Summer is officially in full-swing and whether you are in the northeast or southwest, the only thing more indicative of summer, other than the sunshine itself, is grilling.  Although the components of what make a grilled meal ‘authentic’ vary greatly across state and latitudinal lines, we can all agree on one core principle: food cooked over a fire is heavenly on a summer evening.  These vegan black bean burgers are no exception and sure to please everyone on your picnic invite list, including vegans, meat lovers, omnivores, or even, with one simple ingredient substitution, those who are gluten-free!  The burgers may be cooked on a skillet or griddle–either on a grill while enjoying the great outdoors or on the stovetop in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The following recipe is courtesy of the DNC Parks & Resorts culinary team at Shenandoah National Park.  It was presented and served during the National Park Service’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program kickoff in June 2013 in Washington D.C.  Toppings included sweet onion relish, roasted garlic aioli, slow roasted tomatoes, and local watercress, but are infinitely customizable.

Vegan Black Bean Burger 

Recipe Yields: 4 Portions

Nutritional Information: 486 calories per portion, 5 calories from fat

1½ Pound Cooked Black Beans, roughly chopped

2 Ounces Red Onion, diced small

½ Cup Cilantro, washed & finely minced

4 Ouces Fresh Tomato Salsa

½ Cup Cooked Brown Rice

¼ Cup Lightly Toasted Panko Bread Crumbs

½ Cup Masa Corn Flour

2 Ounces Fresh Garlic, minced

2 Teaspoon Cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cold Water or Vegetable Stock as necessary to help bind the mixture

In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa corn flour, brown rice, water, fresh salsa, panko, and cumin.  Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes then fold the remaining ingredients in by hand.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Scoop the mixture onto a preheated griddle and cook 5-7 minutes per side, until warmed through and firm to the touch.  Top as desired, and serve immediately.

Did you know? Though they may be small, beans pack a huge nutritional punch while being easy on your waistline and your wallet!  Not only do beans provide substantial amounts of essential nutrients such as calcium, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin B1, and many others, they also benefit the digestive tract, help regulate blood sugar, and promote cardiovascular health.  Beans are infinitely versatile, and these burgers are a great way to introduce them to your balanced diet.  Read more about the nutrients in black beans here.