I’m dubious as to what positioning a burger has in the context of modern day vegetarianism. We have the 90’s and early 00’s to blame for vegetarian burgers being shunned to frozen boxes of only Lord knows what microwaveable bags of vegetables and sweetcorn. There are always kernels of corn in frozen veggie burgers, aren’t there?
And I get it. Why bother making your own? My ethos for writing recipes always try and retain an element of accessibility, 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 a meat-free burger is not difficult. People who are not vegetarian complicate it – me being one of them – but I happen to truly leave veggie burgers, and I was on a quest. 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.
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 crunchy sweetness of parsnips.
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.
Makes enough for 6 big, fat burgers or 12 smaller ones, slider style
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion – chopped roughly
1 clove garlic – chopped roughly
200g mushrooms – chopped roughly
2 parsnips – peeled and grated
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 x 400g can of chickpeas – drained
1 tablespoon plain flour
- In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Salt them and cook until the onion begins to soften.
- Now add the mushrooms and parsnips, adding a little more salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms soften. Should take about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Add the paprika, cumin, chilli powder and some black pepper and stir into the pan until you see its contents take on the tan of the spices.
- Now add the drained chickpeas, stirring into the mix and cook for a further 5 or 10 minutes.
- Once you can feel the parsnip has softened slightly and the chickpeas have taken on the spices, take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Carefully tip the contents of the pan to the bowl of a food processor and add the flour. Pulse or mash the ingredients together – but not to a paste, you want a rubbly, scruffy but still crumbly mush.
- Take a generous handful of the mix and roll into balls using your palms and 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 ‘burger’ shapes. Repeat this balling and flattening process until the mixture is all used up.
- Slip the tray in the fridge to firm and flip on the oven to 200°C to preheat and go do something for 20 minutes.
- Once the burgers have chilled, take them out of the fridge and bake in the oven for 35 minutes before cranking the oven up to 220°C for a final 10 minutes to crisp them up.
- Take them out of the oven, switch the oven off, and allow them to rest for about 5 or 10 minutes, an important step as this will allow them to climatize and not fall apart. Patience. They’ll be worth it.
- My preferred stack, you ask? I spread sour cream on the bottom bun and sprinkle this with paprika then I drape on the burger. I add a little mashed avocado and lime juice to the slider and then a little grated carrot. I add a few drops of my favourite hot sauce, slap on the top bun and eat with both hands.