Black Bean and Beet Burgers

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When you grate beets and mix them with black beans, something interesting happens: the mixture looks a whole lot like raw hamburger. Even when they cook, they look more beefy than beety. Cheese lovers, you’re in for a treat: Grated cheese is tucked inside the patties, “Juicy Lucy” style. While the patties cook, the cheese oozes from the inside out and forms a savory crust.

This is a weekend project recipe versus a quickie weeknight dish. These patties involve a few pre-mixing steps, all of which can be done in advance. But you get a lot for your labor—a full dozen patties, which freeze beautifully. I wrap uncooked patties individually in parchment sleeves or plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator before pan-frying.

Makes about 12 patties

Ingredients

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, undrained, or 3 cups cooked black turtle beans with cooking liquid (from 11⁄2 cups dried)
1 pound red beets (about 3 medium), thoroughly scrubbed and trimmed
½ cup grated or very finely minced yellow onion
¼ cup quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats or oat flour
1 ½ cups cooked medium- or long-grain brown rice, cooled to room temperature
1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup grated sharp cheddar or smoked Gouda (optional)
¼ to ½ cup neutral oil, for brushing

For serving:

6 to 12 toasted English muffins or small hamburger buns
6 to 12 cups salad greens Mustard, pickles, or kraut

Recipe

Drain the beans, reserving about ½ cup cooking liquid, and transfer all but ½ cup beans to a large bowl. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they are mostly smooth and pasty (don’t worry about a perfectly smooth mash), adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if the beans get dry. Taste for seasoning, adding a little salt as needed and keeping in mind that home-cooked beans are typically less salty than canned.

Place the beets in a medium saucepan and completely cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce the heat to medium, until a paring knife easily pierces the beets, about 1 hour. Drain and let the beets cool before peeling.

When cool enough to handle, peel and grate the beets. You can do this with a fine or medium shredding disk in a food processor or the medium holes of a box grater. You should have about 11⁄2 cups grated beets—don’t worry if you have slightly less. Place the beets in a fine-mesh strainer and drain off as much water from the beets as possible. (You can also use your hands and squeeze like crazy, just beware your clothes as you do so.) Drain the onion of water in the same way; it’s ne to use the same strainer as the beets.

If using whole oats, pulverize in a coffee grinder designated for spices or in a mini-chopper until powdery and flour-like.

Add the drained beets and onion to the mashed beans, along with the reserved whole beans, ground oats, cooked rice, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. With a big spoon or rubber spatula, stir the mixture until well combined. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Remember that the addition of cheese will increase the saltiness of the end result.

Using a 1⁄3-cup measuring cup, portion out and shape the patties. You’ll want them to be quite flat, not humped. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (If are you making cheeseburgers, this chilling step is essential; otherwise, adding the cheese is a mess.)

After chilling, make an indentation in the center of each patty and add 2 teaspoons of the cheese. Fold one half of the patty over the cheese and reshape. The cheese should not be visible.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Just before cooking, brush the patties with oil on both sides.

Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat. In small batches, cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side. You may notice the cheese oozing slightly; this is OK, as the cheese will create a tasty crust. If the pan is looking dry, brush more oil on the surface or on the patties.

Transfer the patties to a sheet pan and place into the oven to keep warm until serving. The patties will be slightly soft on the inside with a firm, crusty coating.

Serve on the buns with your favorite mustard, pickles, or kraut, or on a bed of lightly dressed salad greens. The cooked patties with keep for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in a dry skillet.

© 2017 by Kim O’Donnel. All rights reserved. Excerpted from PNW Veg by permission of Sasquatch Books.

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