Kitchen MacGyver: Mexi-Cali Black Bean Cakes

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about healthful and frugal finds at any grocery store, I thought it would be helpful to provide a recipe where the bulk of the main ingredients appear on the Top Five Cheap and Nutritious Whole Foods list. These black bean cakes provide a well-balanced blend of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and the list continues; top them with guacamole or roasted poblano peppers and serve with a big salad.

Mexi-Cali Black Bean Cakes  

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil*

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 seeded jalapeno, minced (if desired)

1 2/3 cups cooked black beans (rinse, soak and follow cooking instructions on bag)

1 cup cornmeal

1 egg white

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried cumin

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (you can substitute 1 teaspoon dried cilantro here)

zest and juice of 2 limes

4 dashes Tapatio or other hot sauce, if desired

2 scallions, finely chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm up 1 teaspoon canola oil. When it begins to ripple slightly, add diced onions, garlic and jalapeno (if using). Saute for about five minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Dump beans into a large bowl and smash with the back of a fork until all of the beans are mushy. Add cooled onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture, 1/2 cup of cornmeal, egg white, salt, cumin, cilantro, lime zest and juice, hot sauce and scallions. Mix together gently with fork.

Scatter remaining 1/2 cup of cornmeal into a casserole dish or onto a large plate. Form the black bean mixture into disks roughly about the same size (they should all be slightly smaller than the palm of your hand) and dust with cornmeal.

In the large skillet you softened the onions, garlic and jalapeno in, add 1 tablespoon canola oil* and when it ripples slightly, add the cakes. Don’t crowd the pan—you want to be able to reach in with a skillet to flip the cakes. Cook for three to four minutes per side, or until lightly browned.

*You can cook the cakes with a skillet sprayed with nonstick canola-flavored cooking spray; just make sure to wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and reapply between batches so the spray doesn’t transmit a burned flavor to the cakes.