As I mentioned some time ago, root vegetables season is in full swing. I took profit of this matter of fact to ask my grandmother – who’s very willing to provide me the good Eastern European stuff that I can’t find around here – to send me some parsley root.
Indeed, petrezselyemgyökér as it is called in Hungarian (read “peh-treh-jeh-yem dyuh-care”) is quite a unique vegetable. In spite of its similarities with parsnip, carrot – the Hungarian nickname for it, fehérrépa, means “white carrot” – or even celeriac, I haven’t found a good enough substitute for it so far. So, if you have the chance to get your hands on parsley root, grab some and have a go !
In Hungarian cuisine, it’s basically used without much originality as a ingredient for poultry broth, one of the sacrosanct, inescapable – but not so boring – leves (more to come about this soon). I love the taste of Hungarian soups, of which distinctive features come especially from parsley root, but as long as I haven’t set to growing and harvesting my own in bulk, I prefer using the scarce ones I get in a fancier way. Which leads me to today’s patties/veg burgers.
If I were to become a vegetarian, this dish would be one of those which validate at best such a decision. When I first made these patties, inspired by this recipe (in Hungarian), I’ve been surprised of how meaty they were. Plus, some magic occurs between the ingredients and in the pan that makes them smell and taste very close to fasírt, that is pork patties. They are rich too, and they are crusty and soft at once. I remember my grandma treating us to freshly (deep-)fried garlicky and oniony fasírt for afternoon tea, a couple of years ago, and how awkward it felt to do justice to her cooking. But I don’t think eating these patties for afternoon tea would bother me overmuch ! Even though they are better hot, they actually make a great snack food. Also, last time it occurred to me to turn them into burgers and it turned out beautifully.
Notes: Feel free to adjust the amounts and (spice) contents to your likings. I bet you could also use other veggies, but then the taste would obviously be different. Yet, though the bun I used for making the breadcrumbs was a stale Hungarian bun, any stale bread or even store-bought breadcrumbs would do. The patties hold shape well but in case of worries about it, some starch can be added. This is a vegetarian recipe since it uses egg as a binder, however I guess it can be veganised by substituting some okara and starch to walnuts and egg. Last but not least, I don’t roll the patties in breadcrumbs like fasírt but it would certainly be great too.
Parsley root patties or vegetarian burgers INGREDIENTS About 8 patties, serving 2-3
- 175 gr. parsley root, skinned and grated (about 3 medium-sized roots)
- 60 gr. walnuts, grated
- 1 egg, whole
- 3 handfuls fine breadcrumbs (about 1 bun, grated), or more as needed (~50gr.)
- 1 piece of leek (5-inch long, from the middle part of the stalk), thinly chopped
- ½ tsp cornstarch (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, minced (or substitute ½ tsp powdered garlic)
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- salt to taste
- vegetable oil for frying (olive is a good choice, yet I used sunflower or peanut oils with good results)
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the oil in a mixing bowl. Work them by hand to get a smooth and pliable batter, thick enough to be manipulated easily. Add a bit more breadcrumbs as needed, but do not rest the batter too long since the salt brings out the water content of the veggies. Scoop out some batter (I use an ice cream scoop to get roughly even sized patties) and roll it, then press slightly between your hands to shape it into a thick patty. Do the same with the remaining batter until there’s no leftover.
Preheat a frying pan over low heat. Once it’s well heated, add 1-2 tbsp of oil and swirl the pan to distribute it evenly. Arrange the patties in the pan, leaving room between them (according to the size of your pan you might need to fry them in more batches). Flatten them a bit more with a spatula and adjust the heat so that the inside might cook without having the outside burnt. When the first side is nicely browned, flip the patties over and fry the other side likewise. Drain on paper towel if needed before serving.
Serve as is as an appetizer, first course or even a light meal for 2, with a salad or some dill pickles on the side and/or a dipping sauce of your choice (I like to make a salad with an apple-horseradish-condiment-based vinaigrette on the side, or have it served with this apple-horseradish condiment along with Hungarian-style dill pickles and smoked cheese when I have them on hand). Or, use the patties as burgers, between two halves of a bun with the fillings of your choice (e.g. lettuce, homemade green tomato chutney, and thinly sliced leek white).
They don’t stay crusty outside nor soft inside as they cool down, but you can reheat them in the oven a few minutes to give them their crispness back.
As for the scraps of parsley roots, they shared the same fate as earlier beet ones and well, that seems to definitely confirm the relevancy of the method !