Once again, I’m playing host here in Buenos Aires (this time, to Andrew’s parents instead of mine). And, although it’s easy for people to eat out for every meal when on vacation, I think there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal after a long plane ride or a day of sight-seeing. These quinoa, beet, and black bean burgers are more complicated than many bean burgers, but the different components can be cooked ahead of time, and the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week before being formed into patties. This makes them ideal for serving to guests – I did all the legwork ahead of time and just had to fry up some patties and toast some buns to have dinner on the table. Of course, they’re not just convenient – they also have amazing color, flavor, and texture, and I have to give most of the credit to the beets. I would never have guessed that finely diced beets would make such a great base for a veggie burger, but their earthy flavor and firm texture are perfect here. I always like to add chia seeds to my cooked quinoa, so I went ahead and did it here, too, with the added benefit of the chia seeds helping to bind the burger, eliminating the need for an egg (though if you’re having trouble keeping your patties together, you can always still add in an egg to help). I balanced everything with some rehydrated dates, for sweetness, and lemon juice, for tartness, and couldn’t help tossing in some smoked paprika as well (you can use a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo instead for similar smokiness with a spicy kick). These burgers (which can also be formed into balls and used in place of meatballs or on top of a salad) are so flavorful that they barely need any toppings – but I went ahead and added halved cherry tomatoes and pickled red onions for a little fresh crispness.
Quinoa, Beet, and Black Bean Burgers (adapted from The Kitchn)
Yield: about 6 burgers
- 4 dried dates, pitted*
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb beets, diced small**
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 (15-ounce) can, drained and rinsed)
- 1/4 cup quick oats***
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped****
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper, to taste
*You can substitute with prunes or raisins.
**You can also shred the beets, if you prefer.
***Old-fashioned oats will also work (though not quite as well), as will plain flour (you probably will only need half as much). Oats are gluten-free, but many are processed on the same equipment as wheat, so make sure to check the label if you can’t eat gluten.
- In a small bowl, cover 4 dried dates, pitted with boiling water, and let sit until rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Drain, then finely chop the dates, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pot, combine 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well with 1 cup water and 1/4 tsp kosher salt, then bring to a boil.
- Lower heat, and let simmer, covered, until the quinoa has absorbed all the broth, about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat, stir in 2 Tbsp chia seeds, then set aside, and let sit, covered.
- Meanwhile, in a large sautee pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then sautee 1 onion, diced until translucent and starting to darken, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in 1 lb beets, diced small, cover, and let cook until the beets are very tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid, add 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme, and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and cook, scraping to deglaze the pan, until the vinegar has reduced slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, beets, and dates with 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 (15-ounce) can, drained and rinsed), 1/4 cup quick oats, 2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped, juice from 1/2 lemon, and salt and pepper, to taste. Mash together with a potato masher or wooden spoon, then mix well. Taste, and adjust the spicing, if needed. Add extra oats, if the mixture seems too wet and doesn’t hold together. You can make the burgers immediately or refrigerate the mix for up to a week (the refrigeration makes the patties slightly easier to shape as well).
- When ready to make the patties, use dampened hands to shape the mixture into your desired size and shape (burgers, smaller patties, balls, etc).
- Fry in a skillet with a little vegetable oil over high heat, until the bottom is darkened and crisped, about 2 – 4 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is darkened and crisped, another 2 – 4 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 425 degrees until thoroughly heated with the outside darkened and crisped, about 15 – 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.