For our first two years, Richard and I had a long-distance relationship, he living in Washington State and I in New Jersey. We’d meet somewhere across the country for our rendezvous, but our favorite place was what has now become our home—Sedona, Arizona.
The first time we met in Sedona was the first opportunity I had to cook for him. Oh, one important fact to note–Richard was not vegan. In wanting to ensure that I was able to create meals that would please this omnivore in my vegan home, I asked him what foods he enjoyed eating. His response—“I can tell you what I don’t like. I hate beets!)
Ok, so you know what was going to be on the main stage (his dinner plate) for the first meal I served him, right? Why, of course, beets!
So I had my work cut out for me. I had to figure out a way to camouflage this wonderfully earthy and distinct root vegetable with a well-defined flavor in a way that he wouldn’t figure out that it was beets he was eating.
After much pondering (and wondering whether or not it was a good idea to be this adventurous and bold as to serve beets as his first and what might, then, turn into the ‘last’ supper), I came up with the idea of making a burger.
I have to tell you that even I was astounded at how epicurean they were! As a result of these burgers, Richard is today officially a beet convert. Success!
Here’s how I won him over….(see, it is true! The way to another person’s heart is through their stomach…although I prefer to think it was more their taste buds)
3 large red beets, peeled and chopped in 1” diced cubes
4 teaspoons olive oil, evenly divided in half
2 cups water, divided into 1-1/2 cups and ½ cup
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup mushrooms
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/3 cup raw cashews, presoaked in water for 2-4 hours, then drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying burgers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a cookie sheet in the oven (preheating the cookie sheet in the oven stops the beets from sticking to the pan during roasting. Toss the beets in 2 teaspoons olive oil, and when the oven and cookie sheet are preheat, spread the beets evenly in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside to cool.
While the beets are roasting, combine the lentils with 1 1/2 cups water in a small pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until lentils are tender.
Also on the stove, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add the bulgur then turn off the heat and cover for 10 minutes. The bulgur should absorb all of the liquid and be tender when done.
Heat the remaining two teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add minced onion, mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary and cook for about 6 minutes. Both onions and mushrooms should be softened.
When you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready, start making your burgers!
Place raw cashews in either a food processor or Vita-Mix and process until they become partially blended. Add beets, bulgur, onion/mushroom mixture, salt, and pepper; and then process until combined. Add cooked lentils and continue processing until everything has combined but still on the “chunky” side. Remove mixture from either food processor or blender and place in a large bowl.
Divide the mixture into six burger patties. While not necessary, at this point and if time allows, I prefer to park the burgers in the refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours to firm up. This will help them hold together and sear on the outside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, then carefully cook each side for about 5 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Serve veggie burgers on whole wheat rolls with lettuce, tomato, a slice of vegan cheese (my personal favorite is Chao cheese by Field Roast) and a ketchup mixed with a dash of Sriracha sauce for some heat.
*An important aspect of sharing original recipes is to give proper credit to the author(s) of the recipe(s). I hope that you enjoy using these recipes and making them your own; but please do so with that integrity in mind. With much gratitude. Linda