Black Rice Pecan Burgers with Cilantro-Chili Cashew Cream

Black rice burgers with cilantro-chili cashew cream

Sometimes, accidents happen.

But if you get really lucky, something good will come out out of it.

And according to my Pa, I’m one of the luckiest people he knows, so there you go.

The other day, shortly after I returned from home leave, I was in the kitchen making dinner.  I had a brilliant idea that would not only be delicious, but also use up a languishing ingredient in my refrigerator.  But who knew that phyllo dough does not in fact last 6 months in your fridge???  Well folks, it doesn’t.  I’m not even sure it lasts 2, it was that far gone.

I stood there contemplating.  I wanted to put dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes, and so far all I had going was some local squash roasting in the oven.  I searched the fridge for something non-moldy.  Lo and behold, I came upon the black rice that I had cooked the night before.  It had been our first experience with black rice; I wanted to try it for its nutritional benefits.

Black rice

Higher in protein and fiber than brown rice or red rice, it also boasts the powerful anti-oxidant anthocyanin.  This phytochemical is what gives black rice its rich black/purple hue and helps protect against cancer and heart disease.  And did I ever mention that purple is my favourite colour?  But I think my kids found the dark purple colour off-putting for their first experience with this rice, and I had a lot left over.  I loved its chewy texture and nutty flavour, though, and reckoned it would make the perfect pattie.  My quick dinner solution!  I used flax egg & coconut flour to bind it, and cumin/chili powder/coriander for flavour.  They came together really fast, and we were eating within half an hour.

Black rice pecan burgers with cilantro-chili cashew cream

It was a pretty successful dinner!  But I still felt like something was missing… and that something was sauce for the burgers.  I think we ate them with bottled salsa that night, and it was fine.  But then I wanted something that would be the ideal complement to the colour, flavour, and texture of the burgers, and came up with this: cilantro-chili cashew cream.

Cilantro-chili cashew cream is good on everything!

Cilantro-chili cashew cream is good on everything!

It’s based on my regular recipe for cashew cream (soaked cashews blended with a little tahini and lemon juice) with a huge handful of cilantro leaves and stems, and 2 mild green chilies.  Yes!!  I knew the second I tasted it that this was gonna be it.  It made me wanna just eat it with a spoon!  It’s not only a beautiful colour, but its creaminess is a perfect foil to the hearty nuttiness of the rice & pecans, and its piquant flavour pops the cumin/chili of the burgs.  It just works.

Black rice pecan burgers with cilantro-chili cashew cream

This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, although you can use eggs instead of flax meal if you are not vegan.  Be warned- the mixture is fairly sticky, and when you’re making the patties, just focus on that and don’t try to answer your phone or send any texts.

Because sometimes mistakes turn out great… and sometimes you end up with rice in your hair.

Black Rice Pecan Burgers with Cilantro-Chili Cashew Cream

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Black Rice Pecan Burgers with Cilantro-Chili Cashew Cream


    For the burgers:
  • 1 cup black rice, cooked according to package directions (you should have about 3 cups cooked black rice)
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 T. nutritional yeast
  • 2 flax eggs (2 T. flaxseed meal + 5 T. water)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. coriander powder
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • ½ t. chili powder
  • 3-4 T. coconut flour
  • 1-2 T. olive oil or coconut oil, to cook
    For the Cilantro-Chili Cashew Cream:
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours in cold water & drained (see Notes)
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice (1 whole lemon)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy plant milk
  • 2 mild green chilies, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, stems & leaves, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except coconut flour and oil, and mix well. Add coconut flour 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. You may only need 3 tablespoons. Stop when the mixture holds together when you press it together. It will be sticky… but if it’s too sticky, add another tablespoon of coconut flour.
  • Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter, then press slightly to form a flattened disk. Alternatively, you can make 3-inch patties about ½ inch thick, pressing well to make a flat disk. You should have 24 small patties or 5-6 large ones.
  • Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, cook patties 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned and crisp. Serve with cilantro-chili cashew cream.
  • Makes 5-6 servings.
    For the Cilantro-Chili Cashew Cream:
  • Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth & creamy, adding water if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Makes about 1 cup.


If you forgot to soak your cashews ahead of time, don't worry! You can soak them in hot water for 30 minutes and they will be good to go.

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