Can I be presumptuous enough to give you a little advice, dear reader? Good. Thanks. It’s this: never look up restaurant menus when you’re feeling hungry. Wednesday lunchtime, I found myself browsing restaurants for my trip to Oxford next week, and gawking open-mouthed at the menus.
I’m often inclined towards Thai or Japanese when I eat out, mainly because I can’t replicate it that easily at home, but recently I’ve been enjoying a bit of a ‘hearty’ food revival, as you can see from this post. I was interested to learn that a Byron burger bar had popped up in Oxford, and started perusing that menu and also that of bangers and mash based restaurant The Big Bang. I hear it’s a real sausage fest in there.
Both had something in common – a menu based around just one dish. I’ve never visited a Byron but have been meaning to for ages, and couldn’t wait to see what they had as a veggie option. I eagerly scrolled down to find….a portobello mushroom. Listen, mates. That’s not a burger. I was hugely disappointed, especially as The Big Bang menu featured proper veggie sausages such as basil and vine tomato, stilton and walnut, or wild mushroom and garlic. I was so keen to try the whole Byron experience, complete with two types of fries, banana splits to follow, and macaroni cheese listed as a SIDE order, but….a mushroom just isn’t going to cut it.
So with a bad craving for burgers that I knew Byron wouldn’t be able to satisfy, I decided to create my own veggie burger experience, with homemade buns, crispy courgette fries, and a classic iceberg wedge salad. I decided also to add a portobello mushroom as I had some nice ones through with my Riverfood delivery box, but as an accompaniment to the proper burger, not INSTEAD of it!
Proper veggie burger
For this, I fancied a slightly Mexican taste so went in with lime, kidney beans, cheese, Tabasco and cumin. You can easily adapt any spices or leave out the lime if you don’t fancy it.
1 400g can kidney beans
1 small red onion, finely chopped
75g cheddar, grated
75g breadcrumbs (I actually used half breadcrumbs, half crackers for a more savoury taste)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 dash mushroom ketchup (makes it super savoury, omit if you don’t have it)
2 shakes Tabasco
Juice of one lime
Pinch dried coriander
Flour for dusting
Oil for frying
Optional: use a beaten egg if the mixture isn’t binding
1. Drain and rinse kidney beans, then mash them with a special mashy implement (technical term), or failing that, with a fork
2. Add everything else. Mix together, don’t be afraid to get your hands into it
3. Flour your hands and shape the burgers into 4-6 patties
4. Fry in hot oil for 5 minutes on each side
250ml warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
130g plain white flour
260g bread flour
1 tbsp honey (or sugar if you prefer)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and make a well
2. Add warm water, oil and honey, and mix together
3. Knead until pliable then divide into eight
4. Roll to shape into balls, and place on baking parchment
5. Leave to rise for at least an hour
6. Heat oven at 180 degrees C, and bake rolls for 15-18 minutes before cooling on wire rack
I’m a total novice at courgette fries so I’m in no way qualified to give you my own version, so go here for a far superior recipe. I served mine with tzatziki.
Your options are pretty much limitless with this, but I went for avocado to offset the Mexican flavours of the burger, chilli jam, a grilled portobello mushroom, sliced tomato and melted cheese, with shredded iceberg lettuce on the side.