Veggie burgers are basically my arch nemesis. They’re the Joker to my Batman (without the weird sexual tension and well-moulded plastic abs); the Blofeld to my Bond (also without the sexual tension); the Lex Luthor to my Superman (I don’t remember any sexual tension but I’ve been wrong before*).
Basically I just can’t make them. They turn out sloppy or tasteless, the only way to improve them being to slather them with cheese and some kind of burger sauce as they sit, lonely and shunned, in a wilting bun.
BUT NO MORE.
Yesterday I created a flavourful, robust, and frankly quite pretty veggie burger (thanks to the vibrant edition of beetroot, which of course made me look like I’d murdered someone).
The most important person to impress, however, was Isla, who loves veggie burgers but can’t stand any burger that tries to imitate the texture of meat; while I will happily scoff down as many Linda McCartney mozzarella burgers as you’ll pass to me, Isla finds the texture disconcerting. Fortunately, she really enjoyed this veggie burger, which is good because I made way too much mix.
Guess we’re having ’em two nights in a row!
I also made a really light homemade slaw to go with this, but you can omit that or get something from a shop if you can’t be bothered to chop red cabbage. I wouldn’t blame you.
Note: the chimichurri sauce I used was actually a marinade I got from Sainsbury’s (£1 for the bottle, can’t complain) but you can make your own or get any sauce/marinade you can find at your local. It’s a robust base, this burger, so you can always use BBQ, honey & mustard, or pretty much whatever you fancy. I’m not going to tell anyone.
Beetroot & Lentil Chimichurri Burgers with Slaw (Vegetarian, Gluten-free**)
Serves 4 (2sp per plain burger)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 medium-large mixing bowls; spatula or wooden spoon; fish slice or similar for flipping; large frying pan; a decently sharp knife; some magical way of getting that one Lady Antebellum song that’s always on Smooth radio out of my goddamn head.
For the burgers:
- 1 390-400g tin green lentils
- 2 medium cooked beetroot, not in vinegar (I used these ones, though apparently you need to watch the shelf life on them)
- 1 medium carrot, scrubbed but not peeled
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 fat clove garlic
- 60g porridge oats (or roughly 50g GF flour)
- 1 egg
- 4 tsp chimichurri sauce/marinade (roughly 20g)
- Salt & pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil, plus a little extra for the onions (or use cooking spray)
For the slaw:
- 150g red cabbage (just under a quarter of a small head)
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 medium carrot
- A good handful parsley (10-15g)
- 2 tbsp light mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp red vinegar
- Salt & pepper
Recommended: burger buns and salad
Optional: a thick slab of goats’ cheese mmmmmm
- Get your slaw done first. Scrub the carrot, top and tail the onion and take off the outer layers, and remove the hard outer leaves from the cabbage. Using a sharp knife, finely slice the cabbage and the onion, and coarsely grate the carrot — you can grate all the veg if you like, but this may lead to a mushy coleslaw. Finely chop the parsley leaves and add everything to one of your bowls. Add salt & pepper, then the vinegar, and stir until combined. Let this sit for a minute before adding the mayonnaise. Stir again then cover and put in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Get your frying pan on a medium heat misted with cooking spray and sort out the veggies for the burgers. Start by peeling and finely dicing the onion and garlic, and then top ‘n’ tail the carrot before grating it. Add the onion to the pan with some salt & pepper and cook for 10 minutes or until softened and starting to colour, then add the garlic and grated carrot. Cook for a further 5 minutes while you drain and thoroughly rinse your lentils, getting as much water out of them as you can. Set aside.
- Take the pan off the heat to cool slightly and get your mixing bowl out. Pour in the oats and grate in the beetroot, being careful not to cover yourself in the blood of the fallen as you do so. Tip in the contents of your frying pan, along with the lentils, and give everything a really good mix. The cooler ingredients should help to calm the heat of the cooked ones, meaning you can now crack in your egg and give another thorough mix. At this point, everything should be well combined and slightly sticky, but not too wet.
- Give your pan a quick wipe round with a bit of kitchen towel and add the teaspoon of oil. While that heats up, divide the burger mixture into four and roll into balls, flattening and shaping them into patties and setting them aside on a surface you don’t mind possibly forever being pink (I recommend a plate or resilient chopping board). Add the burgers to the pan and cook for 10 minutes on the first side, adding a teaspoon of chimichurri to each of the burgers on the uncooked side and spreading evenly before flipping (cook them for longer if you want a charred flavour, but this was perfect for me). Cook for a further 5-10 minutes and then serve on burger buns with the slaw and/or salad, and whatever sauces your heart desires.
If you’re not a fan of beetroot, give this a go anyway – I swear to you it just gives a nice earthy flavour and vibrant colour that you can’t get any other way. The burger’s not pretending to be meat but it has a great chewy texture because of the oats, and a good kick of flavour thanks to the garlic and chimichurri. Try it. Try it and see.
*I mean, I’m going off the 90’s Lois & Clark series with Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain (which is the best version, fight me) and he was the straightest straight man ever to straight. It was a bit disappointing in that regard actually.
**These could be made gluten-free by using GF flour to bind instead of the oats. Although I am informed that ‘gluten-free oats’ (i.e. oats that haven’t been rolled in flour) exist, my inside Coeliac source informs me that there is something in oats that can cause a similar reaction in the gluten-intolerant and those with Coeliac disease.