Sunday, 27 September 2009

Roasted Beetroot Tofu Burgers

Once upon a time in Australia, before we had heard of golden arches and shopping malls, burgers were bought at fish and chip shops. Our true-blue, dinky-di, you-beaut burger came with a charred patty of minced meat, lettuce, tomato, fried egg, fried onions beetroot and tomato sauce. It was ugly greasy and messy. Or burgers were cooked on the barbecue and served with a garden salad, potato salad and beetroot. The beetroot came from a tin and was bound to fall on your lap but it was just part of life.

These days a fortune is spent convincing us just how good burgers can look but as The Guardian illustrates, there is a huge gap between the advertising and the reality (more pics can be found here). I like my burgers messy and honest, which is probably why I still love beetroot with a burger. But I can do without beetroot in my lap. So I was delighted to see Susan’s Roasted Beet Tofu Burgers on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen last week. It seemed a great idea to put the beetroot in the burger rather than in a slippery slice on top of it.

I went to the supermarket and bought the ingredients but forgot to check the quantities. Hence my changes to the burger started with much less tofu than Susan’s. Then I omitted onion, increased the garlic, forgot the smoked paprika, and found I didn’t need the salt.

I also added purple corn flour. This is my newest discovery from last week’s excursion to WholeFoods. It is not a corn starch or a polenta but like a wheat flour made out of corn. I tried it in some dodgy crackers and it was gray rather than purple but I was undaunted. I thought it would go well in these burgers to make them a little darker but still contributing to the purple colour, without taking away any of their vegan, gluten free, nut free credibility. I am aware that not everyone is lucky enough to have this flour so I would advice trying other flours or even breadcrumbs if your pantry lacks purple corn flour.

Susan said her burgers were a tad crumbly but these held together nicely, no doubt thanks to the corn flour. I couldn’t help admiring the brilliant pink of hers but mine were a deep purple, a bit like the moody older sister of the bright youngsters. (Hers was the little girl with pink, sparkly fairy princess wings and bouncy pig tails who is all excited about going to the park to play – la la la – whereas mine was the sulky teenager with jet black hair and too much eyeliner who mooches about in her bedroom surrounded by deep purple velvet and candleholders made of skulls – I’m not goth, I’m emo – meh!)

The burgers were delicious and were happily devoured. One burger each was enough for a dinner surrounded by a cheerful and varied spread of vegetables. The first night I served them with tomato, cucumber, fried eggplant, fried zucchini, rocket, pesto yoghurt and Turkish bread. I piled my plateful between the slabs of Turkish bread and enjoyed a hearty messy burger. The next night we had tomato, cucumber, rocket, red pepper, broccoli, chutney and Turkish bread. These are not dense heavy burgers. They are light on calories and high on colour and nutrition. Just like all burgers should be.

Roasted Beetroot Tofu Burgers
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Makes 4-6

  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 250g firm tofu, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp purple corn flour (or other flour or breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp cayenne pepper or smoked paprika (optional)
  • oil spray

Preheat oven to 220 C. Wrap each beetroot separately in foil. Cut the top off the garlic and wrap in foil. Roast beetroot and garlic on tray in the oven. After about 30 minutes remove the garlic. Leave the beetroot in for another 20-40 minutes. Check if cooked by using an oven mitt to squeeze the beetroot to see if it has softened. Once cooked, remove from oven and cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients in a food processor.

Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skin. Trim ends off cooked beetroot and use your hands to rub the skin off. Add to food processor with other ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Check seasoning and add a little extra flour (or breadcrumbs) if required. It will be quite soft.

Line an oven tray with baking paper or grease well. Take handfuls and shape into round burgers (it should make about 4-6 burgers) and place on prepared tray. Spray with oil.

Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes. Use an eggflip to turn over burgers midway through cooking and spray the other side with oil. They are ready when they have browned slightly and firmed up a little.

On the stereo:

The Strawbs by Choice
: the Strawbs


  1. I love beetroot with burgers. See how Australian I have become? (joking!)

    That burger looks so delicious! And the color? Just awesome!

  2. Tee hee, those comparison photos are great (and sadly very true!) Your burger looks fabulous!

  3. Lovely colour and it looks really substantial. I'm with you on this one: moody teenager with jet black hair! Nice to have some variation now and again.

  4. Original recipe! That is the first time I hear about beetroot with burgers. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. This looks so good! I'm excited to hear that using the corn flour made them hold together better than mine did. I'm going to have to see if I can find it here.

  6. I saw that recipe on Susan's blog and also thought, "I must make these!" While I liked the color of the brilliant pink, I think the moody teenagers you made do look more like a standard burger. Now I REALLY must make these!

  7. These look yum. I actually have a couple of Beets on my bench, wondering what I was going to do with! I'll be trying this recipe! Thanks

  8. Thanks Anh - you most definitely are a true aussie if you love beetroot with burgers :-)

    Thanks Vegetaton - you sound like you have some kids imitating these burgers :-)

    Thanks Mangocheeks - love some variation in my burgers

    Thanks Karine - it is worth trying beetroot in burgers! but I am sure other roast vegies would work in the recipe too

    Thanks Susan - the cornflour seemed to help but I also used less tofu so am not sure how this altered the consistency

    Thanks Ricki - hope you get to make these - they are really worthwhile

    Thanks Maybelle's Mum

  9. Wow the beetroot has made them such a fabulous colour. Look yummy

  10. Interesting! I must have beetroot in my burger-I absolutely insist on it and it's never the same without it but yes having a purple stain on your clothes is something you can definitely do without!

  11. Mmmm, I love the idea of roasted beet burgers!! They sound heavenly!! I am SO excited about the purple corn flour, too - I can't wait to find some so I can make purple cornbread! Hooray! Thank you for introducing me to the purple flour!

  12. Thanks Katie - always love beetroot colour except when on my clothes

    Thanks Lorraine - hate beetroot stain on clothes but is worth the risk because it tastes great

    Thanks Astra - hope you find some purple cornflour - would love to see you use it in cornbread

  13. I made these last night and served them with a simple salad, and I must say we all, very much enjoyed them. I couldn't get the purple cornflour so I used the rice crumbs that I had in my pantry, and that was the only change I made. When I shop next in Melbourne I'll try and find the purple cornflour, just to see what it's like and how to use it.

  14. Thanks Claudia - glad they were enjoyed - hope you find the purple cornflour (but so far my experiments with it haven't given great colour - will be interested to hear how you go)

  15. First time here....Mmmmm...Thats the first time I heard of Beetroot healthy could that btwn..lovely pic of peacock as well....

  16. I love beets and love the sound of them in burgers! Delicious.

  17. Thanks A-Z - welcome to the blog - am glad you discovered the beetroot burger!

    Thanks Ashley - you will love these then!

  18. A surly burger, eh?! It sounds as though they tasted good though - and the purple cornmeal must have added to their goth credentials. Does it have the same texture as normal cornmeal - do you think that would be a good substitute?

  19. Thanks Lysy - the purple cornflour has a texture closer to wheat flour than cornstarch or cornmeal - I would advice plain flour or cornflour as a substitute because cornmeal might be a bit heavy in this burger - although depends on the texture you are after

  20. These are SO good! I added sunflower seeds, walnuts, and raw cashew nuts, and they are sensational. Thanks for your recipes!


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