Tofu Burgers with Beet Relish and Tahini Sauce

Simply prepared vegetables and cooked grains are what we’ve mostly been eating this fall. We still get a lot of kale from our little allotment garden plot – I can’t believe it yields crop until December in Finland! It was especially surprising ot find out since kale is pretty expensive and very hard to find in supermarkets around here. Food industry is quite a mystery, but that has nothing to do with this recipe, other than that kale leaves would be a nice addition to any burger really.


Now these burgers are not about the patty, since the “patty” is actually just a slice of fried tofu, and I guess that in the US these might most likely be called sandwiches instead of burgers. But the main thing that’s going on here is the beet-sauerkraut relish, with its sweet-tangy taste that goes so very well with the rye bread, and its beety texture that is quite lovely with the fried tofu – especially when everything is drenched in creamy tahini sauce. Simple, quick, and tasty, just the way we prefer our dinners to be right now.

This recipe makes enough for 4 burgers, with some extra beet relish and tahini sauce left over. The relish is mighty tasty as a side dish as well, and we often serve this sauce with cooked grains like quinoa or barley. We also filled our burgers with pea sprouts and sliced yellow bell pepper, and enjoyed them with a side of carrot sticks.

The Tofu:

  • 300 grams tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • canola oil for frying
  • black pepper to taste

Heikki first cut the tofu in 4 slices, pressed them for a bit with some cheesecloth, and then fried them in canola oil until slightly brown on both sides. Then he drizzled the liquid smoke and the soy sauce in the pan and turned the slices over a few times to make sure they got an even coating, and crackled plenty of black pepper over the tofu when it was ready.

The Beet Relish:

  • 2 large beets, julienned (or even grated)
  • 1 and 1/2 dl sauerkraut (about 100 grams)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • (a sqeeze of lemon juice)

I heated the oil in a frying pan and fried the onion until slightly browned. Then I added the beets and the sauerkraut in the pan, and fried for about 5 minutes, until the beet started to soften. Now I added the salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, covered the pan, and let it stew until everything else was ready to serve (it took about 10 minutes).

Tahini Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 dl nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 dl water
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Heikki just dumped all the ingredients in our mini food processor and mixed until thoroughly combined and creamy. The thickness of this sauce can be easily adjusted by cutting the amount of water – this makes quite a runny sauce.

To assemble, we buttered out two toasted rye bread slices with a bit of vegan margarine, slathered the bread slices with tahini sauce, then added a pile of the beet relish on the bottom slice. That got drizzled with some more sauce, then covered by a slice of tofu and a bunch of veggies, and another drizzle of the sauce.


  1. -J-
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 11:25 | Permalink

    Oh yum! Now I know what we’re gonna have for the weekend. I love sauerkraut and beets, although combining them never crossed my mind. Thank you so much, for this lovely blog, and for continuous inspiration.

  2. Posted October 16, 2009 at 20:47 | Permalink

    These burgers look and sound so delicious. I LOVE sauerkraut and just thinking of it with the beets, tahini, and tofu is making me hungry right now. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Posted October 16, 2009 at 20:59 | Permalink

    It seems really tasty, I’d love to have it for dinner!

  4. Colin
    Posted October 17, 2009 at 02:59 | Permalink

    Thanks for a great idea; I made the sauerkraut/beet relish to go along with a tofu/walnut burger tonight, and it was great!

  5. Posted October 18, 2009 at 03:22 | Permalink

    I did a falafel, beetroot dip and kale wrap a few months back and it was great so I agree with you about kale leaves in burgers

    I tried a version of your tahini sauce last night and it was lovely – thanks

  6. Anni
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 20:29 | Permalink

    Your comments are all so very nice, thank you!

    Colin – I’m glad to hear you liked the relish, and I can definitely imagine it going well with a tofu-walnut burger.

    Johanna – thank you, it’s great to hear you tried and liked the sauce! We’ve been making it a lot lately, usually without measuring so it’s also always a little different.

  7. Posted October 19, 2009 at 00:36 | Permalink

    sounds great! I love sauerkraut.

  8. Posted October 19, 2009 at 21:26 | Permalink

    I have so many beets around right now, I need to make that relish. The burger looks so beuatiful and those buns look interesting, too.

  9. Anni
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 09:32 | Permalink

    Mihl – those buns are just store-bought rye buns called Reissumies (Vagabond). There’s a bit of wheat and yeast in the ingredients so the bread’s softer than real rye bread – good to use for burgers.

  10. Posted October 22, 2009 at 09:55 | Permalink

    What a tasty & fab meal this is!!


  11. Posted October 30, 2009 at 01:28 | Permalink

    this looks and sounds so delicious!

  12. Posted November 27, 2009 at 21:50 | Permalink

    What a delicious meal! I love beet relish, my grandmother makes it for special occasions and its always a treat.

    I recently had something similar to this at a cafe and I was tempted to try making it at home, now after seeing your entry I think I’ll give it a try.

  13. Posted November 30, 2009 at 11:38 | Permalink

    hi heikki, nice to find your blog :) A stupid question: is the beet relish typical finnish?

  14. Heikki
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 21:18 | Permalink

    Hi Tippitappi, welcome. =)

    No, I guess it’s not. Most of the stuff we blog about isn’t, really. You can find some Finnish recipes Anni has blogged about under the “Finnish”-tag.

  15. Posted January 4, 2010 at 20:14 | Permalink

    I want to try this! Grandmother would love this!

  16. Posted January 27, 2010 at 01:15 | Permalink

    I just found your blog through a Portland, Maine food blog, Cornucopia, and I ope to see you again soon. Love your recipes.

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