Black Rice Black Bean Beet Burgers

[Disclosure:  “I received a gift card to purchase the rice used in the development of the recipe in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by USA Rice Federation and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”]

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Lately I’ve been HUNGRY. Long days make a girl want to eat eat eat until the cows come home. Actually what keeps happening is I won’t think I’m hungry until I actually sit down and start eating. Then once I’ve finished a normal amount of food my body goes, “omg. i’m starving. keep feeding me plz.” and so I oblige and munch the night away.

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So on nights like those nights – after a long work day or maybe a day I went on a run (which hasn’t been in a while but whatevs), I want something to fill me up for more than 10 minutes, which isn’t always an easy task. I tend to be a nibbler and grazer as apposed to what biology refers to as a “bulk eater” but every so often I just need a burger, ya feel me? And since I don’t eat meat and/or dairy, the word “burger” has a slightly different meaning than it may to another human being.

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To me, burger means a (meatless) hearty, spicy, nourishing and satisfying tasty savory thing that tastes good with hot sauce and ketchup. Those are my only requirements. Other than that I’m pretty open to many different types of veggie burgers. I grew up eating lots of frozen veggie burgers and always loved them for taste and convenience reasons, and recently, I’ve been more and more curious about experimenting with making my own.

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I think one of the keys to a good veggie burger is the addition of some grains of goodness. And y’all know by now that black rice is one of my FAVORITE grains of all times. I love Black Rice Salads, like the Rainbow Black Rice Salad and this Autumn Black Rice Salad, as well as in pudding, so today, I decided to put it in a burger.

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Black rice is not only full of protein and fiber, it is naturally gluten free, convenient, and has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease when part of a healthy diet. It’s no secret that I adore healthy carbohydrate sources, and black rice is such a powerhouse I can fully endorse others to Think Rice when looking for a nourishing grain option. I especially love black rice for it’s unique nutty taste and al dente texture, and gorgeous purply hue. In fact, this huge inspired me to pair it with beets to make a 50 shades-of-purple-type burger, and rounded out the root veggies and rice with some hearty black beans for an added boost of protein, fiber, and flavor. I used U.S. grown rice for this recipe.

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The result? A delicious, hearty, healthy veggie burger that is sweet, spicy, and satisfying. The recipe makes about 6 veggie patties, making it the perfect meal to make for dinner one night and have leftover lunches ready to go for the next few days. That is, if you can prevent yourself from eating all 6 at once.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour (includes cooking rice and baking burgers)
Level: easy

makes about 6 burgers, serving 3-6 depending on hunger level 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked US-grown black rice (approximately 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked beets
  • 1/2 onion or 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, almonds, or pecans (or other nut, I used walnut)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (reduce or omit if you don’t like spice!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce or omit if you don’t like spice!)
  • 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon Sriracha or other hot sauce based on personal spice level preference

Directions:

1. Cook black rice according to package. I usually use a 2:1 ratio of water:rice and cook for about 30 minutes until al dente. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Chop onion or scallion and rinse and drain beans. Cook beets if needed as desires (can be cubed and roasted at 425 for about 25-35 minutes and/or boiled whole for 45-60 minutes). Peel beets. Personally I just used a steamed peeled package from Trader Joe’s. Canned would also work). Once beets are cooked, process in a food processor or blender into fine pieces.

3. In a food processor or blender pulse walnuts into a crumbly meal. Stop before it becomes the consistency of a nut butter.

3. In a large bowl combine cooked rice, beet shreds, beans, onion, flax, walnut meal, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and Sriracha. Mash slightly (I like my beans a little chunky in the burgers still, but it’s up to you!) with a potato masher and/or whisk and mix together until well combine.

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4. Using your hands, take about 1/4th to 1/3rd cup mixture at a time and shape into a patty, about 1/4th inch thick. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with rest of mixture.

5. Bake on a middle rack for 30-40 minutes until crisped lightly on edges. Remove from oven and enjoy on a delicious bun with toppings of your choice, or as is.

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For more Recipes to Inspire you to Think Rice, click around below:

Autumn Black Rice Salad [with Pomegranate, Coconut & Sweet Potatoes]

This morning I had this odd, sudden realization that I haven’t made or eaten black rice in a while. Actually, it wasn’t that sudden or odd. I thought about it after Beyond Sushi Instagramed this. And then I cried and sobbed because I wanted Beyond Sushi, because as we all know it’s my favorite thing on earth.

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Then I thought fondly back to my beloved Rainbow Black Rice Salad. I love love love that dish. It’s flawless in my opinion. Crunchy, fresh, bright, flavorful and satisfying. Ahh, yes, I’ve eaten that black rice salad many-a-times and never been let down.

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After a few minutes reminiscing over all the good times I’ve eaten said salad, I decided that lunch today was going to be a black rice salad, of sorts. Except I didn’t have those ingredients and I was feeling like something a bit more fall-ish since the Rainbow Black Rice Salad is a bit summery. I consulted my fridge. Half a pre-cut/seeded pomegranate. Awesome. I was instantly inspired by how bright the red would look against black rice. Step one towards recipe creation/greatness. I decided to work from here.

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Next stop: pantry. Sweet potatoes are never NOT in my pantry, and today was no exception. Grabbed a big one, and got chopping. While I popped those in the oven, I debated what else would pop on the plate with red and orange. As I did so, I reached for more ground coffee, which happened to be next to some coconut shreds. Coconut + black rice is also a favorite combo of mine (it worked amazingly in this black rice pudding) so those went in, as well. Upon assembly, I added some cilantro. Initially I thought this flavor combo would be weird, but it somehow pulled everything together. The clean note of the cilantro worked well with the earthy black rice, the tangy crunchy pomegranate seeds, and the creamy, hearty sweet potato cubes. The dish came together so well, my mom even decided she liked it better than the Rainbow Black Rice Salad. Personally I love them both, and think both are beautiful and satisfying for any event depending on your current taste mood.

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The tanginess of the pomegranate seeds removes the need for an acidic dressing as in the Rainbow Black Rice salad, and really all this salad needs is a drizzle of good olive oil, and a few dashes of salt and pepper. This is another keeper, I tell ya. Make a big batch and serve as a side dish, entree, or pack for lunch. Eat up!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Level: Easy

Serves 2 as entree or 4 as side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1 pomegranate, cut and seeded
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup coconut shreds or chips (sweetened or unsweetened depending on preference)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, cook black rice on the stovetop according to directions on the package.

2. While the rice is simmering, peel and cube sweet potato into bite-sized pieces and place in the oven. If you’re short on time, you can also just microwave these for 3-4 minutes until tender.

3. Cut and seed the pomegranate and set seeds aside. Dice cilantro.

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4. Cool rice and sweet potato cubes. When they are cool, pour rice into a bowl, and mix 3/4ths of your sweet potato cubes, your pomegranate seeds, your coconut, and cilantro (saving the remaining 1/4th for garnish).

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5. Drizzle olive oil onto salad and add salt and pepper and mix.

6. Serve rice salad in a bowl or plate, topping with remaining sweet potato cubes, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and coconut. Add more salt & pepper if desired. Enjoy~!

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Recap: The Seed Experience NYC – Cooking Demo with Guy Vaknin of Beyond Sushi

This weekend I was fortunate enough to win tickets to The Seed Experience courtesy of Beyond Sushi. They had a giveaway and I entered and somehow won! Whoohoo. So on Saturday and Sunday I trekked myself down to Soho and ate a lot of samples and talked to a lot of cool inspiring people and ate a lot more samples and had me a good time.

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The Seed Experience was a collection of plant-based speakers, demonstrations, films, samples, more samples, and what I was most interested in: COOKING DEMOS.

vegan goat cheese for days!
vegan goat cheese for days!

And yes! There was a cooking demo by the owner/executive chef of  my ALL time favorite restaurant Beyond Sushi. You better believe I went in squealing.

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So on Saturday afternoon after I drowned myself in new products like aloe water, maple water, tons and tons of vegan cheese and ice cream (which were all very delicious!) I watched Guy Vaknin (owner/executive chef of Beyond Sushi) make some rolls, speak about how he got where he was, and wow the crowd with incredible avocado filleting skills (seriously, you should have seen it).

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I’m planning to soon post a recipe with a how-to for making black rice sushi but I thought I’d dedicate a little time/space to speaking about Guy:

Turns out Guy started as a chef and did a lot of catering for kosher crowds. Kosher people have lots of dietary guidelines that do not allow them to eat certain things at certain times. I’m not going to pretend I understand the rules well, but Guy mentioned there was rule about not preparing and consuming fish and meat together. But Guy wanted to make a sushi roll appetizer for the crowds. So he started making vegetarian rolls. Though he’s a trained chef, he was not a sushi chef, nor even a vegetarian when he started this concept. He sort of learned it form another caterer, and when he was off duty had no other option other than to master the art.

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Guy, a culinary creative genius, used black rice in his sushi instead of white rice. He said he “saw the reaction,” and knew there was something special about this concept. He started bringing his black rice/vegetarian sushi to vegetarian food festivals, and got lots of positive crowd reactions, inquires, and press, he was inspired to go back to the kitchen and keep working. After a second year vegetarian food festivals, he decided to take a big risk, poured everything he had into one business concept, and started Beyond Sushi. He built the original location on 14th street (between 2nd & 3rd – see my original rave review here) and started by serving vegetarian sushi.

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For a few weeks, customers came in and Guy noticed that some were confused by the different vegetarian vs. vegan options, as some of his original menu items contained eggs and dairy in their rolls and/or sauces. Guy made a lot of personal reflections and seriously considered desires of customers, and decided to turn the restaurant completely vegan, and made the switch to a vegan lifestyle himself. He says he can now “not even picture” life any other way.

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The tiny sushi shop quickly exploded in popularity and has received endless rave reviews and press features for its creative and delicious approach to vegan dining and sushi. Guy still works there 7 days a week, usually in the downstairs kitchen area.

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He puts a phenomenal amount of thought and effort into every roll and every piece of sushi that beyond sushi produces. I was shocked at the time and effort the prep work behind each item on their menu. All the regular rolls have such depth and preparation – including marinating and fermenting of vegetables (often overnight) to get the flavors exactly where he wants them. The rolls of the month are all produced using local, seasonal produce from the Union Square Green Market, which although are more expensive, truly reflect the flavors of the season and the responsible sustainable drive behind the Beyond Sushi concept. It was humbling to see such a successful man so deeply passionate about his craft. He also addressed the possibility of expansion – turns out he has been approached for franchise opportunities, but wants to stay small so the quality of each roll can be carefully controlled. People are hard at work, Guy insists, every morning at 5am, julienning and prepping vegetables and sauces to stuff the rolls with flavor. This care and attention to detail are part of the reason Guy won’t go big (yet). “You can’t mass-produce this,” he said, looking down at his just-crafted roll.

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And as a huge fan having had almost every roll and wrap on the menu, I must agree with him. There is nothing like it. That’s why it’s my favorite restaurant and why I can’t even go to another sushi place since trying Beyond Sushi.

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So thank you, Guy, for the inspiration. And thank you Beyond Sushi for the tickets to The Seed, the inspiration, and for continuously delighting my taste buds. I will forever be a loyal fan and customer – wishing you all the success in the world !