I am not a fan of traditional veggie burgers. A veggie burger, no matter how good, just can’t stand up to a juicy, flavorful, dripping, greasy red beef patty. However, when you view a veggie burger as its own species, instead of a sorry substitute for the real McCoy, you’ll see just how delicious they are in their own right, especially when done creatively. I actually prefer to think about a veggie burger as a type of falafel in order to break the comparison with its carnivorous counterpart.
With my bias in mind, I stumbled upon an incredible recipe for beet sliders that my friend over at A Crust Eaten, who puts out consistently delicious and creative recipes, recommended after adapting her own version from Olive magazine. These burgers are outrageous! Packed with flavor, heat and texture, they stand up to even the harshest of critics. My husband, who will not eat anything without meat in it, said this was his favorite thing that I’ve made this year! Really? The beet burgers? He even called me at work the next day to tell me how awesome they were when he had them again for lunch.
Why have these burgers assumed the mantle of “best dish all year?” The beets are seasoned with an earthy cumin to bolster the flavor of the beetroot and bring out the nuttiness of the chickpeas. They’re spiced with a jalapeño pepper for heat. But, I took it a step further because I wanted this beetroot burger to be packed with flavor. I added some whole coriander seeds, drawing inspiration from falafel and a touch of Spanish smoked paprika to really elevate it to the next level, but making sure not overpower nature. Following the recipe, I had my first experience with halloumi, a grillable sheep and goat cheese combo very popular in Cyprus. It’s similar to mozzarella in flavor, but it won’t melt and it’s often accompanied with mint leaves. This step is key in the construction of the perfect burger. I threw some cilantro in the mixture and added more as a garnish on top. The crowning glory is the spreading of the most delicious hot pepper jam over the top of it. It plays upon the contrast of sweet and heat–the theme that carries this dish to its glorious position– never too much sweet, never too much heat.
My one caveat in making these burgers is that they will leave you looking and feeling like Lady Macbeth, hands red and burning from the beets and the oils from the jalapeños and guilt from eating something so sinfully delicious. Wear it like a badge of honor. We devoured these at midnight last night in celebration of a veggie burger done right.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp corriander
- 2 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 to 4 medium sized beetroots, rinsed and peeled
- 1/2 cup(ish) cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 handful dill (optional)
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs or panko
- 1 egg
- Olive Oil, for cooking (if you choose to grill the burgers. I baked mine.)
- 1 package Halloumi cheese, sliced and halved if necessary to make one piece per slider
- 8-12 small buns, preferably brioche or challah
- Chili or hot pepper Jam or Jelly
Grate beetroot in a food processor. Remove and move to bowl. Pulse chickpeas in food processor until they form a rough paste. In a large bowl, mix together grated beetroot, chickpeas, cumin, coriander, paprika, jalapeño, cilantro, breadcrumbs and egg. Season well and mix until combined.
Form into 12 patties, each one should be slightly smaller than your palm. You can either grill these in a pan or bake them.
To grill: Heat olive oil in a large, shallow frying pan over medium heat. Cook patties for 3-4 minutes each side until crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels if needed.
To bake: Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 25-30 mins.
Meanwhile, dry fry halloumi slices until caramelized on both sides. Assemble sliders with cilantro, arugula, halloumi and chilli jam.