I wanted a super tasty veggie burger that I could sandwich between fulffy buns and top with all the fixings, so I based this formula loosely on a recipe from The Kitchn that was in turn inspired by a well-loved burger from Ohio's Northstar Cafe. I used quinoa in place of the brown rice, and chickpeas instead of the black beans, just because I liked the idea of those ingredients all hanging out together with sauteed beets. A small amount of egg and quick oats gently bind the burgers as they sear in the pan, and they get a bright flavor boost from lemon zest and juice and fresh parsley. They're moist and delicate enough that sandwiching one between a Honey Oat Beer Bun (recipe here: http://www.bojongourmet.com/2013/01/honey-oat-beer-buns.html) doesn't seem terribly like a big starch fest, but they work equally well as croquettes served with a dab of yogurt and a green salad. —Alanna
6 large burgers, or 12-18 small sliders
dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cool water (or 1 [14 ounce] can cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
bay leaf (if using dried chickpeas)
medium-sized red beets (about 10 ounces by weight)
medium yellow onion, finely diced
cloves garlic, minced
finely chopped parsley
zest from half a medium lemon
juice from 1 medium lemon
quick (baby) oats
sunflower oil or coconut oil for frying the burgers
For serving the burgers (optional): 6 buns (such as Honey Oat Beer Buns), halved and toasted, mustard, mayonnaise, avocado, thinly sliced red onion, sprouts
If using dried chickpeas, cook the beans:
Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf. Cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are almost tender. At this point, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Continue cooking until the beans are very tender. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour total, depending on the size and age of the beans. Add water to the pan as needed. When the beans are done, let them cool in their water until needed. If you like, you can slip the loose skins off the beans, though this isn't necessary.
Cook the quinoa:
Place the quinoa in a very fine mesh strainer, place the strainer in a bowl or measuring cup, and fill with water to cover the quinoa. Let soak 5-10 minutes, swishing occasionally, to rinse off the bitter coating. The water will turn a beige-yellow. Drain the quinoa well, discard the soaking water, and place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and let the quinoa steam until tender and all the water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, until ready to use.
Cook the veg:
Peel the beets with a potato peeler, then grate them on the large holes of a box grater. The beets will spray, so wear an apron and have your work area clear of things you don't want covered in tiny red specks. Heat the oil in a wide saute pan (that has a lid that you will use later) over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, the grated beets, and a big pinch of salt. Give it a stir, then cover the pan and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until the beet is tender, 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and deglaze by adding the vinegar and stirring up any good stuff that is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Make the burgers:
In a large bowl, combine the cooked chickpeas, quinoa and beet mixture and mash with a potato masher to break up the beans slightly - the mixture should still be fairly chunky. Stir in the parsley, lemon zest and juice, egg, oats, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined.
Cook the burgers:
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions (a large spring-loaded scoop works well) and shape into 1" thick rounds. Coat the bottom of a wide skillet with oil and heat over a medium flame until the oil shimmers. Carefully add the burger patties. Cook until the first side is golden, 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook on the second side until it is golden and the burger is cooked through, 2-3 minutes, reducing the heat if the burger is browning too quickly.
Serve the burgers on toasted buns slathered in any toppings you like.