Like Cilantro it seems that people either love beets or hate them! Tonight I made Beet Burgers (recipe courtesy of Didi Emmons and in my book “Totally Vegetarian”) for a couple of friends who swore they would never (ever) develop a liking for this sadly underused root vegetable. Even though I’m seeing beets making more frequent appearances on menus in upscale dining establishments, I find that very simple preparations not only taste better but are more economical for the everyday cook. This particular recipe is really easy to pull together, full of fiber, nutrients and makes enough for a couple of meals worth of burgers. Extra plus is that there is no added fat. I cook my burgers in a cast iron pan with barely a tablespoon of vegetable oil, however in a ceramic non stick pan they can be cooked fat free. Just watch the heat! I served these crisp on the outside warm and crumbly on the inside burgers without a bun, topped with a generous squeeze of Sriracha sauce. I complimented these flavorful and subtly “beety” burgers with a simple side of rosemary roasted potatoes and sweet organic pears. I’m happy to say, much to everyone’s surprise, that the entire dish was a hit! Be sure to buy your beets with nice fresh leafy tops. Tomorrow all of those glorious greens are going to find their way into a hearty minestrone.
Didi Emmons came on the show and made these burgers and ever since I was hooked. They’re truly spectacular. Note that these must be cooked over low heat, otherwise, the sugars in the beet will burn. But really, even if you’re hasty and burn the burgers, they’ll still taste fabulous. I recommend eating it bun-less, next to a big salad, with a puddle of hot sauce. You can freeze burgers in individual packages for easy preparation.
Makes approximately 8 burgers
2 T. vegetable oil
3 small beets, scrubbed well (about 1 lb.)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped (roasted)
1 mediun carrot ( scrubbed and roasted)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3-4 good quality beet green leaves
½ c. walnut pieces
1 c. raw millet
2 slices of whole wheat bread, lightly toasted
½ c. wheat germ (optional)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the oil on a baking sheet. Cut the beets into quarters and place them on the sheet pan. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic too. Lightly season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Bake until the beets are cooked, about 25-30 minutes, or until a knife enters the beet easily. Let the vegetables cool for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the millet. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and add the millet. Cook the millet for 30 minutes, over very low heat, and covered. When the millet is finished, put it into a large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.
In a food processor, combine the walnuts, the bread, the garlic, and the pumpkin seeds, and wheat germ, if using. Process until the bread is a nice fine crumb texture. Add the mixture to the millet.
Now add the vegetables to the processor and process until well chopped. Add the vegetables to the bowl as well. Stir the mixture with a large spoon and season liberally with salt and pepper. When the mixture is thoroughly mixed, chill it for 1 hour.
Form about 8 generously sized burgers with your hands, packing each down into a nice even height.
To cook the burgers, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan, over low heat. When the pan is hot, add the burgers. Do not move them once they are in the pan because this will cause them to fall apart. Let the burgers cook for a few minutes, then with a spatula, carefully flip them and continue cooking the other side until nicely browned. You want to develop a nice caramelized crust. Repeat with the remaining burgers, or freeze the extras in individual baggies for a convenient burger meal whenever you need it.