Go Meatless for Dinner Once a Week. The typical American family dinner includes a large serving of meat, a vegetable, and a starchy side dish. My family is no different. Our dinners have been mostly meat-centric over the years. The meals focused on either a beef, chicken, pork or fish entrée with the side dishes playing a smaller role in our dinners. But that has been changing over the past few months. I have been adding a meatless meal to our dinner menu about once a week. A favorite entrée of ours is Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers.
I was always a little leery of the veggie burgers available in my local grocery store’s freezer section. The preformed patties with less than real looking grill marks reminded me more of pressed sawdust than a burger. My idea of a burger was a big, fat, juicy beef one. I was convinced that a burger made from vegetables was not a real burger at all. But my daughter so wisely stated that it’s on a bun, it’s burger shaped, it’s served with French fries….it’s a burger. I’ll buy that. And after fiddling with some bean and veggie burger recipes, I am now a veggie burger convert.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers are loaded with a variety of vegetables and do not skimp on flavor. Packed with protein rich black beans, the hearty burgers have a nutritional punch from the added vegetables. The sweet potatoes are complex carbohydrates full of fiber and vitamins A and C. The mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins. And the spinach is one of the most nutrient packed vegetables and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E as well as iron and calcium.
The burgers take about 30 minutes to make. The vegetables are sautéed before they are added to the black beans. About half of the beans are kept whole while the remainder are mashed. This helps bind the burgers and gives them texture. After forming the burgers, a quick sauté in a hot pan adds a crispy browned crust and enhances their flavor. Served on whole wheat buns with a spicy yogurt sauce, thick slices of tomatoes and crisp lettuce, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers will be a welcome addition to your dinner table. I suggest making a double or even triple batch as they freeze well and will make for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.
Adding a meatless meal to your dinnertime is a healthy way to eat. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers are also economical as a dinner for 4 can be made for around 5 dollars. That will help keep a little extra cash in your wallet which is a good thing.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated, about 2 cups firmly packed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped baby spinach
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Whole wheat buns
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, sweet potato, garlic, scallions and salt. Sauté for 5 – 7 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to brown and the sweet potato is just cooked through. Add the spinach, cumin, and cayenne and continue sautéing the vegetables until the spinach is wilted, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.
In a large bowl, add the black beans and mash with a potato masher until about 1/2 of the beans are smashed and the remaining beans are still whole. Add the sautéed vegetables to the beans and stir to combine. Form into 4 burgers and place on a platter.
Heat the same sauté pan to medium high heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook the burgers for 3 – 4 minutes per side or until crispy and browned. Remove to a platter. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, chipotle powder, and smoked paprika for the Spicy Yogurt Sauce.
Serve burgers on whole wheat buns with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and a dollop of the Spicy Yogurt Sauce.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 369 calories; 92 calories from fat (16 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 18 g protein.
Amy Casey, of Sparta, is a food columnist for the New Jersey Herald and cookbook author. She has developed a wealth of recipes as a personal chef and also while cooking for her own family of five. See more of her recipes on her website www.amycaseycooks.com and in her just published cookbook for e-readers Dinner for a Year – 52 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Spice Up Your Family Menu Planning. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amycaseycooks and on Twitter at amycaseycooks.