I have made vegan burgers with just about every ingredient combination you can imagine (beans, mushrooms, rice, lentils, tempeh, TSP, nuts/seeds, gluten, etc.) and the texture is always off. They are very flavorful but they tend to be either mushy, gummy, crumbly, or dry and so when I saw these Beet Sliders featured on Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives the other day, I knew that I had to make them for the 49ers vs. Seahawks game yesterday. (Just a side note--bummed that the 9ers lost...:-(, but go Denver--I like Payton Manning--he's a classy guy!) Did you happen to notice that my sliders are the same colors as the 49ers uniforms...:-)!
Anyway, back to the sliders. I served these with two sauces: a Dill-Green Goddess Aioli and a Tarragon-Spicy Mustard Aioli. The dill aioli was the favorite, but the tarragon-mustard was a close second--such a classic combination. To make the aioli dressings I used 1/2 cup Vegenaise and a 1/4 cup sour cream in each bowl. I then added finely minced dill, green onion and parsley to one bowl, and finely minced tarragon and spicy brown mustard to the other bowl. I added fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to each and whisked until smooth.
For the sliders, I purchased beets that were about 3" in diameter, all about the same size and I poached them in a liquid made up of: water, diced onion, carrots, celery, garlic cloves, fresh dill, fresh thyme, bay leaf, coriander seed, caraway seed, black peppercorns, and salt. I simmered them for about 1-1/2 hours until tender, let them cool, peeled them and with a 2-1/2" cookie cutter cut them the same size 1/4" thick. Before serving, I seared them in olive oil, salt and pepper, which gave them a great texture.
The most difficult part about these sliders was locating the perfect size and textured bun. I went to Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Safeway and Lucky's and I purchased three different bags of buns, which are now taking up my freezer. I wanted them the exact size of my beets, but I didn't want the bread to be too dense. It all worked out and the beet to bun ratio was perfect!
Finally, I shaved red onion very thin on a mandolin and topped each slider with onion, arugula and aioli of choice. I was thinking about serving them with fries but went with the crispy onion stings. I used one large sweet Maui onion (serves 2-3 people), shaved thinly on a mandolin and set up a dredging station (wet: 2 cups almond milk with 1/4 cup hot sauce, dry: 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, salt and pepper). Using a candy thermometer, I heated 1 qt canola oil to 380 degrees and deep fried the onion strings until golden brown, drained on paper towels and sprinkled with sea salt!
These were so yummy and so easy to make that I will probably never go back to making burgers the other way!