Beetroot, Chick Pea and Quinoa Burgers

I now realise you can make burgers from pretty much anything provided you follow a few basic principles. You need something dry, something sticky to bind it together and lots of flavours. The dry part tends to be oats, or breadcrumbs, or nuts. The sticky comes from eggs, cheese or mashed pulses.

This came about as a somewhat random recipe. made from the sort of things I have lying about the kitchen. A few vegetables, a pulse I can mash to get the stickiness and some quinoa – yeh I know quinoa is becoming all a little bit too 2015, but it adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish and, when the burgers are fried, it’s the quinoa that gives it it’s crispy exterior, without the need to roll the burgers in breadcrumbs or the like. Apart from the quinoa, everything else is used raw until you cook the burgers themselves.

This made four large burgers – though I think dividing it into six would be more elegant perhaps

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium beetroot – peeled and grated
1 medium carrot – peeled and grated
2 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1x400g tin chick peas – drained
a handful of fresh parsley leaves and stalks
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
a splash of tabasco
juice of half a lime
a handful or so of rolled oats
olive oil for frying

Put the quinoa and water in a pan, bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the lid on and allow to cool.

Put the chick peas, garlic and tahini in a food processor and blitz to a rough mixture, a little bit like crunchy peanut butter. Add the grated carrot and beetroot, the parsley, paprika and oregano. Whiz for few seconds, then add the lime juice, tabasco, salt, pepper. Whiz again briefly then slowly add the oats and cooked quinoa with a quick pulse in between, until you have a firm, but still a little moist mix.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Divide the mixture into six (or 4, or even 8!). Roll each into a ball, squash into a flattish disc and fry gently in the oil for 7-9 minutes on each side. The top and bottom should be browned and crispy and the middle nice and hot.

I served mine with a red cabbage, carrot and chili slaw and a jacket potato. How are you having yours?



Mushroom & Rice Burgers with Raw Cashew Hummus

I had some leftover rice from a black bean and sweet potato chilli party last week and, as vegans have a bit of a reputation for burger eating, I decided to use them as the base for a Sunday night tea of burgers, salad and baked potatoes. Usually I would be adding cheese and an egg to my burger mix, but participating in #veganuary has taught me that it just isn’t needed and does little to ass to flavour or texture.

The raw cashew hummus is from Lee Watson’s brilliant book Parsnips and Peace and works brilliantly with the jacket spuds as an alternative to the rather unpleasant dairy-free margarines on the market. I just left out the cumin as not sure that would have worked with the burgers.

This makes 4 burgers

For the burgers
1 cup cooked rice
1x400g tin of cannelini beans – drained. You could use butter beans or chick peas if you prefer
3 shallots – finely chopped
1 fat clove garlic – finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms – finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for frying the burgers
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Marmite
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tahini
1 large handful of spinach – chopped

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently until translucent. Now add the mushrooms, soy and Marmite. Cook on a medium to high heat until the mushrooms are soft and the pan is almost dry. Leave to cool.

Put the drained beans in a large mixing bowl and mash roughly with a potato masher or fork. Add the rice, tahini, oregano, spinach and mushroom mixture. Mix well.

Take a large frying pan, drizzle with oil and place over a medium heat. Take a large handful of the burger mixture, shape into a ball. Place in the pan and squidge it down to resemble a burger. You may need to shape it a little with your spatula. Do this for the other three burgers if your pan is large enough, or fry in batches and keep warm in the oven. These are quite fragile so best to disturb them as little as possible. Leave to cook on one side for around 10 minutes, then gently lift and turn, and fry for further 10 minutes. Again you may have to push them back into shape if they fall apart a little.

Once done, lift and plate up with a white cabbage and fennel slaw and a hot jacket potato crammed full of the cashew hummus.

For the Hummus
250g cashews (not the roasted salted ones) – soaked in water for 3-4 hours
3 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic
100ml olive oil
juice of half a lemon
a little water

Drain the cashews then put everything in the food processor. Blitz until smooth and creamy, adding a little water if needed to loosen it up. Make sure you scrape down the sides between blitzing to remove all the lumpy bits..


Beet ‘n’ Bean Burgers

I first had a beetroot burger at Wholefoods Market on a recent trip to New York while trying to escape the cold and the rain. Then on a flying visit to Cornwall last weekend I had them again – this time at the takeaway hole-in-the-wall at Watergate Bay.

These can be made in advance and frozen. They work well on the BBQ too, just handle with care.

Make 6 burgers

1 onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium beetroots
1 courgette
1x400g tin red kidney beans – drained
breadcrumbs – about 3-4 slices worth
2 tablespoons tahini
a handful each of parsley and mint
a few flakes of chili – depending how hot you like it
salt and black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Allow to cool.

Grate the courgettes into a muslin or teatowel and squeeze as much water out as you can. Put the courgette into a large bowl along with the peeled and grated beetroot.

In your food processor, put the cooled onion and garlic, the drained beans, herbs and tahini. Blitz until it looks like a smooth hummus then tip out into the bowl along with the courgette and beetroot. Add a few chili flakes, mix well then slowly add breadcrumbs until you get a dryish, sticky mix. Season with salt and pepper, mix again then shape into six burgers.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan then fry the burgers over a medium heat for about 8-10 minutes on each side until browned.

Here I have served the burgers with a smokey walnut muhammara (from Anna Jones’ brilliant book) and a fatoush salad.


Quinoa and Red Bean Burgers

Veggie burgers are tricky things to get right. Too dry and they crumble apart when you try to turn them in the pan. Too wet and you end up with a sludgy mess on your plate. On a recent visit to New York i experienced the good and bad side of burgers. On the first night I thought it would be fun to try out a good old fashioned New York diner. The menu described my meal as a veggie burger. I have absolutely no idea what was in it but it tasted vile and looked like a giant shredded wheat. Possibly the worst meal I have ever eaten. Next day however we took refuge from the cold and rain in Whole Foods Market had the perfect beetburger.

The other thing that struck me is everywhere is selling dishes containing quinoa. If you haven’t tried it it’s a seed, high in protein and has a sort of nutty smell and taste to it. It comes in red, white or black though I used a bag of mised. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in taste, the colour just changes to look of your dish. Widely used in salads, quinoa also makes a great burger ingredient.

This is my adaptation of a random recipe I found on line but am unbale to find again. i served it with a simple broad bean and potato patty, a poached egg and a roasted tomato sauce. The burger would also work in well in your favourite type of bun with chili jam, mayo and lettuce.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1x400g tin red kidney beans
1 teaspoon each of paprika powder, oregano and basil
½ teaspoon each of chili powder and salt
1 clove garlic – crushed
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
65g strong cheese (optional)

First cook the quinoa. Put the quinoa into a pan, add the water then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Drain and rinse the beans to remove the odd taste beans get when they are tinned and that horrid red sludge that sits at the bottom of the tin. Put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher of fork. You want something with both smooth and lumpy bits to rather than a smooth paste. Now add the garlic, the herbs, spices and salt and the grated cheese if using. Stir in the cooked quinoa and the egg, then slowly add the breadcrumbs. Panko work best here but normal bread crumbs made from stale bread work well if you can’t get Panko.

Keep adding a few breadcrumbs at a time, mixing well with a fork. You are trying to get a fairly stiffish mixture that can be squidged into burger like shapes. Once you have added enough brescrumbs, do just that. Take a handful and squidge it into a ball, then flatten the sides into a burger shape. You can get 6-10 burgers out of the mixture depending on how big or small you like them.

Take a large frying pan, heat a little olive oil then gently fry the burgers until golden and crispy on the outside, turning once. I think about 10-12 minutes each side seems about right.



Broad Bean Burgers

For those of you who grow your own you’ll be aware broad bean season is once again upon us. Broad beans are one of the easiest things to grow, just watch out for blackfly and pinch out the tender tops as the plants grow to prevent the blackfly from spreading.

This recipe really does benefit from the extra time spent shelling the beans. Even young broad beans will work best if you remove the tough husks. I think I used about 30-40 pods when making this. I got 4 decent sized burgers out of it. You can shape the mixture into burgers and freeze for use later if you have too much to eat in one sitting.

Broad beans
2 large potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 red chili
2-3 slices of bread
Large pinch of turmeric
Large handful of parsley and coriander
1 egg

Remove the beans from their pods, place in boiling water and boil rapidly for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins and place the shiny green beans in a large bowl.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender. Drain and add to the beans. Mash roughly.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chili and fry gently in olive oil until tender. Add to the mashed beans and potatoes. Add the turmeric, egg, chopped herbs and season with salt. Mix well then blitz the bread into crumbs and add those too.

Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Take a handful of the burger mixture and shape into a round burger. Fry gently on both sides until browned.


Falafel Burgers

There’s a new fast food joint in town … only this one is a little different. Pilpel have opened at three sites. I was in the area of St Pauls recently thought I’s give it a try. Lunchtime at Paternoster Square was a little manic and a bit confusing at first but well worth it. The staff have been trained to fill a bowl with a selection of salads, five hot falafel and chili sauce in record time. I think it took about 15 seconds to put my meal together … seriously. Delicious, absolutely delicious.

So I thought I’d try a variation of this at home (home being some way from St Pauls or the other branches at Spitalfields), making burgers rather than the usual small balls of ground chick peas and spices. the flatter shape of the burger also lends itself well for shallow frying rather than the traditional deep frying method.

I cheated and rather than trying to invent my own, I used Paul Gayler’s recipe from the Daily Telegraph’s New Vegetarian column. Yeh I know. Not a newspaper one would generally associate with a vegetarian readership, but I guess it shows how mainstream meat free eating has become and how it is not just something for the loony left, sandal wearing, lentil eating, 2CV drivers out there, as it was when I last ate meat.

I used brown bulghar as I was unable to find kasha. I guess you could use porridge oats, ebly or something similar too.

This makes 4 large burgers

200g bulghar wheat
400ml vegetable stock
1x400g tin chickpeas – drained
1 courgette – grated and squeezed in a cloth to get as much liquid out as possible
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 tablespoon green coriander – chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
2 tablespoons gram flour (use plain white flour if you don’t have gram)
Olive oil for frying

Place the bulghar in a bowl, add the stock and leave until all the liquid has been absorbed. Place everything except the oil in a food processor and blitz until it forms a paste – not too much as you want it grainy rather than smooth.

Shape into four large burgers. If you prefer you can do eight smaller burgers. Place these in the fridge for a couple of hours to dry out and hold their shape.

Take a large frying pan, heat a little olive oil then fry each burger for 5-7 minutes each side unitl browned.

Serve with salads in a bap or with warm pitta bread and natural yogurt.

Hot Sweet Potato and Halloumi Sandwich

I’ve been thinking about this a quick family tea for a few weeks. I plan on making it, then for some reason everyone’s plans change, people are in, out, who knows where, and I end up not cooking or doing something a bit boring like pizza. Hardly the most original or inspiring snack ever invented but very tasty all the same. The sweetness of the sweet potato works really well with the saltiness of the halloumi and the peppery rocket. I also added a generous smear of mayonnaise and a wonderfully tangy chili and ginger salsa from Daylesford Organic I was given as a late Christmas present. It would work equally as well with FoodFrom4 Chili Jam – available from me if you ask me nicely.

The quantities below made lunch for two people.

2 baps/rolls of your choice. I used wholemeal seeded baps from Waitrose
1 pack halloumi – cut into four equal portions
1 small sweet potato – peeled and cut into thinnist discs
chili jam
mayonnaise or natural yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
rocket, watercress or similar

Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the sliced sweet potato and fry on both sides until soft on the inside and slightly charred on the outside.
Put the grill on and place the slices of halloumi under until browned, turn and repeat until the otehr side is brown too.
Split the baps. Place one slice of halloumi on each, then the sweet potato, then some chili jam, then the other piece of halloumi and top it off with a good handful of leaves and a dollop of mayonnaise or natural yogurt.