That's no typo. Beet (not beef) burgers are awesome. But I'm going to go ahead and guess you aren't already enjoying these at your typical summer cookout. Though there's no reason why you shouldn't. If you give these guys a chance you might be surprised - even you non beet lovers out there. A couple of attendees at a demo yesterday afternoon certainly agreed. They're crunchy, sweet and moist. On a slice of toasted bread with some fresh greens and cheese, they quickly surpass the usual overcooked, dried out burgers that I often dread at gatherings. I want flavor! And these deliver.
The keys to a good veggie burger, aside from something like a portobello mushroom burger, are a balance of beans, grains, veggies and seasonings. What's cool is that you can use whatever kinds you like. Pinto beans? Sure. Quinoa? Why not? Sweet potato? Definitely. But it's certainly a balance. I'd say ia 1:1:2 ratio of beans to grains to veggies is ideal. Then flavor with the herbs and spices you prefer. Though, firmer vegetables are pretty much a necessity if that's your burger's focus. The root vegetable avenue is probably the way to go. And maybe some winter squash too.
On the other hand, an even balance of beans and grains, supplemented with some vegetables, works fine too. Though, technically, something like that might be classified as a bean or grain burger rather than veggie. Keep in mind that the beans and grains contribute proteins and amino acids that make a non-meat burger nutritionally balanced, so they're certainly an important component no matter which kind you make.
Good characteristics of a veggie burger are: 1) that it stays together and 2) that it has some texture (not mush). If you find your burger heading in either of those directions, throwing in the chopped or ground nuts will help improve things immensely. I find that adding too much flour results in (logically) an overwhelming flour taste.
Check out my column in the Rutland Reader this week where I share my thoughts on a veggie burger from Taps Tavern in Poultney and offer the recipe for the bulgur burger you see here.
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If you're new to veggie burgers, this is a good place to start. And beets aren't all that messy to work with - despite popular belief. I've never had an issue. And you could always use a food processor. So, have fun with this one and then try some of your own combinations!
Recipe adapted from Nick Evans at www.macheesmo.com.