Beet Burgers…that even an 18-month old will devour
There’s an infamous story in my family about my early and unparalleled affection for beets. I was three years old…maybe two…and my parents had a garden in which they grew beets. There are some pretty fantastic pictures of me in the garden, eating carrots from the ground, walking around with a chicken caught in a headlock under my little arm, me standing next to the coop with my finger up my nose. Priceless.
The story goes that one day my great grandmother “D” came for a visit. She had heard how much I loved beets, so when my parents offered to share some of the yield with her, my grandmother asked me if she could have some of the beets.
“You were normally a very generous child,” my mother will recount.
But on this occasion my little face hardened and my jaw set. “No!” I cried. “They’re MY beets!”
My parents sneaked a little bunch to Grandma D when I wasn’t looking. Good for them.
Now, I realize that not everyone shares my love of beets, though I think it’s safe to say they’ve recently made culinary waves, especially among those who are increasingly conscience of eating seasonally and locally. Up here in Vancouver, we can grow beets pretty easily, or purchase local beets in the winter, which make them a staple January vegetable in our house, along with winter squash and potatoes. We’re coming up with new and wonderful ways to eat them–roasted with other roots; shredded and tossed with feta, sunflower seeds and a vinaigrette as a salad; steamed and then roasted and tossed on top of a baked potato, and, our current favourite: burgered.
This could easily become a go-to recipe for you vegetarians out there, but I think even you fellow omnivores will find these burgers deeply satisfying, especially with a side of perfectly golden-browned oven fries. And, if you are a parent and have children who are anything like I was as a toddler, or who are like my 18-month old who devoured an adult-sized burger (sans bun) the other night, I recommend making up a batch of these and freezing them for easy, on-hand toddler meals.
3 cups shredded beet
2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar is nice)
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 TBS tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
Mix thoroughly, and allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes or so (this gets the bread crumbs and flour working with the moisture to bind the mixture together). If it is still impossible to shape patties that hold together, add a little more flour. The burgers will bind and set up in the cooking, so don’t worry too much if they seem a little fragile. I like to make them on the thick side.
The best way I’ve found to cook the patties is to preheat my cast iron griddle in the oven at 425F, then fill up the griddle with burgers. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the burger is nicely browned on the griddle side, then flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, place the patties on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking once the sheet side of the burger has browned nicely.
Serve with whatever you like to top a burger with, on whatever bun you fancy. We went for Portuguese rolls this time.