A Bathing-Suit-Friendly Quinoa and Black Bean Burger Recipe

This tasty (and gluten-free!) burger lets you indulge healthily.

This 230-calorie black bean and quinoa burger won't hurt your waistline. Photograph by Ali Eaves.

The cruelty of Memorial Day is that it’s a reminder that bathing-suit season is here—but all those pool parties and backyard barbecues come with an endless parade of hot dogs, burgers, and mayo-based salads. To help you celebrate without totally abandoning your healthy eating habits, try this recipe for a black bean burger that’s even more flavorful than the usual cheese-smothered grilled beef.

Dietitian Paulette Thompson, who created the recipe, explains, “It replaces meat in your Memorial Day barbecue with a plant-based protein that is rich in fiber, iron, and vitamin C.” It’s also gluten-free and much lower in saturated fat than a traditional burger.

Yield: 6 burgers
Per-serving nutrition: 230 calories, 6 grams total fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 14 grams protein, 540 milligrams sodium.

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa (makes 1 cup cooked)
2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, or 3½ cups cooked dried black beans
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons basil in a tube (found in the produce section)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


1) Rinse quinoa in a strainer under cold running water. Put quinoa into a medium saucepan and add ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes. (Or cook quinoa according to package directions, and use one cup.)

2) While quinoa is cooking, rinse first can of beans. Transfer to a medium-size bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Rinse second can of beans and add to bowl but do not mash (if using cooked dried beans, mash half and mix the rest in whole).

3) Add beaten egg and rest of ingredients. Mix well.

4) Mix in cooked quinoa. Mixture will be sticky.

5) Divide into six burgers.

6) If grilling: Spray foil or a grilling rack with nonstick spray. Carefully put patties onto foil or rack. Grill about 6 to 8 minutes per side.

7) To sauté in a skillet: Spray skillet with nonstick spray; cook patties over medium heat about 4 to 5 minutes per side, until lightly browned on both sides.

8) To serve, top with a fresh basil leaf or 1 to 2 tablespoons basil sauce or pesto. Can be served in a bun or alone.

Paulette Thompson, MS, RD, is a public health nutritionist for the DC government and the owner of a nutrition education and counseling services business in Cheverly.