Thursday, July 12, 2007


I am quite happy to admit that when it comes to burgers, vegetarians are left on the sidelines, chewing a bit of cardboard. There's not a bean in the world that could tempt a carnivore to pick up a beanburger at a barbeque. Apart from the texture, it's very difficult to get a good, intense flavour that can stand up to barbequing, followed by the onslaught of floury baps and puddles of ketchup. Most veggie-burgers sort of morph into a vaguely vegetably slodge, if they haven't already collapsed over the barbeque grill. Shop-bought burgers are fine, although they're basically chopped vegetables in breadcrumbs, and don't you know it when you bite into that bun. How are we supposed to compete with a generous beef-burger, oozing its own fatty juices, that actually gains in flavour sitting on the barbie?

And don't give me vegetable kebabs or pretend-meat burgers. I want good, honest flavour, and lots of it. So, although I know nobody wants it, here's my best beanburger recipe. I've done a pretty good job of selling myself out. But if you're a vegetarian, and you fancy slapping some homemade burgers on the barbeque next time you're entertaining al fresco, perhaps you'll enjoy these. Add as much seasoning as you like, and pile the bap high with extra goodies.

(makes 6)

1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1tbsp sunflower oil

Saute the vegetables in the oil until soft, then add:

¾ cup red lentils
1 cup vegetable stock

Simmer for 10 minutes, on a very low heat, lid on.

In a bowl combine:
1 cup cooked/tinned kidney beans
1slice bread, chopped finely into breadcrumbs
1 beaten egg
1tsp paprika
1tsp chilli powder or Tabasco
1-2 tsp soy sauce
2 heaped tsp tomato puree

Add the mushy lentil mixture and then put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Flour your hands generously and shape into burgers (it will be sticky but firm).

Fry in a little oil, sear on a hot-plate, or bake in a medium oven for 25 minutes (they will be drier if you bake them).

Serve with different toppings – be imaginative, and pack in extra flavour. Try home-made mayonnaise, onion rings, rocket, and beansprouts!