The Best Way Out is Always Through {black bean burgers with cilantro-pepita pesto}

This week is just one of those weeks. You know, where Monday leaves you saying “is it Friday yet??” and then every day needs to be Friday until it finally is Friday. It’s a week where you need to bump some serious jams and plug away. I’ve been known to be majorly in the zone while I’m listening to my Beyonce Pandora station at work (I have honed mine over the years so it is the best balance of 90’s R&B as well as Queen Bey and her contemporaries of course)…literally I just groove away at my desk to “***FLAWLESS” and then “Poison” and I feel better while dealing with an intense workday. People have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention…#sorrynotsorry

My brain is being pulled in a thousand directions this week. Work is crazy as it is and I have to go to a conference in St. Louis next week (though I am excited to try pizza with provel cheese, Pappy’s BBQ, and the various treats at Busch stadium). Life is crazy, I’m trying to figure out where I will be living for two years starting in the fall (heyo, grad school!). Feeling overwhelmed, I’m trying to keep in mind that Robert Frost quote:

Point is, with this doozy of a week I needed a soul-satisfying meal that wouldn’t leave me in a food coma. This is a meal you can feel good about. It is satisfying without being heavy, and also it’s pretty darn healthy. They keep well and make for a delicious lunch for a few days to come. The cilantro-pepita pesto is zippy and a perfect complement to the smoky patties. They’d also be great with that sriracha aioli for additional tang and spice. I ate them wrapped up in butter lettuce because it looked great at the store and I just love that stuff. Toasty buns are also an appropriate vessel, or even pita pockets.

These might be the best way out and through for me this week. I think you should give them a shot, too 🙂

Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto

What you need:

  • Black Bean Burgers (Adapted ever-so-slightly from Serious Eats)

    • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/4 c pepitas, chopped
    •  1 onion, diced
    • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced + 1 tsp adobo sauce
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 2 tbsp mayo
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 c panko breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 c finely crumbled cotija (Serious Eats also suggests feta as a good option)
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil)
    • Serving ideas: toasted buns/pita bread or butter lettuce, cilantro-pepita pesto, pickled onions (caramelized would be great too), sriracha aioli, cheese, etc.
  • Cilantro-Pepita Pesto

    • 2 c cilantro, packed (roughly 1.5-2 bunches, leaves & softer stems)
    • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1 large (or 2 small) garlic clove, roughly chopped
    • 1/2 c pepitas
    • 1/4 tsp chipotle power
    • 1/4 tsp cumin
    • 1/3-to-1/2 c olive oil or neutral veggie oil
    • Salt & Pepper

Getting it done:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and put your black beans on a baking sheet so they are ready to go when the oven is hot.
  • In the meantime, make the pesto:
    • Throw everything except the oil into your food processor. Add just a small amount of salt and pepper, we want to be able to adjust as necessary.
    • Pulse the food processor a couple of times to break things down like this.


    • Scrape the sides down into the bowl and then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in your oil (start with just 1/3 c so you can adjust). Pause it to scrape down the sides before running the motor again for a bit. Once you scrape it down again, give it a taste and adjust your salt/pepper as needed. You may even want to add a little more oil to smooth things out, or a little more lime to punch it up.
    • Once you’re all done, clean out your food processor since you’ll need it shortly 🙂
Green Goodness.

Green Goodness.

  • Now that the oven is preheated, throw your beans in there and let them roast for about 20 minutes to get rid of some moisture. They should crack and shrivel a little. Sounds tasty, right? Hush up and trust the process.
  • While the beans are going, saute your onion and poblano over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of oil, throwing in your cumin and a hefty pinch each of salt & pepper. Once they’re soft (5-7 minutes), stir in your garlic and cook for about a minute. Finally, add in your chipotle+sauce. Give this all a good stir and let it cook for anoher minute or so. Remove from heat and let it cool down a bit.
  • Pulse your now roasted and somewhat cooled beans in your food processor several times until all the beans are broken down but yous till have some chunks. You don’t want it to be completely mealy.
  • Throw all of your patty ingredients into a large bowl–that means you, beans, onion-poblano mix, mayo, panko, pepitas, and additional salt & pepper. Get in there with your hands and mix that stuff around.
  • Form your patties, making sure you compact them as much as you can or else they will fall apart (I had one hot mess of a patty in the first round).
  • To cook: heat a little vegetable oil in your skillet over medium heat and add 3-4 patties when the oil is shimmering. Don’t overcrowd the skillet; you will need to do this in probably 2 batches. Cook them for about 5 minutes or until evenly browned on the bottom before flipping them and cooking for another 5 minutes.


All browned up!

All browned up!

  • Serve them up! Mine were topped with a dollop of pesto and pickled onion, but you could also do avocado, some sort of creamy spread, caramelized onions, etc…whatever tickles your fancy 🙂
That's a wrap! Oh god, sorry for the puns.

That’s a wrap! Oh god, sorry for the puns. #sorrynotsorry

This zippy pesto balances out the smoky patties, and the added crunch of the pickled onions took things even higher. The patties hold together well and have great texture without getting dried out. Ut was a great dinner, and also a super lunch at work to feel satisfied without the food coma. I’m actually looking forward to experimenting with this bean-drying technique–maybe cannelini beans and sundried tomatoes will be in the next batch of burgers??

Buen Provecho 🙂



3 thoughts on “The Best Way Out is Always Through {black bean burgers with cilantro-pepita pesto}

  1. Em, these look drop dead delicious ! And I’m sure they are helping to keep up the energy during these intense work times ! Can’t wait to try them myself 🙂 xx

  2. Pingback: A Week of Lasts {beet hummus} | Everything Emily Eats

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