Mexican Black Bean Burgers with Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa

I mentioned yesterday that I was afraid to try Boca Burgers.  When I think of Boca Burgers, or frozen veggie burgers in general, here is what I imagine.  Start with a bunch of vegetables, especially carrots, add a few grains or breadcrumbs, then puree until it’s essentially baby food.  Finally, pour it into a puck-shaped mold, freeze, and enjoy.  This is why they seem gross to me, accurate or not.

[Burger photo]This recipe, on the other hand, involves vegetables in a food processor, but you don’t turn it into baby food.  The recipe specifically says not to overprocess, to leave it chunky.  And no carrots.  (UPDATE: Though the burger recipe is still available on, the tomatillo and avocado salsa requires a membership or free trial to access.)

We made this meal at my dad’s house for him and his wife.  One unforeseen benefit of this was that we had a few extra hands to take pictures while we cooked.  Which was good, because this meal involved enough chopping that my wife and I both had to do it if we wanted to eat at any kind of reasonable hour.  If you decide to try this recipe, either give yourself lots of time or recruit some help.  Also, you need to refrigerate the patties for at least half an hour before you cook them, so making them ahead is a good idea.  Of course, we discovered this step at about 7:45, when everybody was already starving, so that was nice.

[Veggies photo]Take a look at all the vegetables in this meal!  And not just standard vegetables.  Things like tomatillos, poblano pepper, serrano pepper, scallions, garlic, cilantro, and avocado (though I guess avocado’s a fruit, and come to think of it, tomatillos probably are too).  I mean, this is more vegetables than a lot of people get in an entire week!  Even if you’re not ready to give up meat, at least consider making one or two of these meals a week.  Think of the variety it would add to your diet.

Tomatillos, by the way, look like small green tomatoes in husks, but their taste is much more tart (tarter?).  Poblano peppers are a lot like green bell peppers, but a little hotter.  They aren’t uncommon, but you can substitute if you can’t find them.  Serranos are hot chiles and harder to find; we used a jalapeno instead.  Maybe this is common sense, but if you haven’t cooked with serranos or jalapenos, make sure you wash your hands a few times after handling them.  Capsaicin burns are no fun.

We substituted pinto beans for the black beans.  My wife is reading a book called Eat Right 4 Your Type, which says that pinto beans are much better for her blood type than black beans, and since we made smoky black bean burritos a few days ago, we decided to switch it up.  One final thing to note is that the recipe calls for an egg.  We’ve decided that eggs have no place in our diet, so we had to find something else to bind the burgers together.  There’s a list of possible binding substitutes here; we used about a quarter cup of unsweetened soy milk and it worked fine.

[Knife Photo]Everyone was pretty happy with how this meal turned out.  The salsa really added a Latin dimension to the burgers.  We ate the burgers on whole-wheat buns; the recipe doesn’t mention buns at all.  The patties were kind of soft, so maybe refrigerating them longer would help with that.  Using smaller patties might help too.  We doubled the recipe because all the reviewers recommended doing so, but instead of making eight small patties, we made four huge ones.

The four of us voted to give Mexican Black Bean Burgers 4 vacas out of 5.  Maybe a tad high for me, but that’s democracy.

Congratulations on making it to another Friday, and thanks again for reading my blog.  A few people have told me that I’ve inspired them to eat healthier meals, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.  I’ll continue to post throughout the weekend for you die-hards out there, so keep checking back.  For the rest of you, I’ll see you Monday; same time, same place.



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  1. I’m pretty much a carnivore with the desire to eat more veggies and a little less fatty meat. So with that bias in mind I voted these “burgers” a solid 4 out of 5. I did add lettuce and a Vidalia onion slice to mine. Had tomatoes been in season, a slice of that would have been on top also. I’m also a mayonnaise lover but with this avocado salsa, I wasn’t even tempted. And thanks Matt & Erin for cooking and cleaning!

  2. margaret says:

    I’ve tried just about every veggie burger on the market and never had one that I found truly flavorful and satisfying. This burger was far superior to the frozen patties in the grocery store. It was great with the pinto beans but since I’m a black bean fan I’d like to have this burger again using black beans (hint, hint). I loved the avocado salsa and think it would be good in lots of other dishes. In fact it was so good I had a spoonful (when everyone else had their backs turned).

  3. Christine says:

    Yum these look great! I planted some Serrano Chile seeds a couple weeks ago and already have more than I can handle. I’ll pass some seedlings your way if you want them!

    I have a burger recipe request- I had a frozen boxed one once that tasted like pizza. It was somehow basil-tomato-based. If you ever stumble on a recipe like that, please share!

  4. Marcela says:

    Love this recipe! I can’t wait to try it out. About that book of eating according to your blood type, I read a little bit of what each blood type should eat and exercise. I can’t help to feel puzzled about it so I am asking you, Has your wife noticed any change? According to eat right for your type, Type O needs to eat meat, and honestly since I stopped eating meat and dairy(it has been 2 months already), I have never felt this great! I feel more energeric; my cycling performance is definely better.

  5. Congratulations. You’ve invented falafel.

  6. I want! This looks deeelicious.

  7. Christopher Bellacose says:

    This looks like a great recipe! I would suggest making more and freezing them for meals at a later time.


  8. Can’t wait to try this! FYI, if you’re like me and don’t want to give payment info just to get a recipe, here’s another salsa: .

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