When I had to give up dairy, I turned to a cookbook called Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It became my savior through that period and I have always trusted her recipes. I tried the recipe for Beet Burgers from her website and it is phenomenal! They are hearty, tasty and thoroughly satisfying. They did not fall apart or stick to the plan as I expected them to, as my past experience with veggie burgers has usually been. When put together like a regular burger with lettuce, tomatoes and a bun you get the whole burger experience without the fat or that bloated feeling in the pit of your stomach after you eat. Beets are high in iron, B-complex vitamins and folic acid as well as being linked to numerous other health benefits.
I used pre-cooked rice that I bought in a bag and a can of lentils, which saves so much time not only in the cooking but in the cleanup too. I shredded the raw beets in a food processor then added the rice and lentils. Easy. Pay careful attention to the cooking directions, I used a very hot cast iron pan and the cooking was flawless, which is very unusual in my kitchen.
Now, my husband has high cholesterol therefore we eat very little red meat. I count myself extremely fortunate that he is an adventurous eater who is not picky at all with vegetables. But even if you do have a picky eater (or skeptical one) at the table they will have little to complain about once they taste these. They even look like meat.
Notes on a slight variation-I did not have any fennel in the house and I’m not a huge of the stuff anyway so I left it out. The burgers appeared to suffer no loss.
1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice (see recipe notes above)
1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, cooled, drained well
1 cup shredded beets
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (or finely crushed fennel seed)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs
Olive oil for the pan
Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then set aside. Change the attachment to a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils about 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together, but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat:
Now transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time, it could take a minute or two.
Place the mixture in the fridge for a half hour to chill.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Now form the patties. Each patty will be a heaping 1/2 cup of mixture. To get perfectly shaped patties, use a 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter or ring mold. Otherwise, just shape them into burgers with your hands.
Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Do two at a time if you’re pan isn’t big enough. Drizzle in a little more oil or use a bottle of organic cooking spray as needed. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.
Serve immediately. But they taste pretty great heated up as well, so if you want to cook them in advance, refrigerate, then gently heat in the pan later on, then that is cool, too.