Sunday, February 6, 2011

follow-up to black bean cake recipe

There's a meatless meal idea conversation going on over on the Facebook page, and a recipe that I recently proposed to one friend was the Black & Pinto Bean Cakes when asked for a cheese-less idea that isn't spicy. I thought it might be helpful to share a few more photos of the prep of that recipe, in case any of you might be giving it a whirl tomorrow as a "Meatless Monday" option.

The reason I like this recipe, when cooking for varying tastes, is that it's a healthy base from which kids and adults can then customize their toppings. When I make these, I put out a "topping bar" of: sour cream, a mild and spicy salsa, chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, corn, shredded cheese, jalapenos, etc.

Here's the original recipe again:

Black & Pinto Bean Cakes

1 onion, diced
olive oil
two 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tub crumbled Feta**
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder (optional, omit if you want them more mild)**
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (maybe a little more)

Even if you're modifying the ingredients, the first two steps are always the same: preheat oven to 350 degrees and saute the onion in a bit of olive oil, until tender, and set aside to cool.

Then my recipe tells you to mash the beans coarsely. I find using a potato masher works best for this part.

This is where you want to get in terms of texture. Some beans are left whole and some are smashed into more of a paste. But if your family prefers a smoother texture, then keep on mashing!

Next you'll incorporate the rest of the ingredients into the mashed beans. I do this with my hands so I can really tell that things are mixed together.
My friend had asked for a meatless meal without cheese, that wasn't spicy so, here's how I'd go about modifying the original Black & Pinto Bean Cake recipe:

Because I am leaving the Feta out, I'll add a hearty pinch of Kosher salt so I still get the saltiness the Feta gives the cakes. My kids like cumin, so I'd leave that in. But in lieu of chili powder, I would add some or all of the following to bump up the flavor in a non-spicy way:
  • lemon zest
  • fresh cilantro or 1-2 cubes of Dorot frozen cilantro
  • minced garlic or 1-2 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic
  • or I could go for more of an Indian flavor and add mild curry powder...
As you can see, these bean cakes are really a blank palate that you can flavor to, as you wish. As soon as you've added your choice of spices and herbs, you shape bean mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick patties and place them on a cookie sheet that's been lightly sprayed or rubbed with olive oil. Then bake the cakes at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through and a little crispy on the outside, carefully flipping the cakes after 10 minutes.

You can also freeze uncooked black & pinto bean cakes for a later dinner. I layered them in a tupperware between sheets of parchment. The day we were going to have them I thawed them in the fridge and then baked them as instructed. Had I baked them from frozen, I would have just doubled the cook time, flipping them after 20 minutes instead.

Extra cooked black & pinto bean cakes can be stored in the fridge, and simply heated in the microwave. They lose their crisp outer edge, but are still tasty.

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