Herby bean burgers

These hearty bean burgers are packed with tasty goodness. They’re the perfect veggie option for summer barbecues and are a great base to add tasty toppings to, like halloumi cheese, mediterranean roasted vegetables and salad.

Herby bean burgersSummer has finally arrived; the weather has been absolutely scorching this week, so inevitably the London air has been taken over by the wonderful smell of barbecue smoke. I’ve been craving burgers, salads and some fizzy cider to wash it all down with.

I’ve been trying to make an effort to buy in season produce of late, so the inspiration for making these burgers came from broad beans being grown on home soil.

The broad beans bring a nice firm texture to the burger, whereas the butter beans balance things out with their softness. The onion, herbs and marmite work together well to add subtle, earthy flavours and the oats and egg bind the patties together for a classic shape.

This recipe makes four burgers. You could have two in buns with salad for a filling main course, or one each as part of a BBQ with other vegetarian options like vegetable kebabs and sausages.

Ingredients

  • 200g broad beans, removed from their pods (though it’s cheaper to buy them frozen or tinned)
  • 200g butter beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus some more for frying)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • Plenty of seasoning

Method

1. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, add the broad beans and butter beans, and cook for three minutes, then drain in a colander.
3. Tip the beans and the onion mixture into a large bowl, add the parsley and marmite, season well and stir everything together. Use a hand blender to mash the ingredients up until they form a thick, smooth paste.
4. Add the oats and egg to the bowl and stir in with a wooden spoon. Leave the mixture for 10-15 minutes, so the oats can soak up the egg.
5. At this point, I started to prep my sides, like some homemade guacamole and halloumi cheese. Depending on what you want to serve the burgers with, you can use this time to get other bits ready.
6. Here comes the fun bit. Using your hands, divide the mixture up into four mounds, and shape each one into a round burger shape.
7. Using your frying pan from earlier, pour in a further tablespoon of olive oil and put on a medium heat.
8. Add each of the burgers to the pan and squash them down with a fish slice, so they’re a decent size and not too thick. Fry them for five to seven minutes on each side, or until they brown up.
9. Serve in wholemeal buns with fresh salad and sauces of your choice. I always recommend having cheese on a burger, and halloumi goes really well with these. You might also like to add some roasted pepper and onion. The more toppings, the better!

This recipe is based on Pat’s Broad Bean Burgers recipe from one of my favourite veggie cookbooks, Leon Fast Vegetarian.

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Where to eat vegetarian food in New York City

I recently got back from a week in New York; the longest city break I’ve ever been on. While I was of course looking forward to doing all of the touristy things and sightseeing, as with all holidays I go on, the top activity on my to do list was to eat, drink and be merry; to seek out all of the lavish American food and drink I could get my greedy mitts on. We ate and drank out a lot. I researched some eateries before heading out there, a couple of which we visited. Some great, some not so good. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this holiday is: never eat vegan cheese. No enjoyment can be had, just sheer disappointment. I’ve picked out my top five edible highlights of the week, covering everything from burgers to sushi in and around Manhattan and Brooklyn:

Mac ‘n’ cheese: Teddy’s Bar and Grill, Williamsburg

Mac and cheese

Teddy’s mac ‘n’ cheese

First and very much foremost is the ultimate comfort food, mac ‘n’ cheese. The warm, creamy, cheesy hug in a dish. Teddy’s Bar and Grill is a historic gem in amongst the trendy offerings of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Established in 1887, it’s no wonder this historic drinking hole looks like a traditional Sam Smith’s style pub you’d find in central London. The place is bursting with character, the staff are friendly and we had no trouble getting a table. I’m not sure that the photo above really does this meal justice, but it’s up there with the best mac ‘n’ cheese I’ve ever tried. I’m salivating just thinking about it. With a mixture of three cheeses – gruyere, parmesan and cheddar, breadcrumbs and mixed greens with a simple side salad, each creamy mouthful leaves you feeling warm and happy. Wash it down with a pint of local Kelso pilsner and you’re in for a top night.

Veggie burger and fries: Shake Shack, various locations across NYC

Shake Shack mushroom burger and fries

‘Shroom burger and crinkle cut fries

Shake Shack is the new fast food craze. On the flight out to NYC, I read the latest edition of Glamour magazine, where Taylor Swift rated it as one of her favourite places to eat. And the girl speaks sense. I found myself in two different Shacks over the week, once for frozen custard ice cream and the other burger and fries. I think veggie burgers are really hard to get right. Often unimaginative and either horribly soggy or bone dry, it’s unusual to come across a show-stopping meatfree patty. But Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger is an absolute delight: a succulent portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese in crispy breadcrumbs with fresh salad and signature ShackSauce. And their crinkle cut fries are amazing. If you’re in NYC any time soon and after some fresh and tasty fast food, stop by a Shake Shack if you can – there are branches all across the city. The only downside is that they list the number of calories in each different dish. This is an occasion when ignorance is most definitely bliss.

Contemporary Japanese dining: MoMo Sushi Shack

Vegan gyoza

Vegan gyoza

We ended up in this place by chance; having been told we’d have to wait up to an hour and a half to get a table at Roberta’s Pizza next door. I don’t care how good the pizza is, I’m not being told by a blase hipster that I’m going to have to wait that long. I’m getting too old to be bothered about the hype of those kind of places. Luckily, MoMo was an absolute delight. They got us a table within minutes, the staff were really attentive and the food was healthy and innovative. With a wealth of vegan and vegetarian options, we got a mixture of Japanese-inspired dishes, including rice croquettes filled with squash, sage, walnut and mozzarella, vegan gyoza and sushi inside tofu skin.

Classic margherita pizza pie: Grimaldi’s

If you want a traditional, freshly made Italian-American pizza from one of the best rated pizza places in New York, then get yourself to Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. What makes it special? The freshly made pizza pies (as the locals call them) are cooked in a coal-fire oven which gives them a unique taste; the buffalo mozzarella is delivered daily from a local supplier; and the place is family-run (albeit with a history of ridiculous feuds).

Grimaldi's pizza

Grimaldi’s margherita pizza

Be prepared to wait as there is usually a queue out the door, unless you go on the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour – which I highly recommend – then you can skip the queues and get straight down to eating. It’s a bus tour hosted by local Brooklynite tour guides that shows you some interesting sights of Brooklyn, including locations from famous films like Saturday Night Fever. They take you out to Coney Island and back, and you get to eat good pizza at two stops along the way. It’s my kind of tour.

Eco-friendly vegan dining: Candle 79

Mezze platter

Mezze platter

Candle 79 was the fanciest place we ate at while in New York. Located in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, the exclusively vegan restaurant prides itself on its local, seasonal and organic produce. I kicked things off with one of their eco cocktails, the ‘Tree Hugger’, made up of a number of ingredients I’d never tried before, including hibiscus liquer and huckleberries. It was a classy start to the meal. A lot of the starters were quite traditional, like a mediterranean inspired mezze platter of houmous, babaganoush, flatbread et al, and options like vegan nachos.

Cannoli

Cannoli with a chocolate chip vanilla cream filling, coconut ice cream and a chocolate drizzle

Where as, the mains were really innovative including dishes such as spaghetti and wheat balls and herb-grilled cauliflower steak. There’s a wealth of choice to either dare to try something new and exciting or stay safe with something classic. The atmosphere was romantic, the service was slick and the vegan coconut ice cream we had with our cannoli dessert was amazing. Candle 79 proved to me that vegan food can be rich and decadent. Recommended for a special night out. I know there are hundreds of great places we didn’t get a chance to visit, but I hope this gives you some food for thought if you’re going on a veggie adventure to New York City anytime soon.