Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers

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Somehow it has been over a month since I last posted about food.  It isn't that I haven't been cooking, but life has been a bit overwhelming since we returned from Asia in April.  First, I started a new job!  After almost six years of practicing law at a firm, I've moved "in-house" to work for the world's largest producer of mozzarella that is conveniently headquartered on our neighborhood.  Proposed alternative titles to "Corporate Attorney" include Counselor of Curds and Moosquire.  In mid-May we finally had our last snow, which means that we are experiencing our first spring / early summer as homeowners. We've spent hours weeding and spreading mulch and laying sod and while the work is incredibly satisfying, it never seems to end!  Between work and household chores the days just disappear.  

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This past weekend I finally made time for cooking.  One food item that always disappoints me is the veggie burger.  Store bought versions are usually lacking in flavor and with a cardboard texture and I've always figured they must be easy to make.  I wanted something spicy and flavorful but also a burger that would stick together and stand up to grilling since it is officially that time of year!  With the combination of roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and an egg, these burgers have great flavor and moisture and stick together without issue when grilled.  Adjust the seasoning to your spice tolerance - these aren't spicy per se, but you they have a subtle kick.  I also think you could use any grain (quinoa, millet, oats, bread crumbs) -- I just happened to have cooked brown rice available.

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We've been enjoying our burgers over a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and avocado, but only because I haven't made Homemade Hamburger Buns recently.  Now that our whole yard is mulched, perhaps I'll actually get to those before the 4th of July?

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Yield = 6
Prep Time = 1 hour (includes roasting time)
Adapted from Whole Foods

Ingredients
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 onion, chopped (I used a white onion - red or yellow would work well, too)
1 cup brown rice, cooked (I think you could substitute a range of grains, including quinoa or even bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
Hot sauce (optional - I added 3 dashes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spread the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Using a food processor, pulse the onions and sweet potatoes until just combined being careful not to over-process (I think I did about 5 pulses).  Add the beans and pulse another 2-3 times until combined and the beans are in smaller pieces.  Alternatively, if you don't feel like using a food processor, finely dice the onion and mash use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes and mix them with the onions.  In a separate bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a fork and mix them into the sweet potatoes and the onions.  I think it's key to be sure the onion is finely diced whether you use a food processor or a just hand mix the ingredients.

3.  Add the egg, rice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, and hot sauce (I used about 4 dashes, but we like things spicy).  Form 6 patties of even thickness.

4.  To cook the veggie burgers, either heat a large skillet over medium heat and arrange a single layer of burgers and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes) or grill the burgers!  We grilled ours using a gas grill and they took about 12 minutes, but obviously this will vary by how hot your grill is.  Enjoy the burgers on a bun or served over a salad... I particularly enjoyed ours with avocado.

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On a completely separate note, aren't lilacs just the loveliest?  We aren't getting many this year because of our late snows, but they are just so fragrant.