1/2 cup black rice
1 T tamari
1 bay leaf
1 small onion or large shallot
1 clove garlic
2 smallish beets
2 T olive oil (more or less)
rosemary, sage, thyme (a pinch of each or a couple leaves if fresh)
splash of wine to deglaze the pan
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cumin powder
splash of balsamic vinegar
1 can pinto beans or black beans
about 1 cup bread crumbs/cracker crumbs or a combination of both
salt and pepper
Cook the rice according to the package instructions, time-wise, but add the bay leaf and Tamara. The kind I’ve been getting lately goes like this: combine the rice with 1 cup water, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until soft but still a little chewy. When it’s done stir in the tamari.
In a food processor combine the onion/garlic and herbs. Process until quite finely chopped, but not puréed. Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions and garlic and herbs and stir and fry until everything starts to brown. Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the beets and then process them in the same fashion (you don’t need to clean the processor in between). Continue to cook and stir the vegetables until the beets are reduced and darkened. Deglaze the pan with a little wine or water. Stir in the spices. You can use any spices you like. The smoked paprika is a constant for me, but sometimes I’ll use a Berbere mix or curry powder, you can add chili powder or cayenne if you like spicy burgers. You can also add corn at this point, frozen or fresh. Add the splash of balsamic and stir it in.
Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Add the beans and smush them with a fork or potato masher. You can leave them with some texture, just smush them a little as you mix them in. I’ve had the best results with pinto beans, but black beans are really good too. They make the burgers a little more piece-y and less cohesive, but they taste great. Add the bread crumbs. I usually use a combination of a slice or two of sandwich bread and saltine crackers, whatever I have on hand. Add the egg (you can leave it out, the burgers will just be a little softer), season with salt and pepper and combine everything.
Preheat the oven to 425 and generously oil a baking sheet. I use olive oil and quite a bit of it, so that the burgers have an oven-fried quality when they’re done.
Form the mixture into patties of whatever size you like and put the on the oiled sheet, flipping them to coat both sides with oil. I like to give them a little squish with the potato masher so they look like they have grill marks. Cook until browned and crispy, maybe 20 minutes, turning a couple of times. You can top them with slices of cheese if you like, towards the end.
I usually make sourdough buns for these, and we have them with tomato, lettuce, avocado, and whatever else we like.