Give Your Boring Beets a Glow-up With This Vegan ‘Beef’ Bourguignon Recipe

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Craving a plant-based twist on a classic French dish? Allow me to introduce you to this vegan "beef" Bourguignon

It’s no secret that red beets are a nutritional powerhouse. The tasty root veggies are packed with essential nutrients, like bone-building calcium and immune-boosting vitamin C. But despite their nutrition, they're not as beloved in the healthy eating world as, say, cauliflower or chickpeas thanks to their "sad salad bar" reputation.

That’s why on this week’s episode of Cook With Us, chef and Start Simple author Lukas Volger gives the earthy veggies a glow-up with his vegan spin on a classic French dish: beef Bourguignon.

“There’s a lot of popular vegetarian versions of [beef Bourguignon] using mushrooms,” he says. “Here, we’re using mushrooms because they have that wonderful flavor, but we’re also going to make beets be the stand-in for the beef.”

He boils trimmed, peeled, diced beets in a pot of water to pre-cook them before adding them into the final "beet" Bourguignon. But be careful not to over-cook them, he warns. "In the finished dish, if [the beets are] mushy, they just kind of mush into the sauce," he says. Noted!

The rest of the recipe is stacked with other delicious plants, including two different kinds of mushrooms, a classic mirepoix, hearty lentils, and a vegetable bouillon to help create the earthy, hearty flavor of a classic beef Bourguignon. And of coursea burgundy wine. “This is what makes the dish legit,” he says. “You want one that’s less fruity and more earthy and dry.”

At the very end of cooking, Volger adds back in the cooked, diced beet along with some porcini mushrooms, then serves it all over brown rice. (He says polenta could work, too.)

The final product? A delicious, cozy comfort food that's super healthy—it's high in vegetarian protein, anti-inflammatory antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients across the board. As if you needed more reasons to whip up this tasty meal yourself... 

Want the full recipe? Get Volger's step-by-step instructions here.

Lukas Volger's beet Bourguinon

Serves 4

1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (8 grams)
2 medium beets (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
8 ounces button or crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup dry red wine (ideally from the Burgundy region!)
1/4 teaspoon vegetable bouillon paste (such as Better Than Boullion) or 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube, dissolved in a few teaspoons hot water
1/4 cup black or dark green lentils, rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced parsley for garnish

1. In a tall measuring cup, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with about 2 cups boiling water. Let stand until tender, about 10 minutes. Pick out the mushrooms and coarsely chop them. Reserve the soaking liquid.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the beets, 3/4 cups water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, until tender.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms, spreading them out in a single layer, and cook, stirring the pan just once or twice, until the mushrooms are tender and seared a bit. Remove from the heat.

4. In a Dutch oven, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add the celery, carrot, onion, bay leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (Note: You can pulse the celery, carrots, and onion together in a food processor until uniformly ground—this saves a bit of prep time, and the finer texture of the vegetables helps thicken the sauce a bit.) Cook for about 5 minutes, until beginning to soften.

5. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and fry for about a minute. Then add the flour, stirring to coat, followed by the lentils, porcini mushrooms, wine, bullion, and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved porcini liquid. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 18 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

6. Fold in the seared mushrooms and beets (along with any liquid at the bottom of the saucepan). Taste for salt. Simmer for a few minutes to heat thoroughly, then serve hot, over rice, polenta, mashed potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

This article was originally published on April 6, 2020. It was updated on February 19, 2020.

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