender and a knife pierced in the thickest part goes cleanly through. Cool the eggplant and then peel off the charred skin.
- Scoop the flesh of the eggplant into a food processor bowl along with the black rice and black beans.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Pulse five to ten times until the ingredients are evenly mixed but still textured and not pasty.
- Check seasoning, and add salt if needed.
- Remove to a bowl and mix in the rice flour.
- Shape into eight flat patties. These are quite hefty and you can make them smaller if you wish, for slider buns or just because.
- Heat a cast iron or nonstick griddle. Spray with some oil and cook the burgers, about four minutes on either side or until they are nice and charred.
- You can freeze these by separating with wax paper and throw them on the grill for the cookout.
- I served these with some onions, leafies, and avocado atop by whole-wheat hamburger buns and they were perfect.
Holy Cow!’s veggie burgers, shared here on these pages over many years, are perfect eats for your vegan Memorial Day weekend. Try these: