Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beet Drop Burgers

I have an updated, simpler recipe here, where I'm not trying to use up certain tasteless tinned ingredients... ;)

I have a confession to make: I don't like dry burgers. Now, when I phrase it like that, I'm sure that everyone agrees. But the truth of it is, that my burger of choice is one full of vegetables, and that I want it to be extra juicy. I want a burger that has some texture, that’s still crispy-fried on the outside, but that isn’t all loamy inside like commercial vegie patties tend to be. So what do I do? Make a burger out of vegetables that make good juices. Am I crazy? Most definitely. But did I make some delicious burgers? You bet.

Yep, I know you’re probably recoiling at the colour. The truth is that I love colourful food, and honestly, a couple of beets aren’t going to scare me away. I think beets are great – in moderation. By themselves, I can’t eat all that much. They can be overly sweet, and they’re best mixed with something refreshing, like cucumber or fresh greens. They’re also great roasted with sweet potato, pumpkin, or whatever other vegies you like in your traditional roast, provided you don’t mind a little of the colour spreading to the other veg. Hey, I like a decorative meal…!

You’re going to have to excuse the over-exposed photos. My camera loved the colour as much as I did, so I chose not to change the colour settings. Sometimes the idea of eating a fluorescent meal is just too good to tamper with.

Both the carrots and the beets in this recipe came in bunches from the last Dom Markt – that was on Saturday. I believe that per bunch, the beets were €1.80 and the carrots €1.20. Both veg are long-lasting, but if you’re like me and love beet greens, then you’ll want to eat those within a couple of days. Carrot greens can be used in place of parsley, but they tend to get overpowering very quickly, so use them sparingly. Or, if you prefer, you can always compost them. We don’t have compost, and I’m a student, so it’s easiest just to eat what I can! The herbs I used were less than a Euro per bunch, but I only used half a cup, so really there’s just more left for pizza and tabbouli. Win!

Oh, and in the case of frying these burgers, thinner is better. Honestly, the crispier you get the outside, the greater they are to bite into. If you’re one of those people who likes thicker burgers, add another ¾ cup flour and a teaspoon of baking powder, to give them a little rise. If you want lighter burgers, omit the chickpeas. I used a tin of hommus because it needed to be used – I discovered that hommus simply shouldn’t come from a can. Enough said.

These burgers are probably technically fritters, because they’re dropped into a hot pan and spread to the desired size – except that I tend to make my fritters using more flour. The idea is that these are moist, but still firm enough to hold together when you fry them. I recommend, against the advice of any health professional, to allow them to get pretty dark when you fry them – it’s the toasty, crispy bits that really make the flavour. They’d probably be great with a touch of garlic or ginger in the mixture, but I was a little too hungry to bother.

Check out that colour! :)

Beet Drop Burgers

2 Medium Beets
2 Medium Carrots
1 380g can Hommus (or 1 can Chickpeas, blended)*
½ cup Fresh Herbs, chopped (I used parsley and basil)
1 tsp dried Thyme
½ tsp ground Chilli or Cayenne
2 eggs-worth of egg replacer (I used ground flax with hot water)
¾ cup all-purpose Flour or Breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and grate the carrots and beets.
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl. You don’t want your mix to be too liquid, but this depends on how juicy your veg and your chickpeas are. You want your mixture to become quite sticky and hold its shape when you stir it, but you don’t want it to be so thick that you can’t shape it once it’s in the pan. Add more flour or breadcrumbs if you need.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drop about 1/3 cup mixture into a preheated, oiled pan. Spread it out to form a layer about 1cm thick, and allow to cook until brown, then flip to allow the other side to cook. If they fall apart when you flip them, then you need to allow them to cook for a little longer.
Once they’re cooked, do as you do for all freshly-fried items: sprinkle them with a little salt. Serve with salad, or in a burger roll with avocado and a slathering of dijonnaise.

Makes 10-12 burgers… which might seem like a lot, but you can’t stop at just one. Or, if you’re me, you can’t stop at two… or more…

*You can omit the chickpeas entirely if you want a lighter burger. Like I said, I was just trying to hide the hommus in another food, because I can't bear the thought of throwing something out...

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