Posted by: Hil | January 30, 2010

Black Bean Cheeseburger with Succotash


It’s not all that hard to cut back on grocery spending, but I find it a challenge to 1) get enough protein and 2) avoid boredom when eating frugally.  The best cheap source of protein is definitely beans and other legumes, but it’s easy to get bored eating beans and rice every day.  This lunch was an attempt to shake my boredom by introducing a variety of colors and textures into a legume based meal.

The black bean burgers were a twist on my beloved black eyed pea cakes.  The method is basically the same:  mash up a serving of black eyed peas with your hands or a fork, add a squirt of tomato paste and a little bit of minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, then add enough whole wheat flour to make the mixture stick together.  Form into a burger shape, then dust with a bit more flour.  Cook with in a pan with oil, butter or both.  Pressing the patty down a bit with your spatula makes for the best browning.  When one side is brown, flip and top with some sharp cheddar.  Cheddar cheese is pretty easy to find on sale and adds a great boost of flavor and fun to a dish like this.  Cook the burger until the second side is brown, the filling is hot, and the cheese is melted.  Serve with lots of hot sauce.

The succotash was made entirely from pantry and freezer staples:  onion, canned corn, frozen lima beans and roasted red bell peppers from a jar.   I softened the onion in a little oil, then added the rest of the veggies, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with a sliver of butter for extra flavor.  It was light, colorful and crunchy like a salad, but was warm and comforting enough for a winter meal.  It was a great accompaniment to my burger.

I love succotash now, but it was one of the few foods I disliked as a child, due to a traumatic childhood experience.  I remember eating dinner one night–no memory of what I was eating–and noticed that Blueberry Mom was eating something different from me and my sister.  “What is that?”  I asked.   “Succotash and white rice,” my mom replied.   “Why are you eating that instead of what we are eating?” I wanted to know.  Blueberry Mom, who was still stuck in the low fat mode of thinking, explained that while little girls needed fat to grow up strong, it was healthiest for adults to eat almost no fat. 

I pondered this and decided that I wanted to be initiated into the mysteries of grownup eating and requested a bowl of succotash and rice for myself.  Blueberry Mom was surprised, but obliged.  I took one bite and decided that succotash was the most bland and yucky thing I had ever tasted.  I did not say anything to my mother, but I quietly mourned that one day I would grow up and would have to eat yucky tasting food forever in order to be healthy.  I was so sad!  Luckily, the low fat craze seems to be passing and I have discovered that I actually love succotash, especially when made with a bit of oil and butter!



  1. The black bean cheeseburger sounds great! I’ve had succotash before but didn’t know that was what it’s called. You’re right- when it has good flavourings, it can be very tasty indeed.

  2. Um, in my own defense, this was (St.) Laurie Colwin’s recipe. Flavored with ginger and garlic. It even has olive oil in it. πŸ˜€

  3. My tastes have probably developed somewhat since then. πŸ™‚

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