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?

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Roasted Pepper Stuffed With Bulghur, Chick Peas & Herbs

For those of you that have been following me you’ll know I decided to take part in #veganuary. Veganuary is a global campaign highlighting the impact the meat and dairy industry has on our planet. The idea is simple. Cut out meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey from your diet for the month of January, a month where many people go for faddy diets, refrain from alcohol or detox after the festive season.

I am almost half way through now and loving it. My waistline cannot hide the fact I have always been a cheese lover, but surprisingly I have found the two weeks of Veganuary so far to be much easier than I thought.

Before starting I resigned myself to the fact I would be eating stir fries, veg chilis and curries day in day out, but with a little thought and reading aoround the subject, the options are limitless. Tonight I opted for a silky smooth, roasted, stuffed pepper. In the past I would smother these with cheese but going vegan has taught me it tastes just as good without the cheese and all the bad things that brings.

This makes enough for 4 people for a lunch, or 2 if you are greedy.

4 Peppers – any colour will do
a large handful of bulghur wheat – about a cup
1x400g tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon paprika
A pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tomato – skinned and finely diced
1 onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
a handful each of fresh parsley, basil and mint – roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Put the oven on at 180C

Cut the tops off the peppers, leaving the stalk on. Remove the seeds and place the peppers and lids in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take a small frying pan and heat 1 tablespoon. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently until slightly browned. Remove from heat and put in a bowl.

Cover the bulghur with boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. The grains will swell and absorb most of the liquid. Drain in a sieve and add to the bowl

Drain the chick peas and rinse under a cold tap to remove the odd tinny flavour. Add the drained chick peas to the bowl along with the tahini, paprika, chopped herbs and skinned, chopped tomato. Season and mix well.

Now spoon the mixture into the peppers, squidging them down to cram it all in. Pop the lids on and return to the oven for at least 40 minutes, or preferably an hour.

Serve with salad, or roasted new potatoes, or a little soya yogurt.

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Harissa Braised Aubergine With Coconut & Chickpeas

A quick, hearty dinner. No cooking required and, better still, very little washing up. Just place it all in the pot, put it in the oven, wait for an hour or so, then serve. That’s really all there is to it (apart from a quick cooking of the aubergine to make is silky soft).

In the unlikely event you have any leftovers, it tastes even better the next day served at room temperature or reheated. be careful when reheating rice and make sure everything is piping hot before eating.

Serves 4

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot – sliced
2 tablespoons Harissa paste
1x400g tin of Coconut Milk
2 aubergines – cut lengthways
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 small red pepper – diced
1x400g tin chick peas
A small piece of cinnamon stick – about 2-3cm

Start by brushing the aubergine slices with generous amounts of olive oil. They place on a hot griddle, fry or roast in the oven, turning once, until softened. If using a griddle you’ll get attractive charred stripes.

Put the oven on at 180C. Now take a casserole dish with a lid and add the coconut milk, harissa paste, carrots, soy sauce, garlic, peppers, cinnamon and drained chick peas. If you like things a little spicy, add a sliced red chili. Stir well then place the aubergine slices on top and spoon some of the sauce over the top. Pop the lid on and place in the oven for at least an hour.

Serve with steamed rice flavoured with coriander and mint.

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Roasted, Spiced Vegetables with Paneer

Roasted vegetables have always been a a standby in our house. Sunny, Mediterranean vegetables drenched in good olive oil and roasted, sometimes with chick peas, sometimes with cubes of squeaky halloumi and occasionally when feeling decadent, with both.

Sometimes however we need a change. I fancied something spicy, something curryish. Not hard to make, but takes a little care and attention. So why not roast a curry. Just chop everything, add the spices and pop in the oven while I can get on with other things.

The result was amazing. From now on I am going to roast all my curries. Well they do say people get lazier as they get older….

This makes enough for 4-6 people depending on how much bread you have. Also works really well the next day for lunch when all the flavours have deepened overnight. The paneer is optional. Leave it out for a vegan version.

1 onion – diced
2 cloves garlic – sliced
2-3 small potatoes – peeled and diced
1 red or green pepper – diced
1 courgette – diced
1x400g tin chick peas
3 ripe tomatoes – diced
250g paneer – diced
1 large whole chili – cut a slit in the side
1 teaspoon each of whole cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, black onion seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon amchoor (if you can’t get amchoor use a splash of lemon juice)
sunflower oil
mustard oil
fresh coriander leaves – roughly chopped

Put the oven on to 200C

Take a large baking tray and put the vegetables, chick peas and spices in. Add a splash of each of the oils then gently mix with your hands to get everything coated in the oil and spices.

Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, turn occasionally. Add the paneer if using and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Take out of the oven, throw a handful of chopped coriander leaves over and serve with chutney, pickle, raita and breads. Leave the chili in the tray but you don’t have to eat it. It’s just there to add a little warmth to the dish.

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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.

Chick Pea, Tomato and Bread Soup

From Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. This reminds me of a vegetable stew and paprika dumpling recipe I used to make as a student – in the days when vegetarian food hadn’t really been invented! – only this is simpler as the bread acts like a dumpling wihtout having to do any of the work.

Serves 4-6
1 onion – halved and finely sliced
1 fennel bulb – finely sliced
120ml or so of olive oil
1 carrot – peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 sticks of celery – finely sliced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
250ml white wine
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 litre vegetable stock
approx 160g stale bread – sourdough, ciabatta, anything will do really – remove the crusts
1 x 400g tin chick peas – drained
salt, pepper
4 tablespoons pesto

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and fennel until softened. Add the carrot and celery, soften for a few minutes then add the tomato puree and wine and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.

Next add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar, stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil again, cover and simmer for half an hour.

While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks, toss in a little oil and salt and place in a roasting tray in the the oven at 180C for 10 minutes until dry. Set aside.

Now drain the chick peas, mash them slightly with a fork so some are crushed while others remian whole then add to the simmering soup. Once the soupd has simmered for a further 5 minutes add the bread, stir, cook for a further 5 minutes then add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide into 4-6 bowls and finish with a blob of pesto and a drizzle of olive oil.

Vegan month – part 2 (Middle East)

An old recipe – so old in fact I shared it with @pau1martin when he went traveling many many years ago.

Another favourite from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. Chick peas with bulghar wheat and tomatoes. Sounds a bit bland but tastes great. I did miss a good blob of natural yogurt with it though.

glug of olive oil
1 onion – finely chopped
2 tomatoes – chopped
1x400g tin chick peas – drained
handful of parsley – chopped
bulghar wheat – measure up to 6fl oz in a measuring jug
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan then gently fry the onion until soft. Add the tomatoes and stir until they start to go pasty. Now add the chick peas, bulghar, and about a teaspoon of salt. Stir well then add 6fl oz (sorry for the mixed measurements) of water. bring to boil, place lid on pan then remove from heat. Leave for 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Season with black pepper and serve with hummus, salad, flatbreads.