Bean Cakes: A One-Act Play

Where: The Kitchen
When: Weeknight, Dinnertime
Who: Mother (in untucked work clothes and flip flops, loose pony-tail); Her 8-year-old daughter doing homework at kitchen table


8-Year-Old: Mom? What’s for dinner?

Mom: Bean cakes.

8YO: Mo-om! What’s a bean cake? [Pause.] I’m not eating a bean cake.

[Critical juncture: Does Mom engage? It would be SO fun to engage, she thinks. Does she use logic? i.e. You love beans, you love cake! You’ll love bean cakes! Mom does neither.]

Mom: Ok, you don’t have to eat them. [Blase, casual.] You know there is always something on the table that you’ll like.

8YO: [Somewhat taken aback by lack of engagement.] OK.


8YO: Do I have to eat a bean cake, Mom?

Mom: No, I said you didn’t have to. [Flipping a hot one in front of 8YO’s counter-high nose.]

8YO: Maybe I’ll try a bite. But only a bite.

Mom: OK.

8YO: Fine. I will only have two whole bean cakes if I can have sour cream on them.

Pinto Bean Cakes

From The Hominy Grill Cookbook**

1 cup dried pinto beans
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/3 cup celery
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon tabasco
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
flour for dredging

Soak dried beans in water overnight. Or follow instructions on bean package for quick soak.

Drain and rinse beans. In a medium saucepan, cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook, over medium high heat until tender, 45 minutes. Set aside 1/4 of the beans.

In a food processor, combine the rest of the beans with eggs, cheese, celery, parsley, scallions, lemon zest. Pulse to make a rough paste. Remove to a medium bowl.

Mix in bread crumbs, olive oil, Tabasco, salt, pepper and reserved whole beans. Stir lightly to combine all ingredients.

Divide the mixture into 12 even patties.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, pat the cakes with flour and brown the cakes in the pan, cooking until they are browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining patties.

Serve with sour cream, chopped chives, and orange sweet potato mash (bel0w).

Orange Sweet Potato Mash

Bake 2 medium sweet potatoes at 425°F for 40-45 minutes. Slice and scoop out flesh into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons butter, about 1 tablespoon orange juice, salt and pepper, and mash with a fork (I use a beater attachment from a handheld mixer) until smooth.

**For anyone who has been to this temple of lowcountry cuisine in Charelston, SC, you won’t need any song-and-dance about how delicious a recipe from the menu of  this restaurant might be; for anyone who has not been there and has no plans to go to Charleston any time soon, I implore you: please buy this cookbook. Though, be forewarned, it’s not really a cookbook. It is a little slip of a thing featuring two dozen of Robert Stehling’s signature dishes, including the definitive Shrimp & Grits,  Mac & Cheese, Mile-High Biscuits,  and is so homespunny and charming that looks like it’s been stapled together by the chef himself.)

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Always looking for a vegetarian dish that is quick. Thanks!
P.S. Loved my bumper sticker…too cute!


sounds awesome!! i love bean burgers – especially with lots of sour cream!! love your blog. makes me happy.


The dialogue is spot on!

Do you think you could use canned beans instead?


Elizabeth – I haven’t tried it with canned beans (this was the first time I had ever made the dish) but my guess is that it would work that way too. Why wouldn’t it? Let me know how it turns out if you try it…


Thank you so much for posting this recipe … they are AMAZING! I made it tonight with a can of pinto beans. I followed the recipe with a few tweaks. I used cilantro instead of parsley because that’s what I had and I added a little grated garlic. The one can of beans yielded 5 cakes which was enough for my husband and me … my kiddos don’t do beans :-(.

I am truly enjoying your blog … you’ve inspired me to cook new things again.


Just wanted to let you know that I finally got around to making these tonight and they were so good. My almost 4 year old took one look at them at the table and said, “I don’t like beans”. Then she proceded to eat a whole patty. Success!

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made this for supper tonight. hubby and I loved it. 12 year old son.. gagged (sorry); 14 year old daughter choked it down. usually good eaters too, so I was surprised. looks like leftovers will be my lunch this week (which is just fine, cause I loved it!)