Beetroot Barbecue Burgers
VEGAN BARBECUE MINI SERIES- PART I OF III
Barbecues have become synonymous with meat. Sausages, burgers, chicken.. it seems like an excuse to eat as much meat as humanly possible, often accompanied by little more than white bread rolls and a variety of sugary sauces. Obviously, a hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t want to eat meat or holds any concern over their general health and nutrition. However, barbecues to me are about sunshine, good company and alcohol, and there is no reason that plant-based lifestyles need be excluded from this fun. In this three-part recipe series, I am attempting to offer inspiration as to how to cater for vegan friends who are coming over, or even just what to take as a vegan to a barbecue. If you’re anything like me, plain vegetable kebabs or shop-bought sausages leave a lot to be desired, and you shouldn’t have to compromise on good, hearty food for fear of being labelled ‘difficult’.
As a sensible starting point, I’m tackling the veggie burger. The first recipe of this series focuses on what to take as a vegan to a barbecue with carnivorous friends. If your host is willing to do some vegan sides for everyone to enjoy, then everyone else can eat some beef burgers (or whatever) and you can whack a few of these bad boys on for yourself and you’re all good to go. Just in time for the last few barbecuing weeks of English summer, I think I’ve finally nailed the veggie burger. I’m often asked (mainly by Dad, a burger-making enthusiast): how do you bind burgers without eggs? I think there are various ways to do this, and one trick I’ve learnt is that leftover rice whizzed up in the food processor forms a sticky paste which holds everything together. One thing to consider with this, however, is that plain rice waters down the flavour of the burger somewhat, and you have to ensure that the rest of the burger is packed full of other tasty ingredients. As well as this, I often find it’s more about the cooking method than the ingredients which affects how well they achieve a burger-y consistency. For example, one of the biggest problems I’ve found with burgers, patties and falafel is that they require a certain amount of cooking so that they stick together, but they also are vulnerable to drying out, especially in the oven. Through trial and error, I’ve come up with two remedies to this: my burger mix is always fairly wet, and I always bake them in a very hot oven so that the outside crisps up and the middle stays moist.
I got the inspiration for these burgers from a blog called ‘Veggies on the Counter’, which uses the brown rice method. The recipe can be found here, but mine is quite different, with a larger range of ingredients, yet a simplified method of preparation. I have also added some courgette (discards from a spiralizing session in preparation for courgette noodles) and included the beetroot stalks so as not to waste them.
In terms of the reception of these burgers, Rich’s response was that they were the ‘meatiest’ non-meat burgers he’d every had. I think that’s a compliment (or a slightly backhanded one?), and possibly shows how they’re a good bet if you’re trying to impress/convert a meat-eating audience. I think they allow the beetroot to shine through and although there are some other big flavours- tamari, spring onions, garlic, chilli- it isn’t packed so full of spices that it detracts from the sweet, earthy leading role here.
Also, how pretty are they?!
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 250g beetroot (bulbs)
- 100g beetroot stalks/leaves
- 180g courgette
- 300g leftover cooked rice (150g uncooked rice*)
- 100g tahini
- 100g gluten-free flour (or plain flour or rice flour..)
- 75g spring onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 30g parsley
- 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tbsp agave (or any liquid sweetener)
- 3/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- Place the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray and put in a 160 degrees C oven for about 10 minutes, until nicely toasted.
- Prepare the beetroot by giving them a good scrub, and chopping off the top and bottom knobbly bits. Cut in to chunks (no need to peel) and throw in a food processor.
- Add all the remaining ingredients (including the pumpkin seeds), and process the mixture until everything is minced up and combined.
- Now form in to small-ish patties and place on a greased baking sheet.
- Cook at 200 degrees C for 30 minutes. The best thing about these burgers is that they're great reheated, so your best bet is to cook them in the oven after you make them, and then reheat them when required on the barbecue.
- *Leftover rice works best as it is drier than freshly boiled. If you don't have leftover rice, use uncooked and boil according to packet instructions. When it is cooked and drained, lay it out on a baking tray and place in a 160 degrees C oven for 10-15 minutes, until some of the moisture has been cooked off.