Black Bean and Beet Burgers

These burgers are intense. There are a lot of ingredients, the recipe looks daunting, and they require a bit of prep, but they claim to be the best veggie burger out there, so I had to give them a try.

Unfortunately, being the talented lady I am, I managed to make these burgers even more difficult to make. While peeling the beets, I sliced my finger and, after getting blood all over the floor, frantically calling my boyfriend, and waiting a few hours in the ER, found out that I severed a tendon. They stitched me up (BEFORE the freezing took hold in my hand, a very painful experience) wrapped a big bandage and splint on my hand and gave me an appointment to see the surgeon. So today, with my finger wrapped up and more than a little sore, I tried to tackle these burgers again. These burgers aren’t hard to make, but they are tricky when you only have one hand to work with. The drama wasn’t over though – after I opened my door to let some heat out of my tiny apartment, a giant fly flew in and spent the next half hour terrorizing me (as of publishing time, the fly was still at large in my apartment).

At least my nails look good!

However, even with a trip to the ER and a rogue fly, these burgers are worth it. Every ingredient has been cooked in a way that maximizes its flavour. The beets are roasted, the onions are caramelized almost to the point of crispiness, and there are dates for a touch of sweetness, paprika for a bit of spice, cumin for a smoky flavour and cider vinegar for a touch of tanginess. Plus, they are vegan and, because I used oat flour, gluten free!

The recipe says it makes 6 burgers but I managed to make 14 and I wasn’t being stingy when I shaped the patties. They are a bit sweet from the beets but not overpoweringly so; in fact, no one flavour takes centre stage, they all combine to give the burgers a complex, smoky flavour and a meaty texture that’s, well, like a burger.  These are amazing!

They are a bit of work to make, but can be done in steps: roast the beets, cook the rice, and caramelize the onions, then the next day throw the mixture together (I had to do it this way because of my clumsy cooking catastrophe). The mixture can be refrigerated for up to three days before you cook the burgers.  The original recipe said to use a smoking hot cast iron pan to cook these; since I don’t own one, I used my nonstick skillet and increased the cooking time. I managed to get a nice crust on the outside that also helps to hold these burgers together. If you want to grill them, I’d recommend putting them in a grill basket or wrapping in foil to make sure they don’t fall apart on the grill.

Recipe adapted from thekitchn

Ingredients

3 large beets

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup large flake oats

2 cans black beans

1/4 cup dates, chopped into small pieces

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp grainy mustard

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp thyme

salt and pepper

Buns, slices of cheese, tomatoes, and greens to serve

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Wrap the beets in foil and roast until easily pierced with a fork, 50-60 minutes. Let cool.

While the beets are roasting, bring a small sauce pot of water to a boil. Add rice and simmer until a little over-cooked, about 35 minutes. Drain.

Heat a tsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and starting to char, about 10 minutes. A dark, sticky crust should form on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and cook 30s, then add vinegar and stir to scrape the crust off the bottom of the pan. Cook until the mixture is almost dry. Remove from heat.

Pulse oats in a food processor until you’ve made a fine flour. Set aside.

Drain and rinse one can of beans. Add to a food processor with the dates and pulse until almost smooth, 8-10 pulses. Put this mixture into a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the other can of beans and add to mixing bowl. Add cooked rice and onion and garlic mixture.

When the beets are cool (and being very careful not to chop off a finger like me!) peel the beets. They should be soft enough to peel mostly with a spoon; you may need to (carefully!) use a knife to get some bits of skin off. Using a box grater, grate the beets into a strainer and press as much liquid as you can out of them. (If you want, you can do this over a bowl to save the beet juice).

Add the beets to the mixing bowl along with the oat flour, spices,  mustard, and 2 tsp olive oil. Mix until it’s all combined, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to three days.

Take small handfuls of the mixture and form into patties. Heat a skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom, and transfer patties to pan (I cooked them in batches of 3-4 to make sure I didn’t overcrowd the pan). Cover and cook about 5 minutes per side, until a nice crust forms on each side. If pieces break off while you’re cooking, just pat them back into the patties with your spatula. Add cheese (if desired) on top of each patty in the last minute of cooking to melt it up.

Serve on buns with lettuce and tomato slices.

Makes about 14 burgers

To freeze these, cooked or uncooked, place between two pieces of parchment and wrap each burger in plastic wrap. Defrost uncooked burgers overnight in the fridge before cooking, and reheat cooked burgers in the oven to make sure they stay crispy.

These beautiful burgers are flavourful, meaty, and delicious. They’re so good I’m planning on trying them out on my veggie burger-hating boyfriend. I think these could pass the test!

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