I’ve decided to have a go at posting my first recipe (or more accurately, experiment!). I was inspired by a recipe for veggie burgers that I saw Fearne Cotton demonstrate on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch last week (recipe here). Knowing that I wouldn’t get away with her liberal use of beetroot (Husband isnot a fan) I began to think of variations I could make to her recipe not only to suit him, but Baba as well.
I reckoned I could make chicken and veg burgers using shredded cooked chicken breast, but any vegetarians or vegans could easily substitute this for mashed up beans or even cooked red lentils.
I should warn you in advance I am one of those annoying cooks who uses a bit of this and a bit of that, rather than an exact measurement. The great thing about these burgers is that it is very hard to go wrong so a splash and a dollop here and there are unlikely to upset the apple cart too much (ooh, apple tart).
The first thing I did was put on half a cup of quinoa to cook. No wait, actually, first I set the fan oven to 200°C. Then I tackled the quinoa. It was the first time I ever cooked quinoa so I just followed the instructions and I have to say, it is easy. Hello new addition to my life! The next thing I did was shred two chicken breasts which I had cooked in the oven the night before, just wrapped in foil with half a lemon, nothing fancy. It looked like this:
Then I looked in the bottom drawer of the fridge to see what was on offer and surfaced with some broccoli, a carrot, a scallion, a courgette, half a red pepper and some peas and corn left over from last night’s dinner.
With the aid of my trusty food processor — which, I will add sheepishly, is my absolute pride and joy — I grated the carrot, scallion, broccoli, red pepper and half the courgette. I then added this to the bowl with the chicken and the peas and corn.
Next I dumped in the quinoa and added one teaspoon of cumin and two teaspoons of smoked paprika and gave everything a good mix. Normally I would also have added a good pinch of salt because I think it really brings out the best in cumin, but given that I was planning for Baba to eat this too I decided to leave it out – it can always be added at mealtime.
Then I added 2 beaten eggs and about 4 tablespoons of flour. I used white flour because that’s what was in the press but I’m sure wholemeal flour or any alternative would work just as well. It is fairly important though as it helps bind everything together. I did think that vegans could possibly use a good dollop (now, that’s a metric dollop!) of nut butter to bind it together. If you do try that, please let me know how it goes!
I had two baking trays ready to go with about a tablespoon of oil rubbed onto the surface of each of them. Then I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands and got stuck in. There is something so pleasant about mushing food around in your hands. I can see why Baba enjoys it so much. Grab a good handful and that will make a decent sized burger. A good tip for forming the burgers is first to squeeze it into a ball, squashing it gently the whole time, then hold it on the palm of one hand and slap the other hand down on top of it. Then go round the edges to even them off.
Each burger was placed on a baking tray and straight into the oven. After about 15 minutes I turned them over and let them cook for another 15 minutes on that side.
And voilà! We had 6 large chicken and veggie burgers plus one small Baba-sized portion. We ate ours with some new potatoes, and I brought one to work for lunch the next day. It was delicious sandwiched into a crusty pumpkin seed roll.
Now, I’m no nutritionist but I’d say these burgers are high in fibre, low in fat and full of good stuff. And even if that wasn’t true, they’re yummy and satisfying and make a good meal out of the scraps in the fridge! Who could beat that?
If you try out this recipe please let me know how it goes, or post a picture of the finished product to my Facebook page. And of course, I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions.
Instead of giving an ingredients list I have highlighted the things I used for the burgers in bold. In the same way, I encourage you to be bold and experiment with whatever you have in your own fridge. You could even use mashed potato now that I think of it. The quantities are not that important, although I would recommend you stick to the suggested amounts of cumin and smoked paprika. They are both delicious —smoked paprika is a particular favourite of mine — but cumin especially can be overpowering and remember, it’s much easier to add in more than forensically extract some with a teaspoon and a shaky hand. Don’t do it, you’ll be picking lumps of carrot out of the spice jar for weeks. And if you use a lot of a wetter vegetable like courgette, you might need to add a little bit more flour to help it stick together.