Veggie Burger Triumph! – at last..

After various busy weekends of moving house and seeing friends I got the chance on Monday to spend a bit of quality time in the kitchen again.

A colleague recently recommended The Really Hungry Burger recipe by Anna Jones.

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My experience of making veggie burgers is limited to a particularly frustrating lesson in school where instead of being given the chance to follow a veggie burger recipe I was forced to follow the same beef burger recipe as everyone else, just replacing minced beef for Quorn mince; needless to say this did not work and I imagine there were many ‘told you so’ glares at my teacher from my 14yearoldself.

In addition to this pointless food technology lesson I have never found veggie burgers very inspiring. I often prefer the meat substitute, ready-made Quorn or Soya burgers to the bean or vegetable based burgers in many recipes.

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Partly this is down to texture, I think it is important that a veggie burger doesn’t squish out of the side of your bun when you bite into it, and vegetable and bean burgers are often too mushy for my taste. I also find many veggie burgers too heavily spiced; the classic spicy bean burger is not what I want in between my white sesame seed bun, plastic cheese, mayo and iceberg lettuce. Obviously this is down to personal preference, and maybe I’m a bit of a heathen in this respect, but I want something ‘meaty’ – savoury and with some texture.

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As well as having a cool name The Really Hungry Burger appealed to me because ingredients-wise it seemed promising. Mushrooms, thyme, parsley, tahini and soy sauce – all earthy flavours and whilst some mushy beans are required to hold the mix together, the majority of the ‘filler’ is brown rice – great for texture.

I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it pretty much to the letter (I used breadcrumbs not oats).

I wasn’t disappointed, the burgers browned up really well in the oven and held together much better than other veggie burgers, the outside of them were toasty and had a nice chew. The flavour was great, however next time I would probably slightly reduce the lemon zest or possibly leave it out all together. It wasn’t an unpleasant flavour but again I would have preferred more of a deep earthly taste than the zestyness that the lemon provides.
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I served them on classic burger buns with vegan (violife) cheese, avocado, red onion and tomato with sweet potato chips on the side. It’s a recipe I would definitely recommend you try and I’m excited to get out the ones I have in the freezer for a quick tea one evening. Thanks Anna!

Find the recipe here and give it a go! http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/really-hungry-burger

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The Last (Non-Vegan) Supper; Solita, The Northern Quarter

Halloween was my last day as a vegetarian before starting my Vegan Challenge for the month of November. It also happened to be the first Friday after pay day and a few of us from work had arranged to go out for food and (a few, which turned into many) drinks.

Solita on Turner Street in the Northern Quarter had been suggested and although it primarily looked like a burger joint I liked the look of the menu. Rather than having one vegetarian burger option the menu revealed that any of the meat burgers could be substituted for either a veggie bean burger or halloumi cheese. That way I could still have the pick of all the exciting toppings and variations!

When we arrived we were shown to our big round booth, it was good that we could all see each other and chat together this way. We ordered drinks – I had a Rum infused Cuban beer called Bachata; it was tasty and at £3.75, not too pricey. Some of the other had cocktails and they looked good but were around the £7 mark.

The menu was the same as the one I’d looked at online and after glancing over the starters and deciding against the amazing sounding ‘Lucky 7’ (7 Layers of Guacamole, re-fried beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, olives. Served with blue corn tortilla chips)  I just needed to pick my burger. There was lots to choose from , I could have opted for the ‘Jack Daddy’ with toppings of onion rings, Monterey Jack cheese and Jack Daniel’s grill sauce or the ‘Catalan’ with roasted red peppers, manchego  cheese and roasted tomato aioli.

In the end I went for ‘The Big Manc’; brioche bun, iceberg, home pickles, Monterey Jack cheese and Big Manc sauce. Usually coming with 2 x 6oz minced chuck steak patties I decided to swap them for the halloumi (make the most of being able to eat cheese!). All of the main courses come with skin on fries, I could have decided to upgrade these to sweet potato fries or cheesy curly fries but didn’t feel it was necessary given the double-deckeredness of my burger.

I should also note that when I was ordering I asked about prices; would my vegetarian burger price reflect that of the meat counterpart? The answer was no 🙂 as long as I wasn’t adding meat to my veggie burger mine would cost £8.90…much cheaper than the meat ones!

My burger came and didn’t disappoint. It was huge and looked impressive compared to every else’s measly one-tiered burgers! The brioche bun was soft and tasty, the halloumi had been fried in a crispy coating of polenta which gave it nice crunch around the edges, there were plenty of pickles and lots of Big Manc sauce which was creamy and tangy. The fries were also delicious. Any criticism would be down to my ordering. Realistically there was too much cheese – not only 2 large halloumi patties but also the Monterey Jack cheese. I was stuffed by the end of it and had to leave some of the halloumi – on reflection next time I would probably just ask for one patty and go for the bean burger so as to cut down the risk of a heart attack from cheese overload!

Overall I was impressed with Solita it was nice to have the same amount of choice as everyone else and I would definitely go back again. 4/5

The Veggie Big Manc