Bean Cakes, a Versatile Classic

Bean cakes — or croquettes, if you want to get all French about it — are a wonderfully versatile dish. They work equally well as a side at breakfast, as an appetizer with a dipping sauce, on a sandwich or in a tortilla. Use any kind of beans you like, and vary the flavorings to suit. I generally make mine with a Southwestern flair, but cannellini with Italian flavors or chickpeas with Middle Eastern flavors are also good ideas.

I have also made these with lentils, without much success, but don’t let that stop you from trying if you are a lentil fan. The lentils have to be cooked exactly right, though. If they are undercooked, the cakes won’t hold together, and if they are overcooked, the cakes will be too mushy.

My favorite way to serve bean cakes is on top of a pool of Roasted Vegetable Salsa, with some salsa drizzled on top. Any salsa will work well, as would pesto or even aioli.

Bean Cakes

Time to make: ~1 hour
Yields: 2-4 servings

  • 2 cups beans, pre-cooked or canned, drained and rinsed with some of the liquid reserved
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, whole with skins on
  • ¼ cup cilantro or parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup Mexican cheese, dry feta or Parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs as needed
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • food processor

Saute the onion until browned, about 10 minutes. At the same time, toast the garlic cloves in a dry skillet until spotty brown on all sides and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, process the beans with a little of their liquid until chunky. Peel and chop the garlic. Combine the beans, onion, garlic, herbs, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Form this mixture into 4 large or 8 small patties.

Place the patties on waxed paper and set in the freezer to firm about 30 minutes. Heat about 1/8 inch oil in a large skillet over medium. Dredge the patties in the breadcrumbs to coat. Fry the patties until browned on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Anything made into a cake and pan-fried has to be good. (Croquettes are traditionally deep-fried, but pan-frying is easier and better for you.) You can make croquettes with almost anything, and they are a particular tasty way of using up leftovers. For another style of croquette, try my Potato Croquettes. These Leftover Chicken Croquettes from AllRecipes look like a good idea for a quick weeknight meal. And here’s a recipe for Sweet Potato and Turkey Croquettes that’s a keeper for after-Thanksgiving leftovers.

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5 thoughts on “Bean Cakes, a Versatile Classic

  1. dylan555 3 May 2007 at 5:57 pm

    What, no mention of my bean cakes recipe?

  2. Shannon 4 May 2007 at 6:54 am

    I’m sorry, hon. Your bean cake recipe is what started it all.

  3. dylan555 4 May 2007 at 10:34 am

    As long as you don’t perfect and then surpass me at making sauce I’ll be ok.

  4. […] are always popular, and for me they are comfort food. I usually make them with mashed potatoes or beans. It didn’t occur to me that I could use another vegetable until I found Mark Bittman’s […]

  5. […] vegetarian and fast to prepare. Meal ideas include: salads; vegetarian stir-fry; vegetable soups; bean or vegetable cake; pasta and vegetarian sauce; bruschetta; spread such as hummus or guacamole on whole-wheat […]

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