I have to confess: I’m a lapsed vegetarian. Not once had I longed for lamb or craved crispy bacon…
…until I started writing a food blog. I know that’s hardly an excuse for sliding back into carnivorousness, but that is the whole truth and nothing but.
I only mention it because, when I was a practicing veggie, few things disappointed me more than vegetarian burgers. They were almost invariably made from a mixture of mushed beans, flecked with sweetcorn or some such and slathered in cheese or sweet chili sauce to mask how blandly bland they were. Tofu can help give a burger a little more texture and mushrooms can provide a satisfyingly savoury hit, but it’s nothing like a succulent flame-grilled beef patty.
And why should it be, I suppose? It’s not an easy task trying to recreate the glory of something traditionally made from meat using only pulses, nuts and vegetables. Hand on heart, I’m not sure we really need meat-free versions of everything conventionally carnivorous: fish-free king prawns, steak-less steak Diane, doner kebab. Vegetarian food is perfectly capable of holding its own without dressing up as meat. And the burger herein is a fine example.
It is a burger, in as much as it works well in a brioche bun with a little lettuce and tomato, but like any quinoa ‘burger’, it has it’s own style. The quinoa gives it a good texture, the mint and shallot provide a punchy flavour and the dukkah adds a little twist.
Quinoa, Mint & Dukkah Burger
(makes about six)
150g quinoa, uncooked
2 large shallots, minced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
25g mint leaves, chopped
a handful of parsley, stalks and all, chopped
4 or 5 tablespoons of dukkah
a little salt
1. Start by cooking the quinoa, draining it and leaving it to cool down.
2. In a bowl, add all the other ingredients to the quinoa and mix thoroughly. You should have a mixture that clumps together fairly well when squished. If not you can always add more egg to help bind it.
3. Leave it to chill for half an hour in the fridge before pulling it out and forming it into patties.
4. Fry the patties in a little oil until golden brown on both sides.
5. I opted to serve it in a spelt brioche bun with avocado, rocket and tomato, but you can serve it any which way your heart desires*.