Food For Thought: Barbados Black Bean Cakes With Mango Salsa


By Lavinia Plonka


Playing in the Kitchen is the result of many ridiculous kitchen disasters and quite a bit of improvisation. Every recipe in the book has been the victim of forgotten ingredients, bad timing and inadvertent kitchen fires, yet everything eventually turns out OK. It is my hope that readers feel liberated to take chances with their recipes and learn that food can be fun. Each recipe offers options for substitutions, mistakes and what happens when fire enters the equation. Have fun! (contact Lavinia to purchase her cookbook.)


Barbados Black Bean Cakes With Mango Salsa


4 generous servings


Mango Salsa:
2 cups peeled, diced mango
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 serrano pepper
2 Tbs. Coarsely chopped cilantro
2 tsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. Lime juice


Black Bean Cakes:
2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed, or if you cook from scratch, about 1 3/4 cups cooked beans.
1/4 chopped cilantro or parsley
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish (optional)


Salsa: Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.


Make sure that you drained the beans very well. If there is too much moisture, it makes the patties difficult to work with. Place beans in a large bowl and coarsely mash until they stick together. Add cilantro or parsley, onion, egg, cumin, garlic, allspice, salt and cayenne. Mix until well blended. Divide mixture into 8 equal parts. Shape into 1/2 inch thick patties.


Coat patties with bread crumbs. They can be delicate and crumbly, so you might want to put the patties on wax paper so you can transfer easily to the frying pan.


Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bean cakes and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Serve with salsa and garnishes.


Playing With Your Food


Guests: Check if they like cilantro – it’s a love it or hate it kind of herb.


Substitution: Cilantro can be skipped if you realize you don’t have it. If Serrano peppers are hard to find, use jalapeños or some other chile peppers – just check the heat on them and adjust the amount accordingly.


Don’t have red onions? Use what’s on hand. I once lost this recipe and added oranges to the salsa because I thought I remembered that as an ingredient. I had guests over and they kept asking for the recipe.


Fire: Just keep your eye on the patties – they can brown quickly.



When not buying cases of wine at Sam’s Club, Lavinia helps increase dopamine levels teaching The Feldenkrais Method®. Want more cosmicomedy?

Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall