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4th of July Southwest Black Bean and Corn Mini Burgers

Celebrate America!
Celebrate America!
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Did you know that you can get all the protein you need on a totally meat-free diet? Think about some of the biggest animals out there — elephants and gorillas, for example. They are plant-eaters, but they have no problem getting all of the protein needed to grow big and muscular. The USDA agrees that “protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods.” Sources of protein include beans and nuts, whole grains, dark leafy greens, and meat-free meats made of soy and wheat.

Southwest Black Bean and Corn Mini Burger

Today's recipe, Southwest Black Bean and Corn Mini Burgers, is the last recipe in a series of three that celebrates all that is good and yummy in a meatless burger. This recipe comes from Spork Foods, a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles at Spork Foods ( and online vegan cooking classes at

Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, is currently in stores, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

Southwest Black Bean and Corn Mini Burgers
*with a Smoky Paprika Cashew Cheese (Optional)
Provided by


1 tablespoon neutral tasting high-heat oil, plus 2 tablespoons

1⁄2 large onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1⁄2 cup corn, fresh or frozen

1⁄2 large red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped

Dash sea salt, plus 1⁄2 teaspoon

1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed

1⁄4 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons agave nectar

3⁄4 cup rolled oats

1 cup bread crumbs or 2 slices spelt bread

Whole grain mini burger buns

Ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, tomato and lettuce (optional)

*Cashew Cheese Ingredients (gluten-free)
3⁄4 cup cashews

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons neutral tasting oil

1⁄4 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped

For the cashew cheese: In a large food processor or high-powered blender, pulse cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, agave, paprika, oil, almond or soy milk and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and uniform, scraping down sides of machine as needed. Fold in thyme once mixture is creamy.


Preheat large (6-quart) pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add corn, bell pepper, dash of sea salt and black pepper. Cook until mixture is slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes, and set aside.

In a food processor, combine black beans, chipotle powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and agave. Pulse together 5-8 times. Add oats and bread crumbs or spelt bread. Pulse until uniform, scraping down sides to further incorporate into food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add cooked onion and pepper mixture to bowl and fold into veggie burger mixture.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add remaining oil. With damp hands, form burgers into patties and place in heated pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Serve on a toasted mini bun with cashew cheese, if using and desired toppings!

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