Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Veggie Meals for a Meat Lovin' Husband: Black Bean Burgers

This year, I decided it would be awesome for Aaron and me to eat more vegetables. We do a good job with our fruit and protein, but generally are a little deficient in the green leafy area. So I decided to embark upon a blog series and life experiment where I search for recipes that accomplish two things: satisfy our bodies with veggie goodness, and at the same time, make enjoyable meals for a man who likes his meat (and I'll admit, I am a big fan of bacon).

For the first meal, I began with some ingredients which commonly pass for vegetables, but technically are not vegetables, namely, avocados and jalapeños. Onions were the only true vegetables that made an appearance. However, there was no meat involved, making it a vegetarian meal.

I began with the black bean burgers. I read a basic recipe online, but I wanted to expand on that by adding sauteed onions, garlic, and a jalapeño to the patties. My goal was to try and pack as much flavor as I could into the patties, so that the meat lovin' husband would still enjoy eating them. Aaron is really great about being willing to let me experiment with my cooking, and so I wanted something that he could relish and savor.

Making the patties was really easy. I mashed one can of black beans with some bread crumbs to hold it together, and added the sauteed “veggie” mixture, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to give the patties some punch. The resulting mixture was sticky, but held together well. I also added some flour near the end to ensure that it stayed together.

Bell peppers would probably also be good in the vegetable mix, or perhaps corn.
Next, I simply fried the patties on the stove in oil. I made them very thick, and let them brown on each side before taking them out. I had bought some of our favorite rolls from Trader Joe's to act as buns, and now it was time for the finishing touch: the avocado aioli.

Cooking up some magic!
Aaron and I love chipotle aioli, and we have not yet been able to find anything in a grocery store that matches our cravings. So I decided to make the aioli myself, and quickly found that most recipes for aioli call for mayonnaise, a condiment which I, to put it politely, loathe. I began to search a little deeper for recipes without mayonnaise, and found one which replaced mayo with avocado. I was enchanted by this enticing idea because I was sure that if I said the word avocado, Aaron would be far more excited about tasting my experiment.

I don't have a food processor, and often get away with using my blender, but if you have a food processor and are interested in aioli, I think it would be a better way to go. Maybe someday! I cut up two avocados and put them in the blender with lime juice, a generous helping of cilantro, extra virgin olive oil (great to drizzle in to achieve a fine consistency while using a blender) and salt and pepper. This made quite a bit of aioli, and one avocado probably would have been fine for the two of us, and our lunches for the next day. However, we still ate all the aioli that I had made.

It's not a great picture, but it will give you an idea of the consistency.
Dinner was done and ready to eat! I had tasted the patties and determined that they were delicious, but I was curious to see what Aaron would think. Would they be a viable substitute for ground beef?

The final product!
Aaron loved them! I was so excited! The aioli definitely helped, and granted, he said that I should make meat burgers sometime to go with the aioli, but he really did like the black bean burgers. He said he would eat them again. Early in our marriage, I told him to be completely honest about my cooking, because if he said he liked something, he would probably find himself eating it again. This system of honesty has helped me learn to take loving criticism better, especially when when I like a dinner but Aaron doesn't. The purpose behind the judgment is clear: a dining experience that we both find tasty. His honest opinion lets me know when a meal is a keeper and when I need to look for a new recipe.

Overall, it was a very successful opening to my blog series! I am excited to see where these ideas take us, in this new quest to introduce more vegetables into our diet, and am sure that avocado aioli will certainly help the vegetables go down easier!

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