Cucumber Curly-Cues (and Black Bean Burgers)

Did y’all know that cucumber plants sprout long green tendrils which they use to climb and sprawl for better sun exposure?

And did y’all know that if they don’t really have something to climb, like a trellis, because maybe the person who planted the things is learning this for the first time, they will curly-cue their way right around clusters of pine needles or, in a moment of the stunning unity of creation, grip on to each other as they seek to soak up sun rays like so many leathery humans?

As I’ve written about here, I (halfway) conquered the River Pebble Discovery of 2019 to plant a vegetable garden. Those who know me won’t be too surprised at my desire to grow my own vegetables because a) I love vegetables and b) I have been known to say about practically everything I’ve ever purchased, short of complex mechanical inventions like motor vehicles or cellular phone devices, I bet I could make that.

I was pretty proud of myself because I did some research and read up on different strategies for garden planting, and at the outset I adhered very strictly to the guideline to not plant too many things your first year. Otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed.

And then I went to the farmer’s market and impulse bought a bunch of cucumber plants because I like to make my own pickles. In my defense… it’s not really my fault that there were something like eight seedlings being sold together. It’s probably my fault I planted them all, but I am the same person who had to thin out sprouting kale earlier this year and felt guilty for… murdering kale.

I also felt guilty about not knowing about the cucumber curly-cue situation and so I fashioned undeniably the worst “trellis” of all time from dowels and ribbons I found in the basement.

Anyway, we’ve been veggie crazy over here. The only thing we’ve been able to harvest from our garden so far is spinach, but soon we should have some tomatoes, an abundance of cucumbers, kale, and peppers, and maaaaaybe broccoli? The rabbits have been particularly fond of the broccoli sprouts.

Speaking to the veggie craze is this recipe for black bean burgers. I followed a tip I found online about drying out the canned beans a little bit, which is supposed to help with texture. These held up well and didn’t crumble apart!

Black Bean Burgers
yields 4 – 5, depending on size

1 can black beansimg_20190621_174149_457-1
1 egg
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 – 2 jalapenos, finely diced (1 for a little jalapeno flavor, 2 for added spice)
1/3 cup finely diced bell pepper (I used about 5 of those mini sweet peppers, but any would work fine)
1/3 – 1/2 cup bread crumbs
olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drain black beans. I didn’t bother to rinse them and all that happened was getting my cookie sheet dirty, but you could certainly rinse them if desired.

Spread out black beans on cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil, and dry out for about 10 – 15 minutes in the oven. About halfway through, stir the beans to make sure none of them get really dry.

Meanwhile, chop veggies. You’ll want the onion and peppers in really small pieces. Big chunks of them will make it harder for the burgers to stick together. I chopped mine by hand, but a food processor would work as well.

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Once the garlic, onion, and peppers are prepped, saute them with a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes over medium heat. This will help develop the flavors and get rid of some excess moisture.

Once the beans have been dried out in the oven, transfer them into the bowl. Using a spatula or the back of the spoon, “mash” the beans. Leave some chunks for texture if desired. Once this mixture is somewhat smooth, mix in the spices, garlic, onion, and peppers.

To this add one egg. This will act as a binder for the burgers. If you’re vegan, you can certainly try an egg substitute, but as I haven’t worked with one I can’t say it’ll turn out exactly the same.

Now add in the bread crumbs. I would start conservatively, as you don’t want the burgers to be really dry. Add in whatever amount gets a good paste consistency that will allow you to shape burgers.

Optional: if the burger mixture is crumbly as you’re trying to shape them, you can try to add in some hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a small amount of ketchup, or a barbecue sauce to the bean mixture. My mixture was sticking together well, so I didn’t use anything extra, but it could also make a nice flavor addition.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Shape your burgers and cook them about 6-8 minutes per side. You want to cook them long enough to make sure the egg cooks.

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Serve with desired toppings and condiments! I smothered mine with hot sauce because spicier is always better.

Enjoy!