These veggie burgers are made with plantain, which gives them a fragrant aroma and unique flavor. In addition to the plantain, they derive their Cuban flair from black beans, rice, red pepper, lime, coriander, paprika and cumin.
1 cup cooked brown rice (short-grain or sweet brown works great)
1 ripe plantain, peeled and diced (see Notes below for choosing plantains)
1 15-oz. can cooked black beans (or 1 ½ cups)
¾ cup rolled oats
1 medium red or yellow onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated carrots
½ of a red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1. Cook the rice if not already cooked. Place the diced plantain into a pot with some water and cook for about 5 minutes until it turns a bright yellow-orange. Drain off any existing water. This should result in about a half cup of cooked plantain. Set aside.
2. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a spoon. Place half of this mixture into a food processor and pulse about 7 times, then scrape down sides. Pulse again another 7-10 times until it is thoroughly mixed and sticking together but you can still see small pieces of vegetables (don’t overmix). After mixing both batches in your food processor, transfer it all back to the mixing bowl.
3. Roll into balls that are about 2” in diameter, then flatten into a burger patty between your hands or onto a cutting board, or my favorite way, between two pieces of parchment paper (great for not sticking). Place into a non-stick skillet that has been pre-heated to medium heat (if the heat is too high, they will burn and the insides will be underdone), and cook for 5 minutes. Flip over and cook another five minutes, or until both sides are lightly browned.
4. Serve with whole-grain burger buns, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, onion and/or mustard. Or serve on Romaine lettuce leaves without a bun. You can also roll the cooked burgers into steamed collard greens (steam 5 minutes then pat dry with a paper towel before rolling up sushi-style) with some condiments.
Preparation: 40 minutes (not counting cooking the rice)
Cooking time: 10 minutes per burger
Makes: 15 3-inch burgers
Choosing a plantain: Plantains come in varying sizes and appearances. For this recipe, I use a very ripe plantain so the flavor will be stronger. Look for a yellow plantain that is very ripe with dark brown/black spots on it (even if it looks on the brink of rotting, these are the good ones! See photo below). A plantain looks very much like a banana, just bigger and the ripe ones are more orange on the inside. Sometimes plantains are short, fat and green; sometimes they are long, yellow and thinner. Just be sure to get a ripe one. Get a couple if you’re not sure; they are inexpensive. They can be found most often in Mexican groceries. Whole Foods has them intermittently.
Plantain substitute: I have not tried these substitutions in this recipe, but if you can’t find plantain, you might try firm tofu mashed, or pre-cooked potatoes that have been mashed (white or sweet), skins on or off (on may be a little heartier). (Bananas would not make a good substitution, however.)
Texture: These burgers are a little softer than some veggie burgers, due to the plantain, but the flavor is so amazing that it makes up for it. If you want them to be firmer, add a bit more rolled oats, or refrigerate the mixture for at least a couple hours or overnight before making the patties.
Non-stick alternative: If you’d like to cook your burgers in the oven instead of using a non-stick skillet, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes (flipping over after first 10 minutes).
Leftovers: These make great leftovers! Freeze them or eat them throughout the week. They firm up as they cool and the day after. Eat them plain or with condiments, or crumbled over a green salad. These also make great traveling food, even cold.
Above: A very ripe plantain on the left and a less ripe one on the right; use the one on the left.
Above: This is how cooked plantain looks, very dark gold in color.
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