beet falafel burgers with beet greens and hazelnut pesto

Let me start off by telling you that falafel and beets live in my favorite food bucket. I am not kidding when I tell you that for a good year, I'd have beets for lunch every day. And never got sick of them. Which is funny, because when I was little, my mom fed me so much beet juice I actually despised beets up until I was 21. And falafel goes without saying, I can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This recipe combines my adoration for both, minus the deep fried-ness of falafel, but with a world of possibilities. This beet falafel burger is wonderful because you can have it with pita and the falafel fix-ins, or on a burger bun á la veggie burger with cheese, or on a bed of greens. The beet greens and hazelnut pesto is reminiscent of the spicy green chili paste that tends to accompany falafel and also prevents waste. Beet greens are an incredible source for iron, protein, vitamins and minerals (in fact, I recommend to always try to get beets with their tops on, cook and eat them!) You should definitely try this recipe, even my boyfriend who doesn't get that excited over anything veggies couldn't control his excitement for these. Enjoy these beet falafel burgers your way! 

beet falafel burgers

makes 3 burgers 

ingredients: 

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup red onion, roughly chopped, about 1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup parsley
½ cup cilantro
½ cup mint
¾ cup beet, cooked, roughly chopped, about 1 medium beet *
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained well (or 1 ½ cups chickpeas, cooked) 
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 ½ teaspoons salt
pepper, to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet. Once hot, add onion, season and cook until translucent 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook until fragrant 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

In the bowl of a food processor, process oats until the consistency of a fine flour, place in a small bowl and set aside. Add parsley, cilantro, and mint and process until finely chopped. Add beets and chickpeas and pulse a few times until chopped, but not mushy. Transfer to a medium bowl and add sesame seeds, salt, pepper and reserved oatmeal flour. Mix until well incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour or overnight. Meanwhile make the beet green pesto, recipe below. 

When ready to cook, heat a medium skillet over medium-high and add olive oil. To form the burgers, scoop about  ½ cup of the mix and shape the burgers in between your palms about ¾- inch thick. Once oil is hot, add burgers to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Lower heat to low and cook another 2-3 minutes to warm through. 


beet greens and hazelnut pesto 

Makes about ½ cup 

ingredients: 

2 cups beet greens, roughly chopped, from about 1 bunch
1 garlic clove
¼ cup hazelnuts
¼ cup Parmesan
Zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Aleppo-style pepper or red pepper flakes (if you'd like less of a kick, do ¼ teaspoon) 
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Combine all ingredients minus the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. 

* To cook beets, either roast at 400°F, wrapped in aluminum 45-60 minutes or boil them in lightly salted water for the same amount of time. They're ready when easily pierced with a fork. Once cool, peel with a paper towel. 

* Vegan option: swap nutritional yeast for the Parmesan in the pesto.