Beet, Lentil, and Brown Rice Burgers
Many people ask why vegetarians try to recreate burgers if they avoid meat. Well many of us enjoy the texture as well as the whole burger “experience” which often reminds us of backdoor barbecues and traditional grilling-out holidays such as the Fourth of July. There are some really authentic-tasting meat alternatives available now, in particular the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, which truly create the traditional hamburger experience. That being said, I think many people who are plant-based also really enjoy homemade veggie burgers, even if they don’t resemble a traditional meat patty. I’ve attempted to make quite a few veggie burgers over the years, and have realized that some have fallen short on flavor or texture, and others just don’t stick together well. That all changed when I discovered an amazing beet-based burger.
A short time after I had transitioned to a more plant-based way of eating, I found a phenomenal beet burger at The Cheesecake Factory of all places. It was meaty, colorful, and full of flavor. I began an all-out search online for a recipe that might recreate this handheld deliciousness. My research led me to a beet burger which was served at the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. This was felt to be one of the best around, and a recipe to recreate this was on the Post Punk Kitchen website. My first attempt didn’t turn out so well, as I used the recommended amount of beets and that’s all we could taste. Since that time, I use only 1/3 to 1/2 that amount and the burgers turn out great.
As a bonus, they are super nutritious. Beets are a great source of dietary nitrates. These are converted to nitric oxide in the body which acts to dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Beets also contain a class of phytonutrients called Betalains which not only contribute to the vibrant color, but also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help to reduce certain types of cancer. They also contain another class of phytonutrients called anthocyanins which also act as antioxidants and have been associated with improving cognitive function, lowering cholesterol, preventing certain cancers, and reducing the incidence of heart disease. The beet greens can (and should!) also be eaten. These contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are both good for eye health. I like to saute the greens lightly with a little bit of minced garlic.
Finally, lentils are packed with fiber and are a great source of plant protein. They are also a great source of iron, zinc, folate, potassium, and vitamin B6. While you can purchase these pre-cooked in the canned form, dried lentils are one of the few legumes that cook quickly and don’t require pre-soaking overnight or preparing in a pressure cooker. In fact, they can be cooked in about 20 minutes on the stove, making them really convenient to prepare at the last minute.
“8 beets benefits you may not believe”. https://draxe.com/beets-benefits/
Coyle, Daisy. “9 impressive health benefits of beets”. May 26, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-beets
- 1 ¼ cups cooked cooled brown rice (you can cook this in a small saucepan or rice cooker, or even buy frozen pre-cooked brown rice in some grocery stores)
- 1 cup cooked lentils cooled and drained (you can buy these canned, just drain and rinse well. If using dried lentils, use brown lentils and cook per instructions on the package)
- 1 medium beet shredded (this is in the original recipe. I suggest no more than 1/3-1/2 of a medium beet. Otherwise, the beet flavor may overpower the burger)
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp fennel ground or finely crushed (if you fennel seeds, can use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle)
- 1 tsp dry mustard or ½ tsp Dijon mustard (I use Dijon)
- 3 tbls finely chopped onion (red, yellow, or white is fine)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- ½ cup breadcrumbs or panko (I prefer panko)
- 1 flax egg (this was not in the original recipe, but I find it helps make the mixture stick together better. One flax egg: mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until thickened).
Peel beet with vegetable peeler after rinsing well with water. Shred with manual shredder or by using the shredder attachment of food processor
Insert standard blade into food processor
Pulse beets, rice, lentils (and flax egg, if using) 15 -20 times until comes together but still has texture and looks like ground meat. You may need to stir mixture together several times with a rubber spatula to make sure it is well-mixed
Transfer to mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients
Place in fridge for 30 min
Use 1/2 cup of mixture to form each patty with your hands
Fry in cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over med-high heat 10-12 min. Alternatively, can bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then finish off in fry pan to make brown and crispy
Enjoy with any standard toppings. I like Dijon mustard, ketchup, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and red onions!
Find the original recipe at Isa Chandra
Watch me make the burgers on my YouTube channel and choose from the quick version or the extended educational video