Beetroot Burgers with BBQ Seitan

2 Oct

Feeding people is one of the things in life that makes me happiest – a bumper sticker on my fridge reads, “love people – cook them tasty food.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This meal was pulled together out of a desire to do just that.

It could also be titled “gluten-free burger piled with saucy gluten.”  This little number snuck in right before our trial gluten-free diet.  And the seitan was incredible.  It is probably the most realistic of meat substitutes and it is a cinch to make (though it takes lots of inactive cooking time). But it is most certainly not gluten-free.  If you haven’t heard of seitan before, it is a vegetable protein commonly used to make fake meat – and it is made out of gluten.  Yes – straight wheat gluten.  In fact, the recipe calls for “vital wheat gluten flour.”  And it rocks – but I will have to wait a couple more months before I gluttonously eat that meaty wheat meat again.

Frankly though, the seitan didn’t compare to the beet burger and the BBQ sauce.  The raw burger looked pretty meaty itself (hubby exclaimed that it looked like raw meat when he came in) and though it didn’t taste meaty, it held its own with its nutty texture.  Made with quinoa and millet, it is packed with protein – the beets however, are what give it a slightly sweet taste and its lovely, bloody color.

The BBQ sauce was my favorite, but I can only give you a skeleton of a recipe.  Not because I am hoarding a super secret family recipe (though this might have to become one – it was good enough to bottle), but because I just threw it together, tasting as I added ingredients, until I had it – rich, slightly sweet and with a big spicy kick. You’ll have to do your best with my ingredient list and your tongue to guide you.

Makes 8 burgers.



1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup millet, rinsed
can white beans, drained
7 small beets, peeled (or 3 medium)
1 carrot, peeled
head of garlic
2 eggs (possibly more)
cayenne pepper


Slice top off of head of garlic.  Drizzle with oil and wrap in foil.  Bake at 400 until soft, approximately 30 mins.

Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water.  Add quinoa and millet, cover, and turn to simmer for 15 minutes or until white threads begin to show.  Drain and return to pot.  Cover with clean cloth and put lid back on – let sit 10 minutes and then fluff with fork.

When garlic is soft, puree with white beans.  Place with quinoa in large bowl.

Grate carrots and beets -this is where a food processor comes in handy.  (I wore gloves when handling the beets – I didn’t feel like pink hands.)  Add grated vegetables to grain mixture.  Stir and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Add eggs.  If it is too dry to form patties easily, add another egg.

Form patties and put in the fridge – this will help them hold together when cooking.  You can also freeze them between wax paper at this point.

When you are ready to cook them, heat a skillet (I prefer cast-iron) on medium low heat.  Add a bit of oil to the pan and a burger or two.  Let cook for about 5 minutes, until golden, and then flip and repeat.  Keep burgers warm in the oven (at about 250) while you cook the remaining burgers.  You can also melt cheese on them at this point, if you like cheese. Which most people do.

Enjoy. Bunless or bun-filled.



1 c vital wheat gluten
tsp thyme
tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 T soy sauce
6 cups vegetable broth (I use Better than Bouillon) or water, 3/4 cup reserved
liquid smoke


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together wheat gluten and spices.  In a measuring cup, mix 3/4 cup broth (water) and  soy sauce.  Mix into wheat gluten.  This will become difficult quickly.  Turn out onto clean surface and knead 10-15 times.  It will look disgusting. Let rest for a few minutes.  Then knead a few more times.  Cut the weird gloppy mass into four pieces and then pull each piece until they are about 1/2″ thick.

In a large stock pot, put remaining broth, 2 teaspoons liquid smoke and a couple squirts of sriracha.  Add seitan and simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Seitan should expand quite a bit.

You can freeze any pieces you want at this point.  Otherwise, take each hunk of weird meat substance (I know, it doesn’t sound or look appetizing now, but believe me, it tastes good) and slice thinly.  You will simmer this in whatever sauce you want (or use it wherever you might add meat).  I simmered it in the BBQ sauce.

BBQ Sauce:


small can tomato paste
dollop of mollasses
a couple squirts of honey
cayenne pepper
liquid smoke
chili powder


Whisk together ingredients and taste as you go.  When you have something incredible, add the seitan and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Or just douse everything in it.


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