A lifetime vegetarian friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, has known me since my literal salad days, when I was a vegetarian, too. He sometimes makes snide comments about the fact that I eat meat now. Earlier this year, when he introduced me to the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio, he ordered one of these burgers and seemed surprised when I said, “I’ll have the same.” The truth is, I like veggie burgers better than hamburgers!
I recently found an article in Mother Jones about the world’s best veggie burgers. Given Columbus’ reputation as a cowtown, I was delighted to find a reproduction of the Northstar recipe, originally published by The Kitchn.
1/2 C brown rice
1 T cooking oil
1 onion, chopped very fine
1 lb beets, chopped very fine
4 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane grater
2 T vinegar
1-1/2 C cooked black beans
2 T lemon juice
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1 t ground coriander seed
1 t ground thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T flour
Boil a pot of water and add the rice and salt. Simmer for 40 minutes, until the rice is slightly overcooked. Drain the rice.
In a skillet, heat the cooking oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the beets and cook, covered, until they are soft, stirring them occasionally. Stir in the garlic, then the vinegar.
While the rice and beets are cooking, mash the drained beans in a large bowl. When the rice and beets are done, stir them into the beans along with the lemon juice, the olive oil, and the spices. Adjust the salt and pepper and spices to your taste, then add the flour. If it seems too moist, add a little extra flour.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat and add some cooking oil. Scoop out a cup of the mixture and shape it into a patty. When you place it in the pan, it should sizzle — if it doesn’t, wait before cooking more of the burgers. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes on the first side, until a crust forms. Cook the second side for 2 minutes and serve hot on a fresh bun, topped with cheese or your favorite condiments.
Leftover burger mix can be saved, uncooked in the fridge, for up to a week. Then you can fry up a burger or two and have them hot and fresh.