Smoky Barbecue Black Bean Burgers

Believe it or not, I was an extremely picky eater as a kid. The number of meals I would eat could be counted on one hand, while the number of meals I turned my nose up to could easily fill a small book. My poor food-loving parents, huh? They were always trying new recipes from their many cookbooks and magazines, and I had zero appreciation for how avant garde they actually were. Thankfully, my older brother was an adventurous eater who was able to validate my parents’ efforts to feed us healthily.

My top five least favourite dishes? Tofu pesto (yeah, that was a Moosewood cookbook classic), parathas (Indian sweet potato-stuffed flatbread), bulgur burgers, salmon burgers (the only way I would choke them down was with a thick layer of Cheez Whiz), and anything containing ground meat.

I never liked meat, but it wasn’t until around age 10 that I began to warm up to vegetables. I always loved my carbs, though! I think I must have been on the 80/10/10 diet before it was even a thing, ha!

These veggie burgers are, according to my trusty taste testers, my best yet. They are sturdy, flavourful, and have crispy exteriors, which are my top three veggie burger parameters. The smoky flavour comes from smoked paprika (my secret weapon for endowing that elusive meaty note to vegan cusine) and subtle sweetness from barbecue sauce. And they actually hold together, thanks to the inclusion of both ground walnuts and bread crumbs. I chose to serve them on buns with pickles, lettuce, tomato, and my homemade green goddess sauce that I originally created for my Vegan Meatball Pizza, only I subbed cilantro for the parsley to give it a southwestern flair.

I think you’re going to LOVE these burgers. They’re the perfect way to usher in a new season, and they’re so much fun to eat.

Black bean burgers with green goddess sauce.

Smoky Barbecue Black Bean Burgers

These hearty black bean burgers are spicy, smoky, and a bit sweet. They hold together perfectly and are accompanied by a tasty cilantro green goddess sauce. Enjoy them on buns or crumbled over greens with the green goddess sauce as a dressing! 
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dinner, Entree, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Servings: 10 large burgers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium sweet potatos, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade (see note)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (or 1 large can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste

For serving:

  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Green Goddess Sauce, made with cilantro instead of parsley (see note for recipe link)
  • Buns, collard or lettuce leaves, or pitas

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Cook the brown rice: In a small saucepan, combine the brown rice, water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 40-45 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed. 
  • Place the diced sweet potato on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F and leave it on to bake the burgers. 
  • Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and fragrant. Once cool enough to handle, finely chop and place them in a large bowl along with the breadcrumbs. 
  • Place the black beans into a food processor fitted with the ‘S’ blade. Pulse a few times until broken, but do not over-process. Add the beans to the large bowl. Then add the cooked sweet potato, brown rice, onion, garlic, barbecue sauce, spices, hot sauce, cilantro, and salt. Lightly mash the sweet potato and stir everything well to combine. Taste and add additional salt if desired. 
  • Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the mixture into 10 tennis ball-sized rounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers. Bake until the burgers are crispy on the outside but not burnt, about 35-40 minutes. 
  • Serve on buns, collard or lettuce leaves, or pitas with desired toppings. 

Notes

To make 1 cup of homemade bread crumbs: Cube 5 slices of desired bread (I like whole grain sourdough) into 1-inch cubes and toast in a 350 F oven for 7 minutes. Then place the toasted bread into a food processor fitted with the ‘S’ blade and blend until you have bread crumbs. 
Green Goddess Sauce recipe can be found here.

I’ve been feeling discombobulated this week, having just returned to work and a with big term paper due in seven days. I have a lot of negative feelings about university. I’ve never felt that my program is a good fit for me, and as whiny as it sounds, I can’t see a point in anything I’m learning. I still wish that I would have chosen to major in nutrition and dietetics, and I’m definitely not ruling that out. I guess I still have time to figure it out. But the one thing that always brings me joy is writing recipes and sharing them with the world. That’s where my heart is, and that’s what I’ll continue to do as I figure out everything else!

Thanks as always for reading my posts, and I will be back here again on Saturday with my standard weekend beverage post.

Did you make this recipe? Let’s see it! Post a photo on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!

Berbere-Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema

Happy spring! We made it through another winter, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some lentil tacos that fuse east African and Mexican cuisines.

Before we get into discussions of food, though, let’s chat briefly about setting some intentions. I prefer to set my ‘new year’s resolutions,’ at the beginning of spring. It just feels more natural to hit the reset button when the earth is, quite literally, springing back to life, than it does during the darkest time of the year at the beginning of January.

Here are some of my goals for the next 12 months:

1) Graduate from university (for once and for all).
2) Continue working towards my dream of living and working on an organic farmstead/owning a tiny home/working as a chef at retreats.
3) Grow this website into a community of friends who simply love wholesome, vegan food and living a healthy life.
4) Run a sub-3:20 marathon in the fall.
5) Practice gratitude every day.
6) Live in the present moment and get out of the habit of overthinking.

I used to be excellent at setting goals, but poor at following through with them. For the past couple of years, I have fallen out of the habit of setting lofty goals or even writing to-do lists, because I would overthink them and inevitably come up short. But that, I’ve come to realize, isn’t the best approach, either: I thrive on working towards a goal. This year, my focus is on incremental progress every day rather than perfection. I’m also going in with the mindset that none of my goals are set in stone. They may evolve as the year progresses, and I’m okay with adapting them as necessary.

Now, on to the food. I created this recipe the week before the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, and the tragic coincidence was not lost on me that we had just finished eating these Ethiopian-inspired tacos the day before the plane crash. Out of sensitivity to the victims and the country itself, I held off on publishing the recipe in the week following. I just wanted to mention this, as I do not take the tragedy lightly, and my heart aches for all those who were affected.

This recipe evolved out of my attempt to recreate my friend Victoria‘s favourite dish: injera. Injera is an Ethiopian sour flatbread made with teff flour. Victoria loves Ethiopian food, and has scoped out almost every restaurant in the city to find the best injera. Well, let me just say that I’m going to have to leave injera to the pros: my first attempt fermented beautifully, and I was so excited to cook them. But the moment the batter hit the hot cast iron skillet, it adhered to it, and my hopes of removing it from the pan in one piece were dashed.

Fear not, though! I’m consciously trying to see every lemon life hands me as an opportunity to make lemonade. 😉 I already had a concept for my injera accompaniments, and I also had a pretty mean taco craving.

And that’s how Berbere-Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema were born!

These tacos are in “OMG you must make them now” territory. They contain the following components:

fragrant, perfectly spiced Berbere-spiced lentils;

crunchy purple cabbage slaw;

melt-in-your mouth roasted sweet potato;

sour-sweet pickled onions;

and a cool and tangy cilantro lime crema…

all wrapped up in either corn or flour tortillas.

The Berbere lentils are a staple dish that can serve many purposes outside of tacos. Try them in a grains/greens/beans bowl with the cilantro lime crema as a sauce if you’re looking to change things up. They’re actually crave-worthy. Yup, I just referred to lentils as crave-worthy. You’re welcome. But seriously, I urge you to make them, because the flavours just work so well together. And the fragrant spice blend will make your kitchen smell divine!

Hungry yet? Same.

Berbere-Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema

Your taste buds will do a happy dance for these Berbere-spiced lentil tacos with roasted sweet potato, cabbage slaw, pickled onions, and a cool and tangy cilantro lime crema! 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Ethiopian, Mexican, Vegan
Servings: 6 people, 2 tacos per person
Author: Allison

Ingredients

For the Berbere-Spiced Lentils:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or refined coconut oil
  • 2 medium red or yellow onions, finely diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar or pure maple syrup (helps round out flavours; don’t skip!)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked green lentils (from 1 1/2 cups dry green lentils) OR 2 15-oz cans lentils, rinsed and drained

For the roasted sweet potatoes:

  • 4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Simple Cabbage Slaw

  • 3 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

For the Cilantro-Lime Crema:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in hot water for at least 45 minutes or cold water for 4 hours
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

For the Quick-Pickled Onions:

  • 1 large or 2 small red onions
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

For assembling:

  • 12 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
  • Hot sauce of choice

Instructions

  • Prepare the lentils: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add celery. Meanwhile, whisk together tomato paste, vegetable broth, and sugar or maple syrup in a bowl. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the spices, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato paste mixture to the skillet, followed by the spice mixture. Add lentils and stir to combine. Then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until some of the liquid has absorbed/evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside until ready to use. This will allow the flavours to meld. 
  • Prepare the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the diced sweet potatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Roast for 25-35 minutes, or until fork-tender and crispy around the edges. 
  • While the sweet potatoes are roasting, you will have time to prepare the remaining components. To make the cabbage slaw, toss together cabbage, oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use. 
  • Make the Cilantro-Lime Crema: Blend cashews, cilantro, lime juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and water in a blender until smooth and a thick, sour cream-like consistency is achieved. If it seems too thick, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time. 
  • Make the Quick Pickled Onions: Peel and thinly slice the onions. Place them in a 16-oz/500 mL glass jar. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, water, maple syrup, salt, and red pepper flakes over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour over top of the onions in the jar. Make sure that the liquid is covering all of the onions. Secure a lid on the jar and set aside to pickle for at least 10 minutes, preferably longer (the onions will soften and their sharpness will mellow the longer you allow them to pickle). Make ahead: Onions will keep in the fridge for at least a week. 
  • Warm up the tortillas in a covered dish in a 300 degree F oven for 5 minutes prior to eating, if desired. 
  • To assemble a taco, spoon desired amount of lentils, followed by sweet potato, cabbage slaw, pickled onions, and cilantro-lime crema onto a tortilla. Repeat as desired. 

Notes

Click here for some wine pairings for Ethiopian food. As far as beer goes, I would recommend a Saison or an IPA from your favourite craft brewery. 

If you make these tacos, take a photo and post it on Instagram with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!

Pulled Sweet Potato Tacos with Green Hemp Cream and Kale

Ready for a meal that’ll satisfy your comfort food needs in the depths of winter? These Pulled Sweet Potato Tacos with Green Hemp Cream and Kale seriously do the trick! A couple of these tacos and a few episodes of The Office (or your favourite feel-good TV show) spells out bliss on a chilly night. I’m happy to announce that I am emerging from a slump that began over the holidays. Something about the frenzy of it all- and we don’t even go all-out at Christmas- put the brakes on my creative flow. Now that routine is once again present, I can feel my energy increasing and the inspiration to come up with new recipes and improve this space has returned.

Speaking of inspiration, the idea for this recipe came from a pulled sweet potato sandwich that I recently enjoyed at Pure Kitchen. While I’ve seen many recipes utilizing jackfruit for that ‘pulled meat’ effect, I’ve never tried making it myself, and we all know how obsessed I am with sweet potato (I feel like it’s more readily available in stores, too). Also, I’m definitely more of a taco gal than a sandwich gal, so I took the concept of pulled sweet potato, added lots of smoky and spicy barbecue flavours, whizzed up a cooling hemp-cilantro sauce with lime to provide flavour contrast, and even added a quick shredded kale slaw for your health! The flavours here are definitely southwestern, which is one of my favourite cuisines, especially when it’s so chilly outside!

I hope that 2019 has been treating you well so far. I’ve slowly been getting back into the running groove and am currently trying to decide between running a full marathon or a couple of half marathons in May. I’ve also been enjoying lots of yoga, HIIT, walking, and overall just embracing good people and good energy. School has started back up again, too, and although I’m not stoked about what I’m studying, I’m definitely enjoying the change of pace and am finding a lot more free time in my days to hit the pause button and relax- something I haven’t always been good at, but am always working on!

Pulled Sweet Potato Tacos with Green Hemp Cream and Kale

These southwestern-inspired tacos will transport you from the depths of winter to warmer and sunnier climes! Sweet and spicy ‘pulled’ sweet potato stands in for pulled meat, while a cool and tangy cilantro hemp sauce brightens and cools the palate. A simple kale salad brings it all together and provides an extra boost of green nutrition! 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Quick dinner, Tacos, Vegan Tacos
Author: Allison

Ingredients

Pulled Sweet Potato

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 6 cups packed shredded sweet potato (from about 2 large sweet potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (preferably an organic vegan one)
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s original)

Green Hemp Cream

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1-2 tbsp water, to thin, as needed

Simple Shredded Kale

  • 1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat or sheep feta (optional)

Everything Else

  • 8-12 6-inch wheat or corn tortillas of choice (I used sprouted wheat)
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced
  • hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add onion and garlic. Add salt and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. 
  • Add sweet potato. Cook for five minutes, stirring often to prevent sweet potato from sticking to the pan. Add barbecue sauce and hot sauce. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until sweet potato has softened but still retains some crunch. Turn off stove and cover until ready to eat. 
  • Next, prepare the Green Hemp Cream by adding all ingredients into an upright blender and blending until smooth. You want the consistency of a creamy ranch dressing, so add water as needed until proper texture is achieved. 
  • Place the kale in a large bowl. Massage the olive oil into it until soft and bright green. Add lime juice and salt and massage again. Add feta, if using. 
  • Warm up tortillas on the stovetop or in a covered dish in a 300 F oven for 5 minutes right before serving. 
  • To serve, place desired amount of sweet potato, kale, and avocado on a tortilla and drizzle with cilantro cream and hot sauce.