Happy Labor Day! Okay, I’m a few days late, but believe me, making these burgers was a labor (get it?) of love. I had a craving for a burger that would combine sweet potatoes, black beans, and West African seasonings, and I wouldn’t rest until I got it right. So I used my Labor Day weekend to make them three times until I finally hit on the combination of ingredients that got me sweet potato burgers that were rich with the aromatic flavors of cumin and ginger and moist but not mushy.
Making 3 dozen burgers could be a pain, but I have a little secret to making them uniformly round without getting my hands too dirty: I use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to scoop up the burger mix and then use the bottom of the cup to press it into a stainless steel form. I know, I could buy a burger press, but the steel ring is less expensive, easier to clean, and doubles as a cuff bracelet when I’m feeling all Wonder Woman-y.
Fortunately, my whole family, including “She Who Prefers Burgers Named Boca,” loved these burgers. They’re a little softer than other veggie burgers, so they wouldn’t work well on the grill (though you could reheat them there), but the flavor is just incredible. I served them on buns with most of the traditional burger condiments–ketchup and my homemade mayo–but I left off the mustard because I wanted to be able to taste the burger’s seasonings. They’re also delicious without the bun, with a little chipotle mayo or sriracha ketchup.
And they freeze well–in case you’re planning to make as many as I did!
African-Inspired Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
Grains of paradise are the seeds of a plant that grows in the swamps along the West African coast. They impart a complex peppery flavor with hints of cardamom and citrus. If you don’t happen to have them, use freshly ground black pepper and a little cardamom, as noted in the ingredients list.
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 medium sized potatoes)
- 1 1/2 cups black beans or 1 15-ounce can, rinsed until water runs clear and drained (divided)
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon minced ginger root (or 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon grains of paradise, crushed, or ground black pepper plus 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt (if desired)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1/2 large green pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick or regular oats, uncooked)
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (or a gluten-free flour blend)
- Cook the sweet potatoes until tender. You may microwave them, but for best flavor, pierce them several times with a fork and bake at 425 F until they are tender but still firm, 30-50 minutes depending on size of the potatoes. Allow to cool until you can easily peel them. (You can prepare the potatoes in advance; just bring them to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)
- Place the sweet potatoes into a food processor. Add HALF of the drained black beans, along with the peanut butter, garlic, and all the spices. Process briefly until everything is combined and the potatoes are mashed. (You can also do this in a bowl with a potato masher and lots of wrist action.)
- Scoop the potato mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining black beans, onions, green pepper, and oats. Stir well to combine. Add the gluten or other flour and stir well to make sure that it’s distributed evenly. The mixture should be very thick and not too wet; if it seems wet, add a little more oats or gluten to get a very heavy “dough.” Set aside while you preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. (You may also oil a non-stick baking sheet.)
- Form the mixture into 10-12 burgers, using 1/3-1/2 cup per burger. Burgers should be no more than 3/4-inch thick. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until outside is firm and brown but center is still a little soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before removing from baking sheet and serving.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 10
Nutrition (per serving, with peanut butter): 152 calories, 21 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 285.2mg sodium, 388.1mg potassium, 26.2g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 7.4g protein. (Without peanut butter, contains 131 calories and .7g fat.)
This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I actually use. When you buy something through them, I receive a commission that helps support this site. Thanks for your purchase!