Vegan Black Bean Burgers

October 22, 2012

These amazing vegan black bean burgers come from the Candle 79 Cookbook.

I live at Candle 79 and Candle Cafe when I am in NYC. The Candle team really helped define sustainable plant based cooking in America. They brought a refined elegance and sophistication to vegan cooking, and have been delighting vegetarian and omnivores alike with their gorgeous, innovative, green cuisine. Serving up inspired, organic, seasonal dishes bursting with flavor.

In 2003, Bart Potenza bought a juice bar and renamed it “Healthy Candle” paying homage to the previous owners and their ritual of lighting candles to bless the establishment. In 1987, he met Joy Pierson, a nutritionist, who became his business and life partner. In 1993, after winning $53,000 in the NY Lottery on a ticket that was purchased on Friday 13th, they opened Candle Cafe. The restaurant was an instant hit, which spawned a thriving catering company, a wholesale line of foods, and the The Candle Cafe Cookbook. Candle Cafe was the first restaurant to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, and became a coveted location for discerning foodies all over the world.

In fact, in 2003, demand was so high for their services, Bart and Joy partnered with the genius of the Candle Cafe chefs, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda to launch the sister restaurant, Candle 79, an upscale two-story, fine dining, “vegan oasis” just 5 blocks away from the original haven. It too, was an overnight sensation, becoming a popular favorite with hipsters and locals; influential politicians and celebrities; as well as a destination dining experience for excited tourists. Since it opened, Candle 79 has consistently been rated as one of America’s best vegan restaurants, and has become a New York institution. It was selected as Zagat’s top-rated vegetarian restaurant in 2007 and 2008, and was the first plant based restaurant to be reviewed by the famous Frank Bruni of the New York Times.

But, if you can’t get to NYC to sample these revered delights in person, fear not! The Candle 79 Cookbook shares some of the most celebrated recipes from the restaurant’s repertoire. All of the delectable recipes have been tested and adapted for the home cook, and are super easy to make. And they actually turn out as they are supposed to! Trust me, I have made almost every single thing in this book and my friends and I have been in heaven! One of the coolest things about this book is that it is written by three people, Joy, Angel, and Jorge all bring their unique skills to the table, to serve up some of the most incredible vegan food I have ever tasted!

Angel Ramos is a vegan genius. As executive chef of Candle 79, his flare for multi-cultural cuisine just always mixes the right flavors and textures to create culinary magic. The NY Times and Vegetarian Times have acknowledged his mastery of vegan organic cuisine, and the mouth-watering recipes speak for themselves. As the beloved Candle pastry chef, Jorge Pineda’s complements Angel’s savory recipes with some of his best indulgent vegan treats that have been widely celebrated all over the country in places like the LA Times as part of “Best Vegan Desserts in America”. His new line of vegan desserts for Whole Foods Market, “Candle Chef’s Cuisine” rocks! Then Joy, certified by the Pritikin Longevity Center and Hippocrates Health Institute, offers up the nutrition background.

This amazing cookbook serves up more than 100 exceptional dishes that are hearty and decadent, yet healthy and fresh; and they all have the triple wow factor! The approachable yet extraordinary recipes include delights like Butternut Squash-Chestnut Soup with Caramelized Pears, Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Fresh Horseradish Dressing, Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes, Pan-Seared Pine Nut Pesto Tofu, Peach Parfait, Chocolate Mousse Towers, and Cucumber-Basil Martinis are all dressed to impress! Recipes are uniquely paired with bio- dynamic wines, and the beautiful vivid photography by Rita Maas will have you drooling and contemplating “death by candle indulgence” at every turn of the page!

This book makes you fall in love with vegetables, and the wonders of plant based cooking! The recipes are so delicious and easy-to-follow that it inspires confidence in the home cook; and with a handy glossary of terms and ingredients, as well as a resource guide for purchasing exotic foods, it gives each reader the tools to continue experimenting, and start their candle-lit veggie love affair!

The humane, compassionate, loving spirit of the book shines through too, and captures the essence and philosophy of the “Candles.” Joy, Angel, and Jorge are committed to spreading the word about eco living one happy belly at a time. The team at Candle are active charity angels, having formed relationships with local and national organizations such as People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF), Green America, and many others.

Scott and I are spending Thanksgiving in NYC, and we are eating Thanksgiving Dinner at Candle 79. I’m excited.

Don’t miss making these vegan black bean burgers. They’re amazing.


Vegan Black Bean Burgers

These black bean burgers will have you contemplating death by over-indulgence…they’re that good.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 burgers
Author Tess Masters


  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 (1-inch) piece kombu
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons  Celtic sea salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 6 to 8 gluten-free burger rolls (or regular)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Avocado slices, for serving (optional)


  1. Put the beans in a saucepan or bowl and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover and soak for at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and rinse.
  2. Put the beans, kombu, onions, chipotle powder, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper in a large saucepan. Add water to cover by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by the beans, but add a bit more water if they seem too dry. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the kombu and bay leaves.
  3. Meanwhile, put the rice and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat, stir once, cover, and simmer until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high 
heat. Add the pumpkin seeds, paprika, and the remaining 
1 teaspoon of salt and season with pepper. Cook the pumpkin seeds, stirring and shaking the pan, until they are lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  5. Combine the rice, beans, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.
  6. Transfer half of the mixture to your food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smooth, adding the reserved cooking liquid from the beans as needed to keep the mixture moist enough to stick together.
  7. Return the mixture to the bowl, mix everything together, and form patties about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.
  8. To bake the burgers, preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and put the burgers on it. Brush the burgers with oil and bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes, turning the burgers halfway through cooking. To pan-fry the burgers, coat a sauté pan with olive oil and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for about 
4 minutes per side.
  9. To grill the onion slices, lightly brush with olive oil and sauté them in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, 2 minutes per side.
  10. Serve the burgers on toasted burger rolls with the onion slices and avocado slices, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Recipe from Candle 79 Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photo by Trent Lanz; styling by Alicia Buszczak


Comments 4

  1. This sounds delicious. I am going to try this for the family and add the cook book to my Christmas list!!! Thanks for great variety of recipes Tess. Pardon my ignorance, but where can you find kombu?

    1. You will LOVE these and the cookbook is AMAZING. What a fabulous Christmas present! Kombu is a sea vegetable (seaweed) and you can find it at Japanese grocers or health food stores in plastic packets. It is GREAT for adding flavour and “de gassing” beans!

  2. I admit I used canned black beans in this recipe because I didn’t have the time to cook dried ones. After making the recipe from Blossom restaurant I read your post about this restaurant and had to make this recipe too. I just purchased a copy of this cookbook because these burgers were so good. What are the things behind the burgers in this photo? They look good too.

    1. I LOVE that you bought the cookbook! It is SO good! The polenta fingers in the background are in the book too. ENJOY!

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