Archive for the ‘Burgers’ Category

Serendipity ~ luck, or good fortune, in finding something good accidentally

For someone who likes to be creative and experimental, I am actually quite the control freak. That is, I don’t deal well with things that “don’t go as planned”. I pack for trips 3-4 days in advance; I factor in Plans B and C for my vacation itineraries; heck, I even write down notes before I type my blog posts!

So you can only imagine my chagrin when I came home from Trader Joe’s before the chocolate cookoff to discover that the 10 cans of whole pinto beans I meant to buy were actually refried pinto beans. What was I to do with mushy beans in a chili dish? I was also too lazy to make that trek back downtown to return the refried beans, so in my pantry they sat.

Then yesterday, I tuned in to an old episode of Top Chef and watched Lorraine Bracco make this amazing Panko-Crusted Portabella Bun, and thought: That’s IT! I’m going to make this with a Pinto Bean Burger! So there it was – my serendipitous revelation turned my useless cans of refried beans into a tasty, hearty meal!

Earthy, slightly sweet PINTO BEAN BURGER
paired with
sandwiched between
Two blissfully crispy & meaty PANKO PORTABELLA BUNS


  • 1 can (15oz) pinto refried beans
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, seasoned with herbs of your choice (salt & pepper, basil, parsley, etc)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
  • a couple cups flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • a couple cups of panko bread crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 3 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

Stumbling Upon Serendipity:

  1. Saute onions in a pan with some light butter until carmelized. Add in the chopped bell peppers and cook for another couple minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the refried beans, bread crumbs, 1 egg, chopped cilantro, and the onion/bell pepper mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
    *While burger mixture is chilling, make the mushroom buns:
  3. Thoroughly brush the portabella mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried basil.
  4. Dip the portabella mushrooms in this order until well covered: a) flour b) 2 eggs, beaten c) panko bread crumbs
  5. Stick the panko-crusted mushrooms into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes
    *Now make the avocado-tomato relish
  6. Combine the chopped tomatoes, avocado, and some cilantro. Squeeze in lime and add the agave nectar until desired sweet-sour balance is achieved
  7. Take the pinto bean burger mixture out of the refridgerator, form into golf-sized balls, dip them into flour, flatten them, and fry in a pan, flipping constantly until they are crispy and golden brown.
  8. Remove the portabella buns from the oven and assemble this delicious burger.


  • Don’t have pinto beans? Try using black beans for a more traditional black bean burger. Garbanzo beans would also work beautifully (almost like falafel burgers!)
  • Substitute the relish with your favorite salsa – maybe a pineapple salsa or maybe even marinara sauce!
  • If you’re not in the mood for citrus flavors, try some leafy steamed spinach or kale instead of the relish
  • I almost didn’t want to suggest this, because that panko-portabella is absolutely divine, but it can be more filling than the usual buns, so if you’re not looking for a filling meal, you can replace with 2 pieces of whole wheat toast, or 2 sesame buns.

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