The Black Bean + Corn + Farro Vegetarian Burger

Black Bean, Corn, Farro Vegetarian Burger | 3 Ingredients / 3 Ways | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang

Part of our “3 Ingredients / 3 Ways” Series, featuring: BLACK BEANS + CORN + FARRO

I am a carnivore, and I love a juicy, meaty burger, but I get just as excited to sink my teeth into its vegetarian cousin. They’re related but definitely exhibit very different characteristics. You can’t really expect a vegetarian burger to taste like the classic beef version. It’s not supposed to. Instead every veggie burger becomes a surprise in texture, ingredients, and taste. While I know beef will still be king on the grill as summer arrives, I constantly get requests for veggie burger ideas from my clients looking for healthier alternatives. While I’ve got a variety of options, one of my favorites features a trio of ingredients that are often cast together in my kitchen – BLACK BEANS + CORN + FARRO (check out other ways to combine these ingredients in our “3 Ingredients / 3 Ways” feature). The farro and beans bind together giving this patty a meaty, satisfying bite, and the corn lends just the right amount of sweetness and texture. Married with a blend of seasonings (which of course can always be customized to your liking) and the right condiments, you’ve got yourself a whole new family member to add to your burger family.

The Black Bean + Corn + Farro Vegetarian Burger
Author: Jess Dang
Serves: 4
  • 1 14 oz. can of black beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of cooked semi-pearled farro (= 1/3 cup of non-cooked farro grain)
  • 1 cup of frozen corn (Trader Joe’s makes a great smoked version)
  • 2 tbs. of tomato paste (the tube version is great because it keeps so much longer)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 bunch of green onions / scallions
  • 4 buns (I’ve used whole wheat crumpets for variety)
  • Optional condiments: a few tablespoons of creme fraiche and about 2 cups of thinly sliced green cabbage with 1/2 tbs. olive oil
  1. Farro: If you haven’t already cooked the farro, prepare it like you would pasta. Farro absorbs a lot of water so use a 1:6 farro to water ratio (e.g., 1/3 cup of farro = 2 cups of water required). Bring water to a boil, salt heavily, add farro, and boil uncovered for about 25 minutes or until al dente (tender but with a bite). Drain
  2. Green onions / scallions: Chop both green and white parts into thin segments
  3. Cabbage: If you want to use this as a condiment, chop about 1/4 of a green cabbage into thin segments
  4. All of this can be prepped ahead of time and kept in airtight containers / bags for up to 4 days
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine black beans and eggs. Mash with a fork
  3. Add farro, frozen corn, tomato paste, kosher salt, and paprika and mix thoroughly. Let flavors sit and marinate (this can also be prepared ahead of time and stored for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container)
  4. In the meantime, heat a medium-sized frying or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tbs. of oil. When oil is warm (you can tell if it’s hot enough by tipping the pan. If you see striations and “legs”, like in a wine, it’s good to go) add chopped scallions, plus a dash of salt. Saute for about 1 minute and then add to your black bean + corn + farro mixture [img src=”×432.jpg” width=”650″ height=”432″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120523-FarroBeanCornBurger-03″ alt=”Black Bean, Corn, Farro Vegetarian Burger | 3 Ingredients / 3 Ways | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  5. Form mixture into 4 round balls. If you find that it’s a bit sticky, wet your hands first which will keep the mixture from sticking too much to your hands
  6. Next heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is warm, transfer the balls over to the skillet and gently press down with a spatula or a wooden spoon to form patties. Sear on both sides for about 2 to 3 minutes [img src=”×430.jpg” width=”650″ height=”430″ class=”aligncenter size-large” title=”20120523-FarroBeanCornBurger-02″ alt=”Black Bean, Corn, Farro Vegetarian Burger | 3 Ingredients / 3 Ways | Cook Smarts by Jess Dang”]
  7. Transfer the skillet into heated oven and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While patties are baking, you can prepare the buns and cabbage if you’re planning on using cabbage as a topping. The buns can be toasted in a toaster oven or thrown into the oven with the patties for 10 minutes. For the cabbage, you can use the same pan as you used for the scallions. Return the pan to medium-high heat, adding another 1/2 tbs. of oil to warmed pan. Add cabbage and saute with a dash of salt for about 3 to 4 minutes, until cabbage has wilted but still has some crunch
  9. When the patties are done, assemble burgers by adding a dollop of creme fraiche and sauted cabbage to patty and nestling between your toasted buns
Serve / Substitutes / Supplements [br][b]Spice it up:[/b] Add 1 tbs. of adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers or a 1 tsp. of cayenne or instead of creme fraiche combine adobo sauce with mayo/veganaise to make a spicy aioli [br][b]Double the fun:[/b] Double the ingredients and form half into patties and freeze in an airtight container with patties separated by parchment paper (that way they won’t stick to each other when you go to use them) [br][b]Leftover herbs:[/b] Are there leftover herbs in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with – cilantro, parsley, basil? Chop them up and throw them in

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  • Darya

    Thank you for great ideas! I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it. This looks like a great recipe. I’m not big for veggie burgers, but these patties would probably be good with some salad on the side, too.

  • @Darya Thanks so much for your comment. Let me know how it turns out for you. I do think the patties would be great with a salad on the side!

  • leemore

    hi! made this recipe last night with my mom, who’s an awesome cook & it was a struggle for us… the patties wouldn’t stick together and solidify. in your picture, it looks so perfectly formed… what’s your secret? we’d love to know.

    leemore & caryl

  • @leemore So whenever I’m making meatballs, patties, or anything that needs to be smushed together and stay together, the key is either gauging if the mixture is too wet or too dry. It sounds like in this case it was too dry, so I would have put more egg in to keep it together. If it was too wet and you couldn’t work with it, I would have put more farro in. For meatballs, more breadcrumbs or even something like quinoa work well. I’m so sorry this recipe was a struggle for you and your mom. Was the taste at least OK?

  • leemore

    hi jess – thanks so much for your sweet response. that’s a good tip! it tasted good, yeah, i adore all the main ingredients which is what attracted me to it… we’ll have to give it another shot. oh and a tip i’ll offer up! we put them on trader joe’s half baked idea rolls… which you finish baking at home… delish!!! and perfect for any burger!

  • @leemore I love those buns too! Warm rolls out of the oven are the best.

  • Jessica

    Just made this and was disappointed. Mixture was waaaay to wet and far too heavy on the tomato paste. I even added flour to try to get them to stick together. They completely fell apart when I went to flip them. Also… The directions are confusing. The instructions say to sauté the onions but the pictures show them mixed in. Them there are instructions about adding the remaining oil with no reference to using previous oil. Would not make these again unfortunately…..

  • Hi Jessica, We’re so sorry to hear that these burgers were such a bust. We’ll definitely look into updating the recipe to make it less confusing. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Mia S

    I agree with the comment above. Am I supposed to saute the black bean + corn + farro mixture with the scallions (step #4). Then, take it off the heat and form the mixture into patties? And then saute again but in patty form in step #6?

  • Hi Mia, in step #4, it says to just saute the scallions and then add them to the black bean, corn, and farro mixture. Then form into patties and sear in a skillet. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

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