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Beet and Chickpea Cakes with Mint and Lemon Zest

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Here’s a updated savory vegetarian chickpea cake. Perfect as a meal, or the ultimate appetizer.

A vegetarian delight! Easy to prepare with zesty flavors

Who doesn’t love a homemade great veggie burger? These veggie cakes stand on their own, no bun. Crispy on the outside with a soft, creamy interior – perfect for topping or dipping.

Freshly dug beets are wonderful roasted, pureed into soup, and in warmer weather -fabulous grated raw. Their crimson color can add a pop of stained color when combined with legumes.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian this recipe will surprise you with satisfying flavors. Finally, a savory cake that holds together – and can be enjoyed by carnivores who like to add vegetarian meals to their everyday routine.

Make them this size, 3 inch in diameter, which are perfect as a meal with salad, or – try a smaller bite-sized cake for the ultimate hors d’oeuvre.  

These ingredients I almost always have on hand, (with the addition of a bunch of beets from my local farmers’ market) and takes minimal effort to make. It also has loads of protein, which is important for everyone, but especially for those on a plant-based diet.

Beetroot is low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants – a health food titan.
The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson color is betacyanin; a powerful phytochemical (compounds may help prevent diseases.)
Though available year round, beets are sweetest and most tender during their peak season, from June to October.

Chickpeas also offer specific health benefits, and consuming them regularly boosts your intake of a few key nutrients. Fiber is one of the reasons you may want to add chickpeas to your daily meals. They provide you with a vegetarian-friendly source of protein,  a rich source of dietary fiber, and a good dose of manganese,  folate, and a great source of vegetarian iron.

The flavors that give the chickpea cakes marvelous aroma are: lemon zest & juice, sumac, cumin, garlic, shallots and fresh herbs; mint and parsley. And beets too! The freshest beets are simply peeled, grated, and folded into the mashed chickpea mixture. Tired of cleaning kitchen appliances?? – I use a potato masher in a bowl… works swiftly… easy clean-up!

The mixture starts with chickpeas, I use convenient cooked organic chickpeas from a box, and drain the liquid. Please do soak organic chickpeas and cook them ahead if you have the time. Simply mash them with an egg (or chia jell replacement if vegan.) Sauté grated beets with shallots, garlic to soften a bit and develop flavor.

Season with sumac, a Mediterranean ground berry with a purple hue and a tart, peasant flavor – and cumin. Add some lemon zest and juice for a pop of zesty goodness, a little panko crumbs, (I’ve used a nice quality gluten-free variety) – and fresh herbs (mint and parsley.) Your chickpea cakes are ready to pan sear, then bake.

The earthy, sweet flavor of the beets really shines in this recipe… and the color is something fantastic – that just look healthy for you – AND IT IS!!

Pan sear in some extra virgin olive oil, then bake for just 10 minutes until firm. They will not fall apart! Mashing 3/4 of the chickpeas is key to creating a sticky base.. fold in 1/4 of the chickpeas for texture and visual appeal.

The dipping sauce I love is quite simple. Greek yogurt stirred with chopped preserved lemons, sumac, cumin and freshly sliced mint. Preserved lemons are a heavenly, naturally fermented condiment. I have a jar in my fridge I made almost 6 months go. I take a wedge out of the lemon juice/salt solution and chop whenever a recipe needs a boost of tart flavor.

Enjoy,
Karen

The ingredients for the chickpea cakes - look for fresh ruby beets

The beet chickpea cakes ready to bake

Peel a fresh ruby beet, then simply grate it, and squeeze dry

Vegetables are sautéed, chickpeas are mashed, leaving some whole

Ready to serve with a zesty yogurt dipping sauce with luscious preserved lemons

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