The Flexible Vegetarian

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By Jo Pratt

Whether you’re a full time vegetarian, or simply cutting down on the meat you and your family eat, you might find it a challenge to find recipes the whole family will enjoy eating. Well, worry not as this burger recipe will more than please meat-eaters and veggies alike. Quite often, a veggie burger is thought of as a boring, flavourless, wholesome substitute to an indulgent meaty beef burger. I’m pleased to say that this recipe is far from flavourless, and certainly shouldn’t be considered a boring substitute to a meat version. The burger has a fabulous meaty texture and holds up really well when adding numerous toppings before being sandwiched into a soft burger bun. I’ve chosen to do melting smoked cheese, sticky sweet onions, spiced mayo, gherkins and lettuce. However, just a good squirt of tomato ketchup can be just as satisfying for some. For the ultimate experience, serve your delicious veggie burgers with some homemade sweet potato fries and a crunchy coleslaw. You could also create your own American style diner and have a selection of milkshakes on the go as well.


VEGGIEBURGERS with onion marmalade and harissa

TAKES 1 hour + 1 hour chilling
TO SERVE 4 brioche buns, split in half
100g/3 1⁄2 oz sliced smoked cheddar cheese 6 tbsp mayonnaise
1-2 tsp harissa paste
baby gem lettuce leaves
sliced gherkins


olive oil
250–300g/9–10 1⁄2 oz flat or portabella mushrooms, cut into approx. 1cm/1⁄2 inch pieces
1 large (approx. 400g/14 oz) aubergine (eggplant), cut into approx. 1cm /1⁄2 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp brown sauce (such as HP or Daddies) 175g/6 oz fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 1⁄2 tsp mixed dried herbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


25g/10 oz butter
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 60ml/2 oz balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

To make the marmalade, melt the butter in a large saucepan.
Add the sliced onions and garlic, and season well. Gently cook over a low–medium heat until the onions are deep golden and caramelised, around 20 minutes. Increase the heat and add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes, then season again. Cool to room temperature.

To make the burgers, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat until coloured and any moisture has cooked away. Tip into a bowl to cool. Return the pan to the heat. Heat a further 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the aubergine until golden and tender, tossing around in the pan, to prevent it from burning. Remove from the heat and also leave to cool.

Put the cooled mushrooms and aubergine into a food processor along with the garlic, brown sauce, breadcrumbs, egg and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and blend until the mixture is thoroughly mixed. Using wet hands, firmly shape into four thick burgers and put on a parchment-lined tray or plate. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the burgers over a medium–high heat for around 4 minutes each side until cooked.

Heat the grill to medium–high. Halve the brioche buns and lightly toast the cut sides. At the same time, top the burgers with slices of cheese and sit under the grill until melted. Mix the mayonnaise and harissa together. Spread some onto the bottom halves of the buns, then lay on some lettuce and a spoon of onion marmalade. Sit the burger on top, add sliced gherkins and nally a dollop of harissa mayonnaise. Lightly press down with the bun lid.

Flexible For a more traditional meat burger, sauté 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic in 25g/1oz butter. Leave to cool then mix with 600g/1lb 5oz good-quality minced steak, 6 rashers of finely diced smoked streaky bacon, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and plenty of salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers and chill for 30 minutes. Fry in a trickle of olive oil for 3–4 minutes each side (medium) before finishing with the cheese on top under the grill.


TAKES 15 minutes

1 red-skinned apple, such as Braeburn or Pink Lady
1 tbsp lemon juice
1⁄2 fennel
1⁄4 red cabbage
125g/4 1⁄2 oz crème fraiche
50g/ 2 oz natural (plain) yoghurt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp celery salt
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


TAKES 40-45 minutes

4 medium–large sweet potatoes
1 1⁄2 tbsp fine polenta 1⁄2 tsp paprika
olive oil
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the core from the apple and cut the apple into matchstick size pieces. Put into a large bowl and toss in the lemon juice. Very finely slice or shred the fennel, cabbage, radishes and shallots either using a very sharp knife and steady hand, a mandolin or a slicer blade on a food processor. Add to the apple and toss everything together.

Mix together the crème fraiche, yoghurt, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and celery salt. Season with a good twist of pepper and mix thoroughly into the vegetables. Season to taste. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour for the dressing to absorb into the vegetables a little, and for all of the flavours to combine.

Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

Peel the potatoes and cut into long 1cm / 1⁄2 inch chip shapes. Wash well in cold water and pat dry. Tip onto a baking tray. Scatter over the polenta, paprika, pinch of salt, pepper and a decent drizzle of olive oil (enough to lightly coat the potatoes). Toss together and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes, turning a few times throughout, until golden and crispy.

The Flexible Vegetarian

by Jo Pratt,
£20 (Frances Lincoln)

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