SERV'n Up Black Bean Burgers

Photo credit: SERV International
We know you have seen the commercials with the beautiful actress who implores you to donate a dollar to feed a family for a day. If you are like us, you have always wondered how that could be possible. Enter SERV International, an Atlanta-based, non-profit organization that provides meals for impoverished nations through donations. They have created a way to nourish a person for an entire day for only 5 cents. The SERV 1 Feed 1 project distributes dehydrated meals in which one 8-ounce serving can satisfy a person's hunger for a day. To date, the project has distributed more than 5 million meals in Kenya, and over 1 million meals in the Dominican Republic.

You might be able to imagine our curiosity when we were challenged by the Association of Food Bloggers to participate in the SERV’n It Up Contest to come up with a creative recipe featuring SERV International‘s life-sustaining vegetable blend. The meal packets come in a dry form that when mixed with water and heated, provide vital nutrients to starving individuals. The mixture contains de-hydrated potatoes, rice, fortified textured vegetable protein, caramel color, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B6, riboflavin. vitamin B1, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B12, carrots, and onions which provides 680 calories per serving. SERV International provided us with a generous supply of the mix (enough to prepare 8 servings) to craft an enticing recipe.

With the summer season heating up, we thought the mix would make a wonderful vegetarian burger that could be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Black beans are a healthy addition which improves the color and texture of the patties.

SERV Black Bean Burgers
  • ¼ cup SERV vegetable mix (or substitute 1 cup cooked rice)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup quick-cook oats
  • ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Combine SERV vegetable mix with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and give the mix a good stir then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 or so minutes. Once tender, remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, drain the mixture well in a sieve, patting with a paper towel to remove excess moisture if necessary.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers, and reduce the heat to medium, and cook until they are translucent and softened. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Drain the canned black beans, (again making sure they are drained very well) and place in a large mixing bowl.  Using a potato masher or fork, mash the black bean mixture roughly, so that some black bean chunks remain. Add drained SERV vegetable mix, quick oats, cumin, sautéed onions and peppers, and blend together. Taste and adjust flavor with salt and pepper.

Dust your hands with corn starch and divide the bean mixture into 4 balls. Flatten the balls down to form burger patties. Dust a little corn starch on each patty; not too much, just a sprinkle. (You can freeze the patties at this point in a single layer in air tight containers).

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet and place 2 burger patties on the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium-high heat on each side. Remove when a crispy golden crust forms on both sides. Add more oil to the skillet and fry up the other 2 patties. Serve the patties as you would any burger on your favorite buns with ketchup, mustard and relish.

SERV International is doing amazing things to help feed those in need. You can help by visiting to donate, and by spreading the word about these lifesaving meals on Google+, Facebook, and on Twitter at hashtag #5centmeal.