Saturday, May 12, 2012

Beet Burgers

It's Mother's Day tomorrow and though I'm not one for large-scale celebrations of  intimate moments, I like this particular celebration because I think mothers can never be celebrated enough. 

So this post is dedicated to my mother. Mum, you were right. Beetroot is lovely. 

I really never thought I'd say this. If you had asked me a year ago whether I'd like to eat beetroot, I would have pretended to gag so hard you'd be sorry you asked. But today? Today I sheepishly admit that I love beetroot.

My mother used to get really annoyed with me because I used to (and still do) proclaim how much I hated some vegetable (or meat when I used to eat meat) or other without even giving it a fair shot. I dismissed eggplant as being yucky simply because I hated the mushy texture of the cooked vegetable; I retreated when my mother offered me a slice of fried tempeh because it looked ... well, it looked quite strange. 

The turning point was an appetizer of roasted beetroot with goats cheese which I ate at some restaurant in London last year when I was there on a work trip. The good thing about work trips? We always eat well. Well, almost always. I was skeptical when I ordered the dish. I had little choice as it was one of the few vegetarian dishes on the menu and I wanted something light. The only other option was a couple of pasta dishes which I wasn't to keen on.

When my plate came, I cut a small piece of the beetroot (it looked so beautiful, the deep crimson of the beets against the white of the cheese and the green basil leaves in between ... awesome) and hesitantly bit into it.

It was love at first bite. I couldn't believe it. It was sweet and tasted like caramel and together with the creamy and slightly salty cheese, it was heaven.

I was turned and have been cooking with beetroot since and these beetroot burgers are a testament to that.

Beet isn't the only ingredient in these patties, but it is the star. I actually used beetroot in a patty for the first time when I was doing a story about vegetarian burgers for my column in Star2. I used beetroot because I wanted my patties to have the pink colour of a hamburger. NOT because I was craving meat but just for fun. But when I tasted the burger, I was amazed at how much of an impact the beetroot had in terms of flavour and texture. Encouraged, I tried different combinations (the first was beet + mock meat + broccoli), preferably a patty with just vegetables and no mock meats or tofu. And each time, the patty turned out well because (I am convinced, being the beetroot lover that I am now) of the crimson veg.

For the recipes, apart from the beetroot, everything else was an experiment so you can really add and subtract any of the vegetables that I have included. The important elements are the binders (I used breadcrumbs) and one ingredient that can bulk up your patty -- I used edamame in one instance, mock meat in another and potato in the third. Of all three, I liked the potato patty the least and will next time for for some other bean instead.

Beet Burgers
1 cup beetroot, diced very small
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup roasted broccoli, chopped small (optional)
1/2 cup edamame/any other bean, pureed
1/2 cup roasted cauliflower, chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, diced small
a handful of toasted nuts, chopped fine (optional)
parsley, chopped fine
 breadcrumbs (enough to bind the patty together)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper (or any other seasoning you prefer)
Chilli flakes/powder (optional)
1/3 cup cheese

Mix all the ingredients together to form patties.
Chill for 30 mins so the patties harden a little. Heat some Olive oil in a skillet and brown the patties on both sides, about 3 -5 mins each side and then pop then in the oven (200C) for 30 mins or till they're firm and are cooked through.

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