Special equipment: Food processor
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes 12 burger patties
A few years ago, I made up a batch of beetroot burger patties with leftover ingredients at the end of the week. In truth, I don’t have any recollection of them beyond making them, but Fabio surprised me by requesting them a few months down the track. Of course, I couldn’t remember what I had put in them, so reproducing them proved a little tricky. I did however set about trying to perfect a new beetroot burger, and have made countless versions over the last year. Unfortunately, none of them were what I wanted. They were ok, but they didn’t make me say ‘wow!’. I tried many recipes from other cooks too, some even claiming to be the ‘best beetroot burger ever’, but I was not impressed. They were either too dry, too crumbly, too mushy or too bland.
I was pretty much ready to give up on a juicy, chewy, grill-able, flip-able great tasting beetroot burger. That is, until last week. Once again I found myself with a bunch of beetroot on clean-out-the-fridge-day. Could it have been fate? Not expecting anything fantastic, I threw a few things together. For some reason, I decided to finely chop the beetroot and puree the chickpeas with some tahini. Instead of rice, I used freekeh, as I had a box in the cupboard I was determined to use in some creative way. I don’t know how, but somehow this accident created the best beetroot burgers I have ever eaten. It was love at first bite, and this time, I had been clever and measured everything. Most pleased with myself.
The first couple of patties I fried tasted incredible, were juicy and moist and held together enough to be flipped and be handled, but would break in half if picked up on one side. That just wasn’t good enough, so I added some flax eggs. Perfect texture, but some of the flavour disappeared. Last night I made them again, this time adjusting a couple of quantities, and have to say that they taste just as good as the no-flax version, but hold together better than any firm, no-potato patty I’ve ever made.
These burgers don’t need to be baked, you can throw them straight into the frying pan. The spices are subtle so that the burger can go with a number of toppings. This would work with aioli, mustard, vegan cheese, ketchup, relish or mayo. Serve with rocket, lettuce or coleslaw. Because they aren’t dry, they are good enough to serve on their own with a salad. I LOVE the versatility of these burgers. They reheat very well in the microwave, as I discovered when I packed some for lunch at work today. In fact they might have even tasted better today than they did last night.
5 smallish – medium beetroots, peeled and ends trimmed
1 cup cracked freekeh
1 medium brown onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (reserve the liquid from the can)
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp liquid from the can of chickpeas
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
1.5 tsp cumin (or to taste)
2 tsp smoked paprika (or to taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp ground golden flax seeds mixed with 2 tbsp chickpea liquid (from the can) to form a thick goo
sunflower or canola oil, for frying
1. Rinse the Freekeh and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring often, until all the water has absorbed and the freekeh is soft and chewy, approx 15-20 minutes. Place into a large bowl and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a frying pan over low heat and add the onions. Cook gently until brown and sticky, approx 10 minutes. Add to the bowl.
3. Grate the beetroot and place into your food processor. Pulse until you end up with tiny pieces, but do not blend it into a paste.
Add the beetroot to the bowl with the freekeh and onions.
3. Place the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, spices, salt, olive oil 1 tbsp chickpea liquid in the food processor. Process until you have a thick, sticky paste that is as smooth as possible. You will need to scrape the sides down a few times to do this. Add the chickpea paste to the bowl and mix well
4. Add the breadcrumbs and flax goo and mix very well until fully combined. I find my cake spatula or hands (with gloves on) are the best ways to do this.
5. Line a couple of trays (or your bench) with non-stick baking paper. Take handfuls of mixture and form into patties. Place on the baking paper until ready to use. This mixture is very sticky, so I really recommend you form all the mixture into patties before you start cooking them or you are going to have burger mixture on everything you touch. If you like you can sprinkle the baking paper with some breadcrumbs to make them easier to move around
6. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the burgers and cook a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Be careful not to flip the burgers before the first side is fully cooked, as they will lose their charred, crunchy surface, approx 4 minutes each side.
all the burgers!