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Recipe: Bean cakes you can depend on

  • NEW YORK TIMES
                                Crispy bean cakes with scallions and herbs. These spicy vegetarian patties come together in about 45 minutes using practically any kind of cooked bean.

    NEW YORK TIMES

    Crispy bean cakes with scallions and herbs. These spicy vegetarian patties come together in about 45 minutes using practically any kind of cooked bean.

When the pandemic first hit this spring, some of us found ourselves buying and eating a lot of beans, and for good reason. Canned or dried, beans are inexpensive, they keep well and one bag of dried beans makes many meals, which meant fewer nerve-wracking trips to the grocery store.

If you stockpiled a little too hastily back in March, this recipe will help you work through those unused beans in your cabinet. It’s an easy vegetarian bean cake made with a blend of herbs, chile paste and mashed cooked beans, which are shaped into disks, then seared in a skillet until crisp. It needs no special equipment, and you can stroll into most markets from Coney Island to Cairo and find nearly every ingredient.

Harissa, which is folded in to the mixture to add a hint of smoke and pepper, is the one ingredient that may not be so easy to find everywhere, but gochujang, sofrito, red zhug, red curry, ancho paste or any thick chile paste that adds a dash of heat will work just as well.

Almost any comparably textured cooked beans will do — red, black, navy or cannellini. There are heirloom options to play with if they’re accessible to you: Jacob’s Cattle beans are easy to find in Maine, yellow-eyed beans in Vermont, Scarlet Runner and Christmas limas across the Southwest and Amish nuttle beans in Pennsylvania. (In Honolulu, heritage beans from Rancho Gordon in California are sold at Kokua Market.)

These crispy patties, which take about 45 minutes to prepare, are stellar topped with a fried egg for breakfast, alongside dressed greens for a light lunch or served on top of rice pilaf for dinner. It is a delicious, simple and adaptable recipe you can rely on as many of us juggle the shifting realities of work, school and play in an effort to find our “new normal.”

CRISPY BEAN CAKES WITH LEMON AND HERBS

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans beans, such as chickpeas, pinto, kidney or black beans, drained (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon harissa or other chile paste, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon (cut lemon into wedges for serving)
  • 1 egg white
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)

Place drained beans in large bowl and crush using a fork or your fingers until coarsely mashed. Add cilantro, dill, scallions, cornstarch, harissa, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Add lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Alternatively, you can incorporate ingredients using a food processor and pulse to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk egg white until foamy and fold it into the bean mixture. Cover mixture and refrigerate to chill slightly, at least 15 minutes.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop portions of bean mixture into oil. Using flat surface of the cup, press each scooped portion to tightly pack and shape it into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Cook until bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn using a wide spatula, and brown the other side, about 2 minutes.

Remove cooked cakes from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels or on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Repeat until all the bean mixture is used, adding remaining oil and removing any loose bits from skillet as necessary. Return bowl to refrigerator in between batches to keep mixture chilled.

Serve crispy cakes with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing. Garnish with dollops of yogurt, if using, additional fresh herbs and harissa for dipping. Makes 10 bean cakes, about 4 servings.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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