I’m a vegetarian, but I love burgers. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t. There are some very good veggie burgers to be had out there, but there are also some very, very bad veggie burgers out there too: any fellow vegetarians will know which ones I mean when I attempt to describe those bright yellow drier-than-a-camel’s-tongue ‘burgers’, which I can only guess are made out of cardboard and sandpaper, peppered with chunks of unidentifiable vegetables.
I think where many restaurants go wrong is in thinking that vegetarian burgers need to involve a burger in some shape or form, but really a veggie burger does not necessarily need to include a meat substitute at all. I believe that the way to make a really good veggie burger is to think of it more as a really good hot vegetable and cheese sandwich, and you can’t go wrong.
One of the best burgers that I’ve eaten recently was at Almost Famous, the ‘secret’ burger restaurant in Manchester. Their veggie burger, called the ‘Alicia Silverstone’ (it’s not on the menu by the way, you have to be in the know to ask for it), consists of a large flat mushroom, topped with halloumi cheese, fried onions, and plenty of salad – absolutely delicious, and not a fake burger in sight.
The Alicia Silverstone Burger.
Similarly, Byron Burger in London does a lovely mushroom-based veggie-friendly ‘burger’. Theirs is made up of a grilled Portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, goat’s cheese, aioli and baby spinach, and I would safely say that the burger I had there was one of the best that I have ever eaten.
Byron’s Vegetarian Burger.
“But what if I don’t like mushrooms?!” I hear you cry. Don’t worry, all is not lost. The Diner in London does a lovely burger, made with grilled halloumi cheese, grilled red peppers, basil, & sliced avocado. No mushrooms there, but no cardboard ‘burger’ either.
The Diner’s burger – no mushrooms, but still delicious.
Of course vegetarian burgers don’t have to be nasty – some of them are actually really quite nice. It’s just a lot harder to go wrong with nice vegetables and some good cheese, than it is when you try to make some kind of meat substitute.
However, if you do fancy taking the plunge and making a veggie burger that does involve some kind of actual burger, then I would suggest using the recipe below. I’ve perfected it over many years, tried it out on many people, and every time I’ve made these burgers they have been delicious, if I do say so myself.
1 cup of plain flour
A small tin of sweetcorn (or some fresh baby corn)
1 small grated carrot
1 small onion
1 small green pepper
1 small cauliflower/half a normal sized cauliflower
- Finely chop the chili, pepper, onion, and cauliflower
- Grate the carrot and add to the chopped vegetables, together with the tin of sweetcorn (drain the sweetcorn first)
- Beat the eggs and add to the vegetable mix, together with the cup of flour
- Use your hands to shape the mix into pattie shapes, if they don’t mould easily add more flour to make the mixture firmer
- Fry in plenty of hot oil until golden brown
- Squirt the lime on after cooking, and serve with bread and salad