Baby food offers a key assist to these cool veggie burger

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(Photo: AP)

A homemade veggie burger is a welcome alternative to beef_at least in theory. But too many are either mushy or dry and lack flavor.

For a modern burger with superior composition, we stepped beyond run-of-the-mill bean patties and combined pinto beans with sweet, earthy beets, rich walnuts, and chewy bulgur.

This not only delivered fantastic texture and flavor, but amassed an enviable nutritional profile for a burger: protein and fiber from beans, minerals and vitamins from the bulgur and beets, and omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts. Carrot baby food (conveniently pureed) provided an unconventional but effective binder that lent the patties a subtle sweetness. Any brand of plain carrot baby food will work here.

Use a coarse grater or the shredding disk of a food processor to shred the beet. When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time. Serve these burgers with favorite burger fixings.


Servings: 8

Start to finish: 1 hour

Salt and pepper

2/3 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed

1 large beet (9 ounces), trimmed, peeled, and shredded

3/4 cup walnuts

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed

1 (4-ounce) jar carrot baby food

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 1/2 cups 100 percent whole-wheat panko bread crumbs

6 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil, plus extra as needed

Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Off heat, stir in bulgur, cover, and let stand until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain bulgur, spread onto rimmed baking sheet, and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, pulse beet, walnuts, basil, and garlic in food processor until finely chopped, about 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add beans, carrot baby food, water, mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and pulse until well combined, about 8 pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in panko and cooled bulgur.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 F. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and pack into 3 1/2-inch-wide patties.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay 4 patties in skillet and cook until crisp and well browned on first side, about 4 minutes. Gently flip patties and cook until crisp and well browned on second side, about 4 minutes, adding extra oil if skillet looks dry.

Transfer burgers to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining 3 tablespoons oil and remaining patties. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 306 calories; 159 calories from fat; 18 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 9 g protein.