Spicy Beet and Bean Burgers

We love vegeburgers, but the ones for sale are filled with salt and fat, so I decided to make our own and freeze them for when a burger is on the menu. This is the most labor-intensive burger recipe in this blog, so double the recipe and freeze leftovers.

Spicy Beet and Bean Burgers
Makes about ten 5-ounce burgers

2 cups cooked medium grain brown rice (best if cooked without salt and refrigerated overnight)
7 ounces red beets
1 medium yellow onion, thinly-sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar + 2-4 drops liquid smoke
2 (15.5-ounce) cans low-sodium black or pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and dried*
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dark miso paste
1/4 cup dates, minced (rolling in a bit of flour before mincing helps reduce stickiness)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs**
2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill egg substitute
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
Tomato, avocado, lettuce

  1. Cook the beets: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap beets loosely in aluminum foil and roast until easily pierced with a fork, about an hour. Set aside to cool.
  2. Caramelize the onion: While the beets are roasting, add the sliced onion to a heavy pot and cook, stirring, until onions are caramelized. Add water, as needed, to keep the onion slices from burning. When the onions have reduced in volume and become golden and sticky, add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar-liquid smoke mixture. Continue to simmer until the balsamic vinegar has evaporated and the pan is nearly dry again. Remove from heat.
  3. Make the chili mixture: Mix the chipotle pepper, a few tablespoons of adobo sauce, lime juice, and miso together.
  4. Process the beans: (Be sure to drain-rinse-soak-rinse-dry first*) In a large mixing bowl, lightly/roughly mash one half of the beans with a fork, leaving beans chunks. Scatter the dates on top, add the rest of the whole beans, and mix together.
  5. Grate the roasted beets: Using rubber gloves to avoid red hands, scrape the skins off the cooled beets with the back of a spoon. Grate on the largest holes of a box grater, or use the grating disc on a food processor. Transfer to a double layer of cheesecloth and twist and squeeze repeatedly to remove every bit of liquid possible.
  6. Combine the burger mix: Add the beets, cooked rice, sautéed onions, and chili mixture to the bowl with the beans. Sprinkle with all other flavorings. Mix all ingredients by hand until combined. Taste and add any additional heat you’d like. Finally, add the rolled oats, dry bread crumbs**, and egg substitute, and mix well.
  7. Refrigerate the burger mix for a day: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for for a day. This is a very important step—it will help keep the burgers from crumbling when you cook them.
  8. Shape the burgers: If mixture looks too wet after its rest in the refrigerator, stir in the cup of panko breadcrumbs (if this seems a difficult call, just form and cook *one* burger, and see how it behaves). Shape the burger mix into burgers. Scoop up a little less than a cup of the burger mixture and shape it between your palms into a patty the size of your hamburger buns. You will end up with 8 or more patties.
  9. Cook the burgers: Heat a very well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cast iron will create the best crust on the outside of the burgers. Add a tiny bit of olive oil to the skillet, if you use oil, otherwise just keep an eye on the pan to avoid burning the burgers (or use a nonstick skillet). Transfer the patties to the hot pan. Cook as many as will fit without crowding. Cook the patties for 3 minutes, then—carefully—turn them over to the other side. If any pieces break off when you turn the burgers, just pat them back into place with the spatula. Cook for another 3 minutes.

Serve the veggie burgers on whole wheat burger buns topped with your favorite additions—guacamole or avocado slices, salsa, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, pickles, etc. Great with baked potato wedges.

Recipe Notes

*Draining and Rinsing Beans: Rinse and drain beans for 2 minutes in a sieve. Then soak in cool water for 10 minutes, followed by another 2-minute drain. Pat the beans dry.

This process will reduce the sodium in low-sodium canned beans by up to 41%. For even lower sodium goals, cook your own dried beans without salt and skip the miso and Worcestershire sauce. 🙂

**Dry Bread Crumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Tear or cut one or two pieces of whole wheat bread into 1-inch chunks.
  3. Transfer the pieces of bread to a food processor and process until the chunks are reduced to crumbs. Remove any large pieces of crust and discard.
  4. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Bake until they are completely dry and starting to turn golden (but not burned), about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring the breadcrumbs often so that they dry evenly.

Freezing Burgers: Burgers can be frozen raw or cooked. Wrap each burger individually in plastic or between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, and freeze. Raw burgers are best if thawed in the fridge overnight before cooking. Cooked burgers can be reheated in the oven, a toaster oven, or the microwave.

Grilling Burgers: Cook burgers in a grill pan to avoid having them fall apart.

Recipe adapted from a recipe by The Kitchn.

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