Beets are one of those foods that I always had “rules” for. When I was a kid, I loved beets…out of a can. They had to be cold; I would not eat them warm. Yuck! And it was best if they were whole, not sliced. Sliced was ok but whole was more fun.
My mother would open a can of whole beets, put them in a bowl and refrigerate them. When it was time to eat, I would spear one of those cute little red balls with my fork and it would fly across the table, staining everyone and everything in its path. Or maybe I would get the beet on my fork only to drop it in my lap on the way to my mouth.
I didn’t like beets in soup either. My grandfather LOVED borscht. He ate it cold with sour cream. To me it tasted like fruit soup. I have made borscht and Tom loves it even though he swears he HATES beets.
So I was hesitant about making beet burgers. I know they’re very popular but since Tom and I both have beet issues, I wasn’t sure we would like them. I got some fresh beets that I was planning to just roast, refrigerate and enjoy all by myself. But I thought, why not? We should at least try them (though I admit I was a little scared to tell Tom what I was making).
You don’t have to roast beets to make burgers. You can peel them and grate or shred them and then cook them in a pan. But roasted beets taste richer and have a deeper flavor. And as long as you’re roasting the beets, why not roast some garlic too?
I used millet in my burgers because it has a very nutty flavor but you can use quinoa or rice instead. I also prefer bread crumbs to flour because I think it gives the burgers a better texture. The burgers turned out deee-licious! They are bright and fresh tasting but also savory. They held up well while cooking and while eating (don’t you hate when you bite into a burger and it all just falls out of the bun?).
Tom loved them though he still swears he hates beets. I loved them though I still swear I like my beets whole and cold. If you’re not sure you like beets or you have never cooked fresh ones before, my Roasted Beet Burgers is a great place to start. Enjoy!
1 head garlic
2 tsp.+ 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ cup millet
1 ½ cups water
2 Tbs. flaxseed + 6 Tbs. warm water
1 medium-size onion, diced
1-15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ cup walnuts
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
Toppings: lettuce, tomato, avocado
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the beets so they are clean. Trim the ends. Lay each beet on a small piece of foil. Drizzle with 1 tsp. oil and sprinkle with salt. Loosely wrap the beets in the foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour. They should be fork-tender. Remove from the oven, carefully open the foil (there will be steam), and allow the beets to cool so you can handle them. When they are cool enough to touch, remove the peels. You can do this by holding a beet in a piece of paper towel and lightly rubbing it. The peel will easily rub off. Cut each beet into chunks and transfer to a food processor.
As long as the oven is on, roast a head of garlic. Cut the end of the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and wrap loosely with foil. Roast in the oven with the beets. Remove from the oven, open the foil and allow the garlic to cool. When it is cool enough to touch, simply squeeze the garlic out from the peel into the food processor.
Prepare the flax gel which will be your binder. Combine the flaxseed and warm water in a mug, stir and let sit for 10 minutes until it thickens into a gel.
At this point the food processor should contain the beets, roasted garlic, millet, onions and black beans. Pulse until the ingredients are chopped up and incorporated. Add the flax gel, balsamic vinegar, parsley and spices. Add the walnuts and process until you have a thick mixture. You don’t want it to be too smooth, just well-mixed. There should be some texture. Taste for seasoning adjustments.
Transfer the burger mixture to a bowl. Add the bread crumbs, ¼ cup at a time, mixing it in gently until the burger mixture feels like it is holding together well. I use the whole cup of crumbs. Put the mixture into the refrigerator for at least ½ hour.
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers until browned, about 6 minutes per side. You may want to flip them carefully several times to ensure that the inside cooks while the outside doesn’t burn. You do, however, want the outside to char a bit and form a nice crust. If your skillet is small, cook 2 burgers at a time so there is room in the pan. Serve on a bun with your favorite toppings.