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Herbed Beet, White Bean and Walnut Burgers with Spicy Romesco Sauce

Herbed Beet, White Bean and Walnut Burgers with Spicy Romesco Sauce

I have a confession. I have only purchased raw beets once in my life. I went through the process of cleaning, peeling and roasting them and now, a year later, I am still finding bright pink splotches of beet in various places in my kitchen. Don't get me wrong, they were delicious and I am all for spending the extra time for fresh ingredients but...I just really don't want to go through that every time I want to use beets. I now buy Love Beets, cooked and vacuum packed regular and baby beets. I find them at both my regular grocery store and Whole Foods in the refrigerated section.  Very convenient, very delicious. If pre-packaged isn't your thing, roast away!

Now for this recipe. As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of various types of veggie burgers, particularly when I am out to eat at non-vegetarian restaurants. One of my favorites comes from a NYC burger joint and they use...you guessed it...beets! I'm sure other places must use beets in their burger, but I have yet to come across another.

Texture of walnuts going into the burgers

When I started creating vegetarian recipes, I knew a delicious beet based burger had to be on my list. I chose to keep it pretty simple and paired it with fresh herbs, cannellini beans and walnuts. I really love walnuts and beets together so I added a walnut based romesco sauce to go with it.  Romesco is a sauce with a nut and red pepper base. I created my own version with walnuts, spicy garlic chili sauce, red wine vinegar, olive oil and tomato paste. The spice balances out the sweetness of the burger.


Herbed Beet, White Bean and Walnut Burgers with Spicy Romesco Sauce
 

Beet, White Bean and Walnut Burgers
Makes 5 patties
Ingredients
5 oz cooked beets, chopped
15 oz canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup toasted walnuts*, cooled
2 cloves of garlic
Handful of fresh baby kale
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Sliced cheese, for serving (I use sharp cheddar or Gruyere)
Hamburger rolls, for serving
Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add toasted walnuts to a food processor and pulse until soft crumbs form - see picture above for an example. Remove from food processor and set aside. With the food processor running, drop in the cloves of garlic and run until finely minced. Turn off and add chopped beets, oregano, thyme and kale to the food processor. Pulse until everything is in small chunks - stop before the beets turn liquidy. Add the beans and continue to pulse until it is combined and there are no large chunks, but stop before it turns completely smooth. You want it to have small chunks with the edges just starting to become a paste**. Empty the contents of the food processor into a large bowl. Stir in the bread crumbs, walnut and flour. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 min. After chilled, form patties on a large baking sheet. I used a 6 tablespoon cookie scoop and shaped them into 1 inch high patties with my hands. Lightly brush the top and sides with olive oil. Carefully flip using a spatula and brush olive oil on the bottom. Add to the preheated oven and cook for 30 min. After 15 min flip each of the burgers and place back in the oven. When there are 5 min remaining, add the slice of cheese, if desired. 
 

Spicy Romesco Sauce
Makes about 1/2 cup
Ingredients
1/2 cup toasted walnuts*, cooled
1/2 tablespoon olive oil (more if you prefer a thinner sauce)
2-3 teaspoons Vietnamese chili garlic sauce***
2 teaspoons tomato paste (I used roasted garlic flavored)
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Salt and peper, for seasoning

Add the walnuts, chili garlic sauce, sherry vinegar and tomato paste to the food processor and process until combined with some small chunks of walnut remaining. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, place the beet burger on the bottom half of the bun. Top with a few baby kale leaves. Spread the spicy romesco sauce on the top half. Enjoy!

* To toast walnuts, place on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 min.
** Getting the texture of the mixture correct is a bit of a balancing act. If you pulse until it is smooth, the patty will have a texture similar to refried beans. If you under pulse, the large chunks won't properly form a patty and it will become too dry in the oven.
*** Found in the international section of your grocery store. http://www.amazon.com/Huy-Fong-Vietnamese-Chili-Garlic/dp/B0006SKCVI






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