Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mexican Veggie Burgers (gluten free and vegan)

Mexican food is definitely one of my favourite cuisines – I love how the flavours, textures, and entire meal concepts are so similar to Indian food, but at the same time come together in an entirely different but equally delicious way. It helps of course that the vegetarian options are abundant making it a great option for dinner parties with my friends and family, the majority of whom adhere to a strict vegetarian diet. Recently however, quite a few people I know have in addition to their vegetarianism been avoiding gluten or dairy, which in turn has made entertaining slightly more complicated. Never one to back down from a culinary challenge I developed this recipe for Mexican inspired vegetable and bean burgers, the patty itself is entirely gluten free and can be served as it is alongside condiments and a leafy green salad, or with gluten free bread rolls making it suitable for coeliacs or those avoiding gluten for any other reason. The recipe is also dairy free with the only exception being if one wants to add cheese, soured cream or coleslaw to their burger all of which although delicious, are entirely optional. Above and beyond being a general crowd pleaser this recipe also packs in a huge punch of protein from the quinoa and beans, and when grilled and served with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo it makes for quite a healthy, well balanced meal. The extra bonus in case there weren’t enough already – although the recipe looks lengthy, all the steps are fairly straight forward and the burgers are really quick to make – happy days!

Ingredients (makes approximately 6 burgers depending on size):

120 g quinoa
250 ml water
½ tsp oregano
4 tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp salt
1 tin of black beans
1 tin of pinto beans
2 capsicums/bell peppers
1 large onion
1 jalapeno pepper (more if required)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp mustard powder
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 sweet potato
1 lime
A handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Combine the quinoa, water, oregano and 1 tsp of the garlic in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover, and leave to simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, wash the beans thoroughly and leave to drain.
  • Finely chop the capsicums, onion, and jalapeno. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok and add the chopped vegetables, remaining garlic, paprika, cumin, mustard, and cinnamon. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened and the onion is transparent. Leave aside to cool.
  • After 20 minutes of cooking the quinoa most of the water should be absorbed and the quinoa should look fluffy. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and leave aside to cool.
  • Cook the sweet potato by steaming or microwaving it until soft and tender, allow it to cool slightly before removing the skin and mashing the flesh.
  • When all of the components have reached room temperature, combine them in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze in the juice of the lime, add the coriander leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly, taste, and then add more seasoning/chilli/lime if required.
  • Take a ball of the mixture in your hand – it should hold together well without cracking or breaking apart. If the mixture does seem too dry you may need to add some more mashed sweet potato to help it stick together and form the burger patties.
  • I like to use a half cup measure to help form my burgers but you can use anything you have or just do it by eye, making them bigger or smaller as per your requirements. Keeping a bowl of clean water close to dip your hands into helps stop the mixture from sticking to you as you make the burgers, also keep an oiled baking sheet handy to place the patties on.
  • Dip your measure and your hands into the bowl of water, shake them off and scoop out your desired amount of mixture. Form the mixture into a patty and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat this process for the remaining mixture, wetting your hands and measure as and when you need to.
  • The burgers are really versatile in that you can grill, bake, or fry them as required – all the fillings are cooked so the only further cooking is to give them a nice crunch on the outside so whichever way you do it make sure the heat is fairly high to prevent the middle from drying out, and just cook on each side until it is as well done as you would like it. Any extra uncooked patties can even be frozen to cook at a later date.
  • Serve with a green salad, freshly made guacamole, pico de gallo, and for those who can have them – burger rolls, cheese and soured cream, plus any of your other favourite burger condiments, sweet potato fries make an excellent side with these too :)