Smoky Beet Burgers

Smoky Beet Burgers

I love serving these vibrant burgers nestled into a seedy bun with sliced avocado, a few greens, and an easy herbed yogurt sauce (rough “recipe” below). You could really take these burgers to the next level with sauteed mushrooms and melted cheese, but as Luisa mentions, you can also eat them more like latkes or falafel. The burger mix itself can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, and the cooked burgers stay good for up to four days, covered and refrigerated.

Recipe barely adapted from Louisa Shafia’s The New Persian Kitchen


For the Burgers:

1 yellow onion
3 tablespoons grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup peeled and grated beets (approximately 1 medium beet)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1/2 cup cooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice or white sushi rice, room temperature
2 eggs
whole grain buns, to serve (optional)
sliced avocado, to serve (optional)
greens, to serve (optional)

For the Herbed Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I like runnier, European-style best for this)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like chives, dill, or thyme
pinch kosher salt


Slice the onion to a thickness of 1/4 inch. In a medium skillet, saute the onions in the oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until they start to darken and caramelize. Reduce the heat slightly and add the beets along with the garlic, walnuts, raisins, and paprika, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a food processor and pulse several times until chunky (you still want it a little chunky here). Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and fold in the lentils, salt and pepper.

Replace the food processor (no need to rinse it!), add the rice and eggs, and pulse to form a coarse puree. Scrape the rice mixture into the bowl with the onion-lentil mixture and mix well.

Lightly oil your hands and divide the dough into 8 -10 portions just under 1-inch thick.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom. Place the burgers in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Very gently flip the burgers and turn down the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the burgers have a firm, brown crust.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, herbs and salt. Serve burgers with your favorite accompaniments – I love sliced avocado, a few greens and a generous spread of yogurt sauce.