The ultimate veggie burger
We’re putting our magazine together in the middle of Veganuary. So far this month, I seem to have been swamped by adverts for highly processed meat alternatives. Whatever their pros and cons, they’ve led me to think nostalgically about the veggie burgers of my youth. There was one stall that was my favourite at Strawberry Fair and other festivals in the early 1990s, which made what I considered to be the best veggie burgers. I spent some time trying to recreate the recipe at home. I’ve dug out my old folder of hand-written recipes to reproduce it here.
A ‘burger’ is a word which originally applied to a meat patty, but the veggie burgers that I like aren’t trying to mimic their meaty namesakes. They share the same shape and affinity for being squashed between buns, but these burgers are spicy combinations of pulses and fresh vegetables, that are a million miles away from something that bleeds from a lab in Silicon Valley. Since the 1990s, burgers have grown up: not just in the sense of now featuring on restaurant menus, but also quite literally in height, with more and more layers being added to the most Instagram-worthy burger. We decided to try to build the ultimate veggie burger tower. Not sure how we’re going to eat it though . . .
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed, cut in two lengthways and then finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 can of chickpeas
2 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Plain flour for dusting
Start by sweating the onions over a low heat. After a few minutes, add the leeks and then a few minutes later the carrots. Finally, add the spices and fry for another few minutes to toast them a little. Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas (reserving some of the water), and blitz in a food processor. Add the chickpeas to the fried vegetables and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and taste: adjust the spices if necessary. If the mixture looks too dry, add some of the reserved chickpea water.
Shape the mixture into patties and dust both sides with flour. Fry in a little oil on a medium heat until nicely browned on both sides and hot in the middle.
Now it’s time to construct your burgers. If you’re not involved in the madcap world of producing an A5 leaflet for a vegetable box company, then you probably won’t want to make a burger quite this tall – not unless you’re blessed with flip-top jaws. But we hope that our teetering tower of a burger stack will provide some inspiration for two or three additions to add some pizzazz to a more manageable burger!