7 Days a Vegan – Red Bean & Sweet Potato Burgers

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I have to admit that I didn’t think I’d enjoy this vegan caper so much. It was a bit of a half-baked idea (pun intended) and even though I did some googling to find recipes, I didn’t so much as bother going grocery shopping the weekend before I knew I’d need to conjure up dishes from veggies.

One thing, though, that was top of mind for me the whole time was that I had to make bean or chickpea burgers. I think chef extraordinaire Trephene put up a photo of her red bean burgers on instagram, and the seeds were planted.

So, fully expecting tonight’s dinner to be nothing near as good as last night’s veggie biryani (sidebar: I took some biryani to my colleagues at work today and they loved it, men and women alike!) so I was rather casual about the whole affair.

I also didn’t take photos of each step like I did last night, as I didn’t know whether I’d struggle to embed the photos again, so pay close attention to my words.

I took a can of red beans, drained the brine, and tossed the beans into the food processor. I perched my mandolin on top of the processor bowl, and sliced in one small (and raw) sweet potato. I tossed four cardamom pods (remember I said it’s my new favorite spice?) into my mortar, and crushed the pods open, before tossing the seeds into the bean-and-sweet-potato mix. In went three pinches of chermoula spice, a generous amount of saltt, a dash of found cumin, and some snips of fresh parsley.

I blitzed the whole lot up, and even though I had reserved some of the red bean brine in case I need it, the mix was much too runny. I searched my cupboards for some semolina, but alas it was nowhere to be seen, so I tossed in about a handful of raw couscous (this turned out to be a stroke of genius!) and about three desert-spoons of flour. Add the flour one spoon at a time, checking the consistency after each spoonful.

In a non-stick pan I poured in quite a generous amount of canola oil and heated it right up. Once it was hot, I spooned out two spoons of the red bean mix, squished it into an approximation of a ball, then placed it in the hot oil, flattening it out once it was in the pan (this is why the non-stick bit is so critical).

Once fried and all goldeny-like, I flipped the patties over very carefully indeed, and fried the other side, before placing aside on a plate to rest.

While the patties were frying up, I toasted some pita bread, then spread some tahini and red pepper hummus (both vegan spreads from my local Spar), then layered on finely-sliced red onion and a mix of baby spinach, watercress, and coriander leaves on top. The patty went on top of the leaves, then I spread some sundried tomato on top, and it was foodie time!!!

Verdict: I’m not supposed to like vegan food this much. It was delectable. Did it taste like meat? No. But that wasn’t the point. I think where vegetarian food goes wrong is where people try to approximate the taste and texture of meat. I refuse to eat tofu or nutritional wheat, whatever the hell that is.

What made the meal: the couscous was a brilliant touch, if I do say so myself (if I do say so myself – JayZ voice). It added texture and crunch and depth of flavor. Semolina wouldn’t have worked this well.

What I would do differently: this would have been so much better with some sliced cucumber in there! I’m definitely picking up some cucumbers on the way home from work tomorrow; there are few veggies I can tolerate and even fewer I actually like!

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