Spicy Fiesta Veggie Burgers

Happy National Tequila Day! Prior to 12 p.m. today, I did not know that this day existed (thank you Twitter!), for which my wallet, liver and parents are all thankful. Having learned all about tequila in Mexico, I decided to eschew celebrations of this great holiday, and focus on what you might eat while mainlining politely sipping tequila instead.

But before we get to these fiesta veggie burgers, I have a terrible confession to make: last week, I ate meat. I know, I am actually the worst. To defend myself slightly, I ate out a lot last week, and after two straight nights of ordering vegetable pasta, I went to a Spanish place on Thursday and broke. Then at my aunt’s on Sunday, I broke again, in the face of the delicious dinner that she made before realizing I wasn’t eating meat. And I can already tell you that I will be breaking again over the weekend, as I head home to Maryland for my mom’s birthday.

So, turns out I have zero willpower. But also, even in a city as diverse and alternative diet-friendly as NYC, it’s kind of hard to be vegetarian. Most restaurants have one vegetarian option, but it’s often a cheese-laden pasta dish. (I refuse to accept a green salad as a meal.) And while there are some vegetarian- or vegan-focused places, I don’t want to force my dietary choices on others. It’s much harder than you’d think to find a place that caters to all diets relatively evenly.*

But it’s a new week, so I’m starting over, and trying to stay vegetarian during the week. Which brings us to these spicy little fiesta veggie burgers, perfect for enjoying with an ice cold Corona shot of tequila. (God I love a good segue. Too bad this wasn’t one.)

As you well know, veggie burgers are my jam. Having already conquered a chickpea version, I next set my sights on a black bean one, since you know, I’m a wee bit obsessed with black beans. I couldn’t quite find a recipe that had everything I wanted, so I created my own. And then forgot to put in an egg. So these are a tad mushy.

But otherwise, they’re everything a good veggie burger should be: crisp exterior, with rich vegetable flavors (no fake meat please), a fiery kick and smoky undertones. I especially loved the kernels of sweet corn, which contrasted with the spiciness nicely. While not the best thing I’ve made this week (I’ll share that with you soon!), they were definitely a welcome return to the world of vegetarianism.

*I have some personal favorites that do this well (Otto, The Smith, Founding Farmers in Maryland / D.C.), but if you guys have any recommendations, please send them my way!

Spicy Fiesta Veggie Burgers

– 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

– 1 15-ounce can corn, rinsed and drained

– 1/2 medium red onion, diced

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 medium bell pepper, diced

– 1 jalapeño, diced (you can remove the seeds if you want)

– 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used a mix of panko and whole wheat crumbs)

– 1 large egg*

– 1-1/2 tablespoons cumin

– 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder

– salt and pepper, to taste

*As you know, I forgot to add one, so my burgers didn’t quite bake up right (though they were still delicious). Adding an egg will make the mixture more wet, so you may need more breadcrumbs in order to shape the patties properly.

1) Preheat the oven to 425. Coat a lined baking sheet with tin foil.

2) Mix together all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. The mixture should be thick and somewhat sticky — add breadcrumbs if it’s too wet (see above re: breadcrumbs and adding an egg).

3) Form the mixture into palm-sized patties, then place on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway. Let cool slightly before serving.

Topping suggestions: sliced avocado (or you could get fancy with it and just make guac), pepper jack cheese, cotija or feta, salsa fresca, a lime-spiked slaw, chipotle mayo … and perhaps an actual bun.

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