Sweet potato burgers with roasted garlic spread

I think we’re all just about ready to close the door on winter and welcome Spring with open arms. There are signs all around us that Spring’s arrival is imminent. We moved the clocks ahead today, the temperatures have risen to above freezing, birds are chirping and if the wind is blowing right, you can catch a whiff of the earth’s aroma sneaking out from beneath all those layers of snow.

With the changing of the seasons also comes a motivation for Spring cleaning and nothing is exempt – especially the fridge. We have quite a few odds and ends ingredients that have been taking up residence for too long, so after doing an assessment, I determined that sweet potato burgers and baked onion rings would be the best thing to make today.

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Black bean pepper jack burgers

Spring may be on the way but there’s still plenty of comfort food season left. Not wanting to miss out, today I decided to make black bean burgers. The recipe is simple, using the typical black bean burger ingredients, but this one has the cheese mixed in.

The only alteration I made to this was to add quinoa to the mixture. I also made my own salsa. There’s no reason to buy the jarred stuff when you can make your own with just a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes. The recipe says it makes 4 burgers, but they are small, so if you want heartier portions, maybe increase the ingredients to one and a half or twice the amount listed below.

When I make these again, I’m going to add some sriracha to the mixture. The pepper jack was yummy, but didn’t give as much spice as I was hoping for.

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Ingredients (Adapted from Fine Cooking)

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 15.5-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 oz. finely grated pepper Jack cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large scallion, minced
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil; more for the plate
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • Jarred salsa, for serving  (I made my own, recipe below)
  • Sliced avocado, for serving

Quick Salsa

  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes (I used these because regular tomatoes have not been very good lately)
  • ½ jalepeno, with seeds if you want some heat
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 2 tsps chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove

Put the oats in a food processor and pulse three times to roughly chop. Add half of the beans and pulse into a coarse paste, about 6 pulses. Add the egg, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt and process to mix well, about 1 minute. Transfer the bean mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining beans, the cheese, scallion, and cilantro.

With wet hands, form the bean mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties and transfer to a lightly oiled plate. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to let the burgers set up.

Heat a large heavy-duty skillet (preferably cast iron) on high heat until very hot; add the oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Cook the burgers until browned, with a good crust, 2 to 3 minutes; then carefully flip and cook, flipping again if necessary, until the burgers feel firm when pressed with a fingertip, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the burgers in the buns, topped with the salsa and avocado.