out of the frying pan: snazzy veggie burgers
If I was a more disciplined kind of person I’d probably be a vegetarian. As it is, I’m not. But I do spend an awful lot of time finding vegetarian alternatives to traditionally meat based dishes, both for myself and for my vegetarian friends and acquaintances. If nothing else, it’s generally cheaper and that’s something I constantly strive for.
If I’m perfectly honest, there’s nothing all that snazzy about these burgers. I’ve replaced regular hard sandwich cheese with haloumi, and lettuce with a simple, delicious coleslaw, and in many ways I feel as if it’s a whole lot snazzier than a plain beef burger, but something I’ve realised over the years is that unfortunately I feel an innate need to make vegetarian food sound more tantalising than the alternative.
In a lot of cases I think it’s a sad fact that vegetarian food is perceived as bland or boring. That no veggie dish could ever possibly be as mouth-watering or filling or desirable as a meat dish. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. With the array of fruit, veg, legumes, grains, seasonings and spices that are easily available these days, the impact of a vegetarian dish is really only limited by the imagination and ambition of those cooking and preparing it.
It’s one of my missions to be a champion of veg. Sure, you can disguise their flavours and cover them up with cheese and sauces until they’re barely recognisable. That’s fine, and each to their own. I love cheese. Passionately. But treat them right, show them respect and prepare them well and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could ever view humble, healthy, wonderful vegetables as boring.
Snazzy Veggie Burgers
(Serves 4 – 6)
This recipe includes my personal favourite accompaniments for this burger, but you can go wild with your toppings. Add cucumber, tomato, a fried egg, or a relish or caramelised onions if you prefer. I can never really go past bog standard tomato sauce though.
Six burger buns, halved and lightly toasted (best done under a grill)
1 420gm tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup green lentils
½ brown onion, finely diced
Jar of roasted red capsicums
Quarter of a green cabbage, finely shredded
1 carrot, peeled and grated
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp cider vinegar
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
2 Tbs plain flour
1. Place shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with ½ tsp. Toss and leave to sit for about ten minutes.
2. Add red onion, carrot, cider vinegar and mayonnaise and mix well, and transfer to the fridge to sit for at least an hour. Coleslaw is the kind of thing that only improves with time (to an extent obviously, if it starts going grey or furry it’s probably past its prime).
For the Veggie Patties
1. Cook and drain lentils (it’s unlikely that there won’t be directions on how to prepare them on the packet.
2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan on medium-low and sweat onions until soft. Add cumin and coriander seeds and fry gently for a minute or so.
3. Add kidney beans and lentils and cook until warmed through, seasoning with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until it becomes a sort of cohesive mixture. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool until safe to handle.
4. Once cool, form mixture into patties and dust lightly with flour.
5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry patties until lightly brown.
Place buns under the grill to toast. Lightly dust haloumi slices with flour and fry until golden brown. Spread buns with Dijon mustard, and stack patties, cheese, roasted capsicum, coleslaw and sauce of your choosing in whichever order seems most architecturally sound. Tuck in.
Delicious served with corn on the cobb and a simple salad, or an extra serving of coleslaw on the side.