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Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers
Sweet and Smoky Beet Burgers Photo courtesy of Sara Remington

With their meaty patties and indulgent condiments (hello, special sauce), burgers don’t often align with our healthy-eating intentions. These scarlet beet patties from The New Persian Kitchen, however, lighten the load by partnering pantry staples such as brown rice and lentils with ruby-red beets, onions, walnuts and raisins. The result is a sweet, earthy patty that’s healthful and delicious to boot. Serve the burgers on whole-grain buns with a dollop of yogurt, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and a mound of fragrant dill. We promise you won’t miss the meat.

Makes 8 burger patties

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil, plus extra for searing

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 cup peeled and grated beets (from about 1 small beet)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup walnuts

½ cup golden raisins

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

½ cup cooked green lentils

2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice, at room temperature

1 egg

1. In a medium skillet, warm the grapeseed or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the beets, garlic, walnuts, raisins and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beets are starting to brown and the walnuts are toasted, about 8 minutes.

3. Transfer the onion-beet mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until chunky. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the lentils, sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.

4. Replace the bowl of the food processor (without washing) and blend the brown rice with the egg until a coarse puree forms. Add the rice mixture to the onion-lentil mixture and mix with your hands until combined. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and shape each one into a patty just under 1 inch thick.

5. In a large cast-iron skillet set over medium heat, warm enough grapeseed or olive oil to coat the bottom. Place the patties in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Gently flip the patties and reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet and cook the patties until they are warmed through and have a firm, golden-brown crust, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the patties from the skillet and serve immediately with desired accompaniments.

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