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!
SMOKY BEET BURGERS // Makes 8
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.