Did anyone miss the news that many store-bought, soy-based veggie burgers have been found to contain hexane? Did we need another reason to make our own veggie burgers? I didn’t think so, but it can’t hurt to coax the flame every now and then.
This burger is an admittedly kooky one. The inspiration—need I even explain?—comes from the French chef I work for part-time. He jokingly suggested beet tartare when I was coming up with recipe ideas, at which point I didn’t hear him correctly and thought he was misunderstanding the concept of vegetarianism. But when he finally got through to me, it seemed like a fun idea. To my surprise, it’s a pretty tasty veggie burger, too (though not exactly tartare, since the beets get cooked). I haven’t yet found a way around the egg whites; if anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.
You can cook these in any sized heat-safe cup you have on hand—1/3 or 1/2 cup sized heat-safe measuring cups, for example, cooking the patties in batches—but a 4-0unce ramekin is ideal. It’s also worth mentioning that beet “tartare” is the only recipe in the book that benefits from a microwave. The gist of the technique is that you cook the beets, then chop them up, pack them into ramekins with a the mild binder, cook the cups, and then pop them out. A microwave makes the cooking a snap, but if you don’t have one or are otherwise adverse to the idea, you can steam them, as explained below. There isn’t much to this recipe besides the beets, so I consider this one more of an elegant starter than as a center-of-the-plate dish.
Makes 5 or 6 servings
5 medium beets, scrubbed clean and trimmed of stems and fibrous roots
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg white
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon potato starch or cornstarch
6 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional fresh tarragon leaves and
minced shallot for garnish
Roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets on a square of aluminum foil and rub with the oil. Wrap tightly in the foil. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until completely tender. Cool completely. Peel the beets and chop into small dice—approximately 1/8-inch.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, shallot, vinegar, tarragon, and potato starch. Fold in the diced beets.
Line the bottom of each (4-ounce) ramekin with a small circle of parchment paper. Using your fingers, grease the sides of each ramekin and its parchment with a bit of olive oil. Pack each ramekin with the beet mixture, leveling off the top for a flat surface. Depending on the size of your beets, you will have enough to fill either 5 or 6 ramekins.
Cover each ramekin with microwave-safe plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute until firmed. Alternatively, steam the ramekins: Bring 1/2 inch water to a simmer in a stockpot or saucepan with a colander or steaming basket insert. In batches if necessary, add the ramekins, cover, and steam the beet “burgers” for 3 minutes, until the mixture congeals.
Let the ramekins cool to room temperature. (At this stage they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Run a thin, sharp knife around the perimeter of a ramekin to loosen the beet mixture and invert onto a serving plate. It will come out in a
single patty-shaped piece. Remove the parchment. Repeat with the remaining ramekins.
To serve, top each “burger” with 1 tablespoon of goat cheese and black pepper to taste. Garnish with a few sprigs of tarragon and some minced shallot.