Smoky Beet Burgers with Feta, Grilled Pineapple and Crunchy Slaw
Topped with grilled pineapple and a crunchy slaw, these scarlet burgers, chock full of feta and smoky spice, are an absolute riot of color, flavor and texture and a perfect way to kick off the summer.
celebration • main dish • summer
I’ve eaten a good deal of veggie burgers that have both the taste and consistency of a cardboard box.
Yes you slather them in ketchup and mustard and top them up with pickles and tomatoes, but in my humble opinion, a veggie burger should be able to hold its own. Because let’s face it; the last thing you want as a vegetarian at a grill out is a burger that inspires pity.
Beet is a great starting point for a veggie burger because there is something just so earthy and inherently meaty about it. I mean, look at the color! It’s the only vegetable capable of making your cutting board look like the site of a massacre.
Pair that sweet, earthy beet with the salty, creamy, tang of feta and you are speaking my language. Add a top note of smoky spice and a subtle hint of cumin and the burger just seems to sing
But the flavor is only half of the package. The texture has to deliver as well. It needs to have that toothsome bite to it; a meatiness for lack of a better adjective. It needs to be moist but not so much so that is squidges out the sides of the bun when you take a bite. Lastly, it needs to have a little bit of crispness and that golden brown magic where the pan has seared.
You could certainly make just the patties and enjoy these on a bun with your usual menagerie of condiments and toppings. But I figure, if you are going to have a burger you, then you ought to have a burger; pull out all the stops, go the full nine-yards and any other turn of phrase you care to mention.
In a deli I used to work at once upon a time, an expat woman from Austrilia told me that in her native country, it was customary to serve burgers topped with pinapple rings, pickled beets and fried eggs. Well you know I had to try that. Turns out the Aussies were really on to something. The burger, beet, pineapple combo is something of a game changer and is the very inspiration for this recipe. Also, it just seems the perfect way to kick off the first days of summer. If you want to throw a fried egg on top too, you have my full approval.
Smoky beet burgers with feta, grilled pineapple and crunchy slaw
Total Time 1 hour
For the patties:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 beet (215 g - 250 g), peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup (130 g) almond flour
1 cup (75 g) oats
1/3 cup (60 g) ground flaxseed
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
4 oz (125 g) feta cheese, crumbled
For the pineapple:
1 pineapple, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
For the slaw:
1/2 small red cabbage
1/2 small green cabbage
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
For the burger assembly:
8 burger buns
lettuce leaves of your choosing
condiments of your choosing: mayo, mustard, ketchup, etc.
Preparing the patties:
Start by caramelizing your onion, as this will take a little time. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the onion, turn the heat down just a little, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the onions are broken down, glossy and a light golden color.
While the onions are cooking, place your peeled and roughly chopped beet into a food processor and blitz until you've reduced the beet down into what looks like very finely grated beet.
When your onions have caramelized, take them off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then add them to the food processor along with the oats, almond flour, ground flax, smoked paprika, cumin and salt. Blitz again until you have a thick puree.
Add the chickpeas and the feta cheese and pulse a few times just to incorporate them into the mix. You don't want to completely blend them, so proceed cautiously with the pulse button.
Place the mixture in a covered container and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking. This will allow the patties to really firm up and makes them easier to cook.
Preparing the pineapple:
You can often find prepared pineapple rounds at your grocery store, but don't fear if you come home with a whole pineapple. You can find a great tutorial here on how to do it. You want to slice your pineapple into half moons or segments about 1/4 inch thick.
To grill, preheat your grill to medium high heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill each slice 3-5 minutes per side, until you've got some nice char marks and the fruit has softened.
Alternately, you can cook the pineapple on a griddle pan or simply brown it in a frying pan. Add a tablespoon of oil a pan over moderate heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fruit and cook 5-8 minutes per side, or until the edges have started to turn golden and the fruit is soft.
Preparing the slaw:
Slice or shred the cabbage very thinly. You can do this using the shredding attachment on your food processor, using a mandoline, or you can do it by hand using a very sharp knife and cutting as thinly as you can manage.
Add the cabbage, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix together well using your hands. Check for seasoning and adjust as you see fit.
Cooking the patties:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper.
Form the mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick and roughly the diameter of your burger buns.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once it is nice and hot, add 2 or 3 patties (depending on what you can comfortably fit). Brown the first side for a good 5 minutes, then flip and continue to brown the second side for another 3-5 minutes, until you have a nice crispy crust.
As the burgers finish, transfer them to the baking tray. Once you've browned all the burgers, place them into the oven for 20 minutes to cook the middles.
Lightly toast the buns. Spread each side lightly (or liberally, depending on your preference) with mayo. Place a burger on the bottom bun, top with 2 slices of pineapple, a scoop of slaw, a few lettuce leaves and another other condiments or toppings you desire. Enjoy!
These burgers freeze really well.
The burgers can be grilled instead if you like. Instead of pan cooking them, just throw them directly into the oven for 20 minutes. When you are ready to grill, oil the grates and then cook for 3-5 minutes per side.
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