We are leaving for our trip in just over a week! I am so pumped. The anticipation is half the fun for me. In the spirit of leaving, I have been trying to use up the food we have so nothing goes to waste. This is a fun game for me, and leads to mostly vegetarian meals for Hugh. I'm priming his tum for all the croissants that are about to be consumed. I have so many suggestions for Paris, but if you have any favorite food/drink/walks/etc. in Antwerp or Amsterdam, I always appreciate tips from people who have been there.

I came across this recipe in an early copy of The New Persian Kitchen than comes out in a few weeks. I am a quick sell on homemade veggie burgers and find they are usually made with pantry staples and a few fresh items. Welcome to my fridge-elimination game, smoky beet burger! I've tried a generous number of veggie burgers now and learn something every time. First off, make more than you need. The leftovers make for an easy lunch, go great with some greens and an egg on top, or smashed and put in a wrap for a portable travel snack. When the recipe doesn't have breadcrumbs, be prepared to pay attention and handle the burgers deliberately. Eggs will bind, but they'll make you work for it. The texture and wetness of your mix should be similar to meat you would use for a regular burger. Even if you don't eat it, you know what it looks like, so at least you have a point of reference. If it looks too wet, flaxmeal, panko or a bit of coconut flour will help dry it. Personally, I like my mixture to have distinguishable chunks of the ingredients - no baby mash - so go easy on the processing. You want it pulsed just enough to stick together but lightly enough to appreciate the texture of say, the walnuts or bits of lentils here. It's unlike me to get persnickety on things like this, but I've made them enough times to have a list of mistakes, so I'm offering my two cents. A sweet and smoky vegetable-based burger is a good idea all notes aside. Congrats on a beautiful book, Louisa!


Recipe barely adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia

I wanted to provide the recipe as written in the book, but I will make a few notes here as well as in the directions. I made a quick feta spread, which is naturally salty, so I halved the salt called for in the recipe. Add a pinch more with no spread. As it goes with a gluten and dairy free veggie burger, these are VERY delicate. Keep them small and handle them delicately. I ended up adding an extra egg because I got pretty heavy handed with both the beets and the lentils and needed more binding power. If you're a good measurer, you should be fine with the one.

  • 3 T. grapeseed/extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, very roughly chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup grated beets
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked green lentils
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups cooked short grain brown (or white) rice
  • // feta spread //
  • 1 cup/ 8 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk greek yogurt
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • few grinds fresh ground pepper

buns, sliced cucumber, microgreens, tomato for burger building

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until just golden. Add the walnuts, raisins, beets, garlic and paprika and cook another 10 minutes, stirring often. Let the mix cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times until chunky.

Put the mixture in a large bowl and stir in the salt, pepper and half the lentils. Replace the food processor (dirty is fine) and pulse the other half of the lentils, egg and rice together a few times to make a coarse puree. Note: Louisa has you add all the lentils whole to the mixture, I felt like some of them in the rice puree helps it all hold. Add the rice mixture to the onion mixture and mix well.

Make the feta spread by mixing all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Use lightly oiled hands to form 8-10 small patties just under 1'' thick.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom. Place the burgers in the skillet (doing so in batches if necessary) and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. GENTLY flip the burgers, turn the heat down, cover and cook for 10 minutes until the burgers have a firm, brown crust.

Serve warm with your favorite condiments.

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Reader Comments (92)

Wow beet burgers! The combination with the feta looks amazing. I will definitely be trying this recipe soon. Love the photos as always! Hope you have a great time on you trip.

Mmmm. I ordered a beet burger recently in a restaurant, and was thinking I needed to look up recipes to try my hand at them on my own. Problem solved! As usual, the photos are stunning, and this looks delicious! Also, very jealous of your trip, and I'm the same way - the anticipation is at least half the fun! :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

These look delightful!! Can't wait to try them. Do the beets need to be roasted in advance?

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJana

Heavenly, and the colors are marvelous, too. Beet burgers have officially been added to the make-soon list :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBunny, C.

@Jana - nope, just grate them raw. They soften up in the sauté.

March 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

Oh my goodness these look amazing. Such incredible colors! Maybe I will finally be able to trick hubby into liking beets :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ Tasty Yummies

SO JEALOUS! I trained from Amsterdam to Belgium a few years ago...and, the best waffle I had on the whole trip was a leige waffle from a little stand at the Antwerp train station! In Amsterdam, you should definitely bike around in Vondelpark and stop for beer or coffee at the cute little cafes in the park.

Definitely do the Van Gogh/Rijksmuseum museums in Amsterdam, and an Indonesian meal at Sampurna

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Thank you, Sara! Like you, I am headed on a trip with my husband next week (to Washington, DC). I plan to make your peanut butter bites and probably one of your other healthy treats to sustain us through our travels. :) Have an amazing trip!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJana

GORGEOUS! Love that color.

Have so much fun on your trip!!!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarie @ little kitchie

Fun! I'm also headed to Paris and Amsterdam on Sunday, so I have a ton of stuff to do before then. I'm DEFINITELY pinning this for when I return in May!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane @ Vintage Zest

It's been awhile since my time studying abroad and our few days in Amsterdam, but the Van Gogh museum is a MUST! I'd also suggest renting bicycles and exploring the city center and its canals. Also, I remember a particularly good Indonesian meal we had but cannot remember the name of the place at all! Hope that helps - enjoy your trip!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternicole

These photographs are so beautiful!
I honestly have beet-lentil burgers on my 'list' for tonight - I had both in the fridge and needed to use them up. So I'm going to follow your recipe and all your wonderful tips! I hope your trip is magical. Looking forward to following along on instagram. :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersarah

These look amazing! I was pretty disappointed with the last beet burger recipe I tried, but this looks FAR superior. Can't wait to try them!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDesiree

Sara, Omg!! These look wonderful!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterami@naivecookcooks

this looks stunning!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeanine

This looks incredible!!!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAli Migliore

amazing - I'm dying to make these. Could I replace the rice with quinoa, or would that not hold it together as well?

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Ooh these sound so delicious! I love beets (although I detested them as a kid) and homemade burgers. I'm also loving this idea of putting walnuts and raisins inside - so many great textures! I hope you have a wonderful trip!

Amsterdam!! It's such a great city. You must try Dutch apple pie at De Winkel in the Jordaan area - it is considered the best apple pie in town! Also, don't miss out on stroopwafels, for fresh ones head out to Albert Cuyp, a typically Amsterdam street market open 9-5 mon-sat. Have fun!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterM

For amazing truffles and bonbons in Amsterdam, go to Puccini and to Huize van Wely. I remember enjoying the Stedelijk museum (modern art), and amazing Indian food in the Leidseplein (I think the restaurant is Akbar - it was over 10 yrs ago!). Enjoy your trip!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterA

These look amazing, I do have a question though, is there anything else to use aside from walnuts? I have a tree nut allergy but would really like to try these burgers. :(

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRikki

We had the most delicious beet burger at Deschutes Brewery in Portland. We went back a second time during our trip - it was that good. All I remember is that it had beets and walnuts in it, like this recipe! I can't wait to try it. :)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterileana

@Rebecca - I wouldn't suggest it. The rice gets kind of pasty in the processor and it helps it all stick. Quinoa wouldn't do that. Not sure it's worth trying...

March 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

The best way to see Amsterdam is on bike.. if only for a few hours. There is nothing like breezing through the city with the locals.

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Like mentioned before, Van Gogh is a must.

For food, the best chocolates in all of belgium are found at Del Rey, which has it's only location in Antwerp. While in Amsterdam the dutch pancakes are a must. They are kind of like a combination between a crepe and an American pancake. And although suggestions for Paris abound, the best bread is made by Poilane. Their selection is limited to a few breads, butter cookies, and apple tartes, but they make the best of all the things they sell. You can also eat lunch at their adjacent Cuisine de Bar, where they serve unbelievable tartines[basically toast with toppings] on their Poilane sourdough. The prix fixe menu includes a tasteful salad, a tartine of choice, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee and the best butter cookie you will ever eat.


March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSK

Yep. Got this in the mail yesterday and these were the first thing flagged. I was in a most awful, tedious business-type meeting today and had brought the book with me in case I had to wait long ... I kept peeking at it in between boring spreadsheet talk. Looking forward to trying these, especially now. AND have an AMAZING time. So excited for you guys!!! xox

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan Gordon

Sara, what a wonderful surprise to see my beet burgers interpreted in your unique and beautiful style! They look gorgeous, and all your notes are spot on. I hope you have a fabulous trip, and many tasty adventures while you're there. Hope to cook with you some time soon! Warmly, Louisa

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucidfood

Letting is a fan-tas-tic veggie lunch spot around the corner from the Anne Frank House
Winkel's a must for the apple pie
The library is worth a visit - the top floor has got a great view of the city and a cheap cafeteria with delicious salad bar.
Have fun!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMadeline

Thanks for the inspiration--I've been meaning to make veggie burgers of some sort for a while, and I will be sure to give these a try soon! The flavors sound delicious.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaytona @ Outside Oslo

I live in Amsterdam, and I can recommend having a baguette with Dutch cheese at De Kaaskamer and maybe also buy some organic cheeses - they sell the best in Amsterdam.
For dinner, WIlde Zwijnen (which translates as wild boars) in the lesser known, less touristy Eastern part of Amsterdamis great, they serve modern Dutch cuisine
For cocktails go to HPS

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLieke

These look so good! I love beets and I'm always trying to find different ways/recipes to use them in...

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSahar

This is wonderful! I've been looking for a beet burger recipe, and tried one that I wasn't completely happy with. I'm excited to try this one, which is a bit different!


March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBevin

I had the BEST sandwich at a cute little corner cafe called Staalmeesters (Kloveniersburgwal 127, 1011 KD Amsterdam) near the Rembrandtplein. Great place to escape the cold and people-watch for a little!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermandie

Wow, great trip--have a wonderful time. I took my children last summer to Amsterdam and Paris!!! We only had a couple days in each place. I LOVE Amsterdam. The people are so absolutely wonderful and eager to assist with anything. In Paris, go to Rue Mefetaurd (I don't think I spelled that right). It's a fun street and the farmer's market at the end is great---you will love all the fresh produce. have a wonderful time, wish I were going! Oh, and in Amsterdam, buy the tram pass for the set of days you will be there. Makes it easy to just jump on and go. The train station is beautiful on the outside. Have fun!!!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Definitely go to Winkle in the Jordaan district for the best apple pie. The Stedelijk museum is incredible as is the Van Gogh. Sampurna for Indonesian food is great and it is right next to the flower market, which I thought was a disappointment. There is also a great Belgium bar next to the palace square. My favorite part is just wondering the canal streets between the Jordaan and Leidseplein and popping into all the unique shops and corner pubs. There was a good mexican place as well but that's only important when you live in a country with zero mexican food!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara

BEEEET-ueatiful burgs! (get it?)

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBev Weidner

YAY for vacations! You're going to have a blast! I bet you can't wait... it's so exciting!

The wonderful combination of textures and flavors in this makes for one amazingly scrumptious burger. I can tell just from looking at the recipe. And I agree with you on not turning things into complete mash. You want that crunch in there. Or, at least, something to chew on. There's nothing worse than a mushy veggie burger.

I'm weird in that I eat meat, but I love veggie burgers sometimes more than real ones. I like the beets in these giving them a red color and these will be perfect for summer time barbecues when there are a few non-meat lovers present. They'll feel like they are getting something more special than everyone else. And definitely something better than a boca burger.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEliza B

@bev - your comments and instagram tags always make me laugh :)

March 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterSara

These are not only absolutely beautiful, vibrant, but look delicious. This will be on my "to-make" list especially with the warmer weather trying to make an appearance here in Nashville! Thanks for sharing ;)

Antwerp is a 1 hour drive for me. I've been there several times and keep on going back to this little cute bakery in the Korte Gasthuisstraat. Try the bread with raisins. If they have sugarbread, try it! It's delicious :-)
By the way, I 'm so excited! Your book is coming my way today. Can't wait to read through it...
Have a great time on you trip!

Laura x

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

These are so gorgeous!

I am so into these. I love it when those intense, earthy beet flavors are tempered. I hope your trip is fantabulous!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

I have not eaten many veggie burgers that get close enough to the real thing (unless one is comparing it to some bland fast food burger). Will have to try it and see how it stacks up. As to Amsterdam food - you will probably be facing the same problem; after eating in Paris it is probably going to be difficult to find food there, or anywhere (except perhaps Italy and Spain) that matches up.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonny

My favorite food experience in Amsterdam was having high tea at De Bakkerswinkl ( Their sandwiches were delicious and the lemon curd was to die for!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie R

Hi, I have been following your inspiring blog for a while and I have your book. I like it a lot. I feel a little jealous, I love all these three cities you are heading to.
A little, very pretty cafe in Antwerp, serves fresh sandwiches and salads : Den Boterham, Plantinkaai 14, 2000 Antwerp. I loved it.
I am also waiting for a change to go to Paris to try out Bob's Juice Bar, I think he also has a restaurant, Bob's Kitchen.
Enjoy the trip.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHjordis

your recipes and photos are driving me mad!!!
im sure i have some sort of condition which makes me
feel confounded whenever i encounter an abundance of lovely options!
thats why i prefer doing things on a small scale and limiting my choices.
otherwise i feel TOTALLY OUTTA CONTROL!!!
my own matters aside, i gotta say your stuff is RAD!

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertina

This recipe is fantastic. Will be trying it cause live beets. Never even thought that the burger with beets might exist. I agree that the best way to see Amsterdam is on the bike, but it mist be summer thought or warm weather, cause i remember when my hubby came back last april freezing, was not very enjoyable.Was good idea, but crap weather:)

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Gorgeous, as always.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily von Euw

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