Root vegetables are a firm favourite with my kids. My son particularly loves parsnips and raw carrots, and the baby girl adores beetroot and sweet potatoes. I usually cut an assortment into batons, toss in olive oil and simply roast in the oven until crispy and crunchy (best with parsnips), and they really enjoy them that way. But with my little ones, it’s important to keep things interesting so they don’t get bored and start rejecting the food (as much as they liked it before). Cooking the humble but nutritious veggies this way is a fun and novel alternative, and my cheeky daughter thoroughly enjoys getting dirty and messy eating the patties with her hands.
The key in cooking these is that you allow them to brown and crisp up nicely before flipping them over. Browning these patties properly not only improves their flavour, but it also holds the patties together a lot better and this helps when flipping them. Also, I like to keep the bowl tilted as I work, so that the excess liquid in the vegetables drain out, and I don’t end up steaming the veggies on the pan instead of frying.
I often hear people proclaim their dislike for beetroot, be it because of its startling colour or its strong flavour. It was funny to see adults turn their noses when they saw my baby girl enjoying her lurid red purees (her favourite combo was butternut squash, apple and beet). This recipe is a happy departure from the boiled, tinned beets that one might recall having had as a child. The other vegetables mellow the earthiness of the beets and caramelisation from pan-frying intensifies its sweetness. So please give this anti-oxidant packed vegetable at least one shot. Otherwise, parsnips and potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, will work well too. I kept the seasoning simple here, but if you’re adventurous, feel free to add a pinch of cumin and cayenne pepper and grate in a clove of garlic to spice things up.
These patties are best served hot from the pan, piled high with avocado, rocket leaves and dolloped with Greek yogurt. You could also go luxe and drape ribbons of smoked salmon over top, or be more generous with the seasonings and have one large pattie as a veggie burger between slices of focaccia, with some crunchy lettuce and melted cheese.
Root Vegetable Patties (makes about 8)
1 medium beetroot, about 250g, peeled and finely grated
1 sweet potato, finely grated (I use Aussie Gold and try to leave as much of the skin on as possible)
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
3 spring onions, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground coriander
a grind of black pepper
1-2 tbsp flour (use any you like, I chose spelt)
olive oil for cooking
In a large bowl, mix the root vegetables with the egg, spring onions and seasonings.
Add the flour one tablespoonful at a time, just to bind everything together.
Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil on medium-high heat.
Plop compacted tablespoonfuls of the root vegetable mix onto the hot pan, flatten them with the back of a spatula, and leave to fry for at least 3-minutes.
Once browned, flip them over and continue to cook until browned on other side.
Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and consume immediately. Or you may keep them warm in an oven until ready to serve.