That’s no typo. Beet (not beef) burgers are awesome. But I’m going to go ahead and guess you aren’t already enjoying these at your typical summer cookout. Though there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. If you give these guys a chance, you might be surprised – even you non-beet lovers out there. A couple of attendees at a demo yesterday afternoon certainly agreed. They’re crunchy, sweet, and moist. On a slice of toasted bread with some fresh greens and cheese, they quickly surpass the usual overcooked, dried-out burgers that I often dread at gatherings. I want flavor! And these deliver.
The keys to a good veggie burger, aside from something like a portobello mushroom burger, are a balance of beans, grains, veggies, and seasonings. What’s cool is that you can use whatever kinds you like. Pinto beans? Sure. Quinoa? Why not? Sweet potato? Definitely. But it’s certainly a balance. I’d say it’s a 1:1:2 ratio of beans to grains to veggies is ideal. Then flavor with the herbs and spices you prefer. Though, firmer vegetables are pretty much a necessity if that’s your burger’s focus. The root vegetable avenue is probably the way to go. And maybe some winter squash too.
On the other hand, an even balance of beans and grains, supplemented with some vegetables, works fine too. Though, technically, something like that might be classified as a bean or grain burger rather than veggie. Keep in mind that the beans and grains contribute proteins and amino acids that make a non-meat burger nutritionally balanced, so they’re certainly an important component no matter which kind you make.
Good characteristics of a veggie burger are: 1) that it stays together and 2) that it has some texture (not mush). If you find your burger heading in either of those directions, throwing in the chopped or ground nuts will help improve things immensely. I find that adding too much flour results in (logically) an overwhelming flour taste.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, diced and seeds removed
- 3 large red beets, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups black beans (or 1 can)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 4 Tbsp parsley, minced
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup finely chopped/ground nuts (optional; walnuts or almonds work well)
- Olive oil
- Bread, cheese, and other burger fixings
- Heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers and cook until softened. Stir in the beets. Cover and cook until the beets are tender, stirring occasionally – about 10-15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with cider vinegar and lemon juice.
- In a large bowl, mash the black beans up a bit. Add the rice, the beet mixture, and herbs and spices. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Slowly mix in a little flour and nuts (if using) until it’s a thick enough consistency for forming patties.
- Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. When you see the oil shimmer, the pan is ready.
- With your hands, scoop up about a cup of the burger mix and shape it into a patty between your palms. Set it in the pan, where it should begin to sizzle immediately. Shape and add as many more patties as will fit in your pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high.
- Cook the patties for 2 minutes, then flip them to the other side. You should see a nice crust on the cooked side. If adding cheese, do so now. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.
- Serve the burgers on buns or lightly toasted bread along with some fresh greens.
- Cooked burgers should be eaten the same day. Leftover mix can be saved for up to a week. OR, form your patties, place on parchment or wax paper, and freeze for a few hours before transferring to a large freezer bag.
Recipe adapted from Nick Evans at www.macheesmo.com.