Supermarket Vegetarin: Part IV
I’m quizzical as to what positioning a burger has in the context of vegetarianism. Long have vegetarians burgers been shunned to frozen boxes of only Lord knows what… and sweetcorn. There are always kernels of corn in frozen veggie burgers, right?
And I get it. Why bother making your own? This series is all about making vegetarian recipes accessible, and what’s more accessible than a frozen burger? I agree with you. But with the ease of this recipe and the delicious end-product, it makes the frozen alternative look pale in comparison.
Exploring meatless recipes is not difficult. People who are not vegetarian complicate it – believe me, I used to complicate it myself. Searching for the protein, searching for the flavour, searching for the texture – well, just like ANY meal, it will be there if you put it there. It’s that simple. And in-keeping with my SUPERMARKET VEGETARIAN series, every ingredient here can be snatched up in your local.
So this recipe ties in all points of this triangle. I wanted to address the quest of protein (with a big honking can of chickpeas), the flavour with a smoky spice tri-combination and texture with a layered burger stack that incorporates the moisturising squish of avocado and the sexy crunch of carrot.
This meal is a riot. It’s an absolute explosion of flavours and has that same DIY feeling to it that tacos do. That’s why, of an evening, I like to plonk deconstructed burgers down on the table and let whatever company is at the table build their own. This burger offering is no exception.
The pear salsa takes me back to a sun lounger in Mexico where I holidayed a few years ago. We had a Private Chef (don’t throw rocks at me) who made me a salsa like this daily. His method was inclusive of a few more ingredients, but I’ve trimmed it right back for ease.
Start by getting all your sh** together. Drain a can of chickpeas, grate one big parsnip (or two little ones), chop up a handful of mushrooms, cop up an onion as small as you can and finely grate up two cloves of garlic.
In a pan, heat up a little olive oil and drop in the onion and garlic. Salt them and fry until they begin to soften. Throw in the mushrooms and the parsnip, salt a little and cook until these begin to soften too. Now it’s time to get these flavour packed as a base before with throw in the pulse.
Add a teaspoon of paprika, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, half a teaspoon of dried basil and a generous twist of black pepper. Stir everything until you see the parsnip take on the murky tan of the spices. Now add the drained chickpeas and stir so that these take on the colour of the spices also. Once everything is soft and coated in the spices, take it off the head and allow to cool.
Once cooled, add a teaspoon of plain flour and mash everything together in the pan. I’m lazy and throw this in a food processor and pulse once or twice but a regular potato masher is fine. Don’t mash this to a paste, you want it to be a rubbly, scruffy mush. How to tell it’s perfect is to use the back of your spoon and draw a big fat line down the middle of it (I call this a Moses Tide). If the mush stays put and there’s a big line through it (for people to escape!) then it’s perfect. If the mush falls back in, it may need a sprinkle more flour.
Now for my favourite part. PATTY CAKES! Take big tablespoons of the mixture and roll into a ball into your palms. Once the ball is fully formed and proud, place it on a lined baking sheet and gently press down on it with your palm to flatten it slightly into famous ‘burger’ shapes. Keep going until the mixture is gone and you should get 6 fat burgers. Slip them in the fridge to firm for like 15-20 minutes. Flip on the oven to 200C to preheat and go do something for 20 minutes. Finding something to watch on Netflix is a good option.
Once the burgers have had chilling time, just slide them straight into the hot oven. You could also slide in some sliced up, oiled/salted/peppered potatoes into the oven on a separate sheet too if you want a little more substance with your meal, but sometimes a burger and a salad for me. Either way, the burgers need to be in for 35 mins so while they bake, crack on with assembling your bits.
Finely slice up a pear and chuck it in a bowl. Finely slice up a red chilli (remove the seeds if you want it to be milder) and throw this in the bowl with the pear. Finely slice up half an onion and throw this in too. Rip up some fresh coriander, finely chop it up and throw in the bowl. Add a little salt, a little oil and squeeze over the juice of one lime. Stir everything and put to one side.
For the burger stack, you can do whatever you feel here – whatever is your favourite burger accompaniments. But for this I want a mix of cream and crunch, so I go for a sliced avocado alongside some grated carrot. You’ve got time to kill while the burgers bake anyway, so you could either do dishes or just round up any fridge leftovers to go in your burger.
Once the burgers have had 25 minutes, turn the oven up to 200C for another 10 minutes to give them a final crisp up. Take them out of the oven and let them sit on the side for 5 minutes. This is an important step. Letting them sit allows them to harden up in the cool air. If you try to fish them off the baking tray too soon, they could be too soft and will fall apart. Patience, Iago!
While the rest though, I tend to put a few Brioche buns in the switched off oven to toast up in the residual heat. But once they’re rested and the buns are toasty, I stack away. My preferred stack, you ask? I spread a little sour cream on the bottom bun and sprinkle this with paprika. Then I drape on the burger. Then I add a little grated carrot followed by the avocado. I salt this up a little, slap the bun on and eat with both hands and sour cream running down my elbow.
Like I said, if you want something else to go with this, you could slip some cubed potatoes into the oven. They’ll take the same time as the burgers to cook (plus the resting time) so technically when you’re done with the resting time/toasting the buns, the potatoes would’ve had about 45 minutes – so you can serve everything at the right time.
But I’m feeling a bit bloated since the snow days we had this month and my body has been begging for salads, so I resisted the potatoes and just had burgers and salad. There was beer though. A burger without a beer just doesn’t feel right. It’s like bread without butter. Unheard of.