Crispy Black Bean Cakes

So, I recently moved to the UWS.

I love the neighborhood. Really enjoy the apartment. Have a couple of super cool roommates.

So I’m really thrilled.

However…moving is…how to put it?

Dante’s 7th circle of hell.

It’s weeks of boxes. It’s movers losing important things. It’s waiting for the cable to get installed and finding out that your internet router is broken and shelling out so much cash that that you fear that you may be eating ramen for a year to make up for it

In the midst of all this, you also have to eat dinner.

This recipe is really simple, inexpensive, and is super satisfying.

Plus, you can eat it cold for breakfast topped with a fried egg.


Crispy Black Bean Cakes

2013-06-22 pix Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 zucchini, chopped

3 carrots (about 1/3 cup) grated or chopped

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably panko)

2 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup salsa

1 serrano, diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped

1 tbsp. each cumin, coriander, and oregano

vegetable oil in which to fry

Guacamole, hot sauce, and sour cream to serve (optional)

pix 016 1. Put about a tablespoon of oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to ripple, toss in the carrots, zucchini, garlic, and scallions. Cook them for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to smell tantalizing but is not at ALL browned.

pix 017 2. Turn down the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and walk away. You want it to cook for about 15-20 minutes, gently steaming to get soft while getting some nice caramelization on the bottom.
pix 018 See? That’s nice!

pix 024 3. Now, add the spices, cilantro, and salsa. I love a very finely pureed salsa here, but chunky would also be great.

pix 026 4. Add the black beans. Do NOT, as I did, neglect to drain them.

I was stuck in a cardboard box prison. It was temporary insanity up here.

pix 034 5. Now, turn off the heat, and mash those beans. You don’t need them totally mashed, but the veggies should all be pretty soft and you really want a pasty consistency.

pix 037  Yes, I know it’s ugly, but it’s gonna taste delish.

pix 038 6. Turn off the heat, remove the bean mixture from the pan, put it in a large bowl, and add the breadcrumbs.

pix 039 7. Add the cheese and mix thoroughly.

pix 040 8. Wipe out the pan you just used to remove any burnt bits, add another tablespoon of oil, and fry a small sample patty. My friend Hungry told me to do this with dumpling filling to taste for seasoning and I now ALWAYS do it. This way you can add more salt, pepper, or whatever else you might need.

pix 041 9. Once the seasonings are right, make palm sized patties, on the thinner side (1/4 inch), and cook them for about 2 minutes per side, until the outside is crispy and charred in spots. The stuff is already all cooked, you just want it to be warmed through totally.

pix 045 11. Top with your desired accoutrements, then serve.

These black bean cakes are so awesome. Sweet with zucchini, smoky with cumin, and a nice bite from the diced serrano. They have a wonderful, soft texture that is surrounded by crispy edges – it’s like the world’s best Thanksgiving stuffing. I like this atop a simple iceberg salad and always enjoy it with Greek yogurt and avocado. A little spritz of lime brightens things up, too. This is great to make when you need something super satisfying, pretty cheap, and easy to prepare.

pix 047 After all, there are still boxes to unpack.


  1. Ttrockwood says:

    Moving sucks. But now you’re closer to zabar’s, grom, and bouchon bakery 🙂 this recipe sounds awesome and easy enough- love that it’s vegetarian!