Living

Once bitten

OMG, burgers – is there anything better? One mouthful of the epic vegetarian versions in Green Burgers and you might renounce all other foodstuffs.

Chickpea & grilled pepper burgers with dill-dunked cucumber salad

Makes 6

3 red peppers (capsicums)
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g oven-baked onions (see below)
500g (3 cups) cooked chickpeas
3 garlic cloves
2 eggs
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
50g (1 cup) panko breadcrumbs
Rapeseed or peanut oil
6 burger buns
Butter

Oven-baked onions (makes about 500g)
4 onions
2 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cucumber salad
2 cucumbers
1 bunch of dill, plus a few extra heads
Zest of 1 lemon
Sesame seeds
Olive oil

Preheat the grill to 250°C. Halve the peppers, remove the cores and seeds, then place on a baking tray with the skins facing up. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then grill until the skin is black. Remove and transfer to a plastic bag. Allow to cool, then rub or pull off the skin and cut the flesh into pieces.
To make the oven-baked onions, heat the oven to 200°C. Peel the onions, cut into quarters and place them in an ovenproof dish with the butter. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then bake in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes or until they’ve developed some colour – they can even be a little burnt. Remove and allow to cool.
Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and drain in a colander. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Lightly whisk the eggs in a food processor, then add the grilled pepper, oven-baked onions, chickpeas, garlic, paprika powder, chilli powder, panko breadcrumbs and some salt. Pulse-blend so the ingredients are well combined, but not too finely blended.
Shape handfuls of the mixture into 6 round patties by hand or using a food ring. Put the patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably longer, so they’ll hold together better when you fry them.
To make the cucumber salad, shave the cucumbers lengthways using a vege peeler. (If you want to, you can remove the seeds first so the cucumbers release less water.) Put the cucumber slices in a bowl and mix in some sprigs of dill, the lemon zest and sesame seeds, plus some dill heads. Drizzle with a little olive oil and carefully turn using your hands. (Avoid using any implements, or the cucumber may get squeezed to pieces.) Season to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and pour in a little rapeseed or peanut oil. Fry the patties for a few minutes on both sides until they develop a nice colour and a crispy surface. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake for 5-10 minutes.
Butter the cut surfaces of the buns, then quickly fry in a pan or grill in the oven. To assemble, place a patty on the bottom half of each bun and top with the cucumber salad, plus a few extra dill heads, if you like.

Pulled sweet potato burgers with feta, marjoram & black vinegar mix

Makes 6

Rapeseed oil
6 medium-sized sweet potatoes
6 tbsp coarse sea salt
6 burger buns, cut in half
Butter
300g feta
Fresh marjoram or oregano

Roasted pepper seasoning
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp Sichuan pepper
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

Black vinegar mix
2 spring onions
2 tbsp dark malt or red wine vinegar
3 cloves black garlic
1 tsp roasted pepper seasoning (see above)
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Make the roasted pepper seasoning for the black vinegar mix by heating a dry cast-iron pan over a medium heat. Toast the coriander seeds, Sichuan pepper and black peppercorns until the seeds start to turn golden brown and there’s a definite spice aroma. Pound the spices in a mortar or mix them to a fine powder with a hand blender. Store in a jar.
Make the black vinegar mix by cutting off the green tops of the spring onions, placing the tops on a baking tray lined with baking paper and grilling them in the oven for about 20 minutes until they’re completely black. Thinly slice the white parts of the spring onions and reserve for garnishing. Put the burnt tops in a blender or food processor and mix to a fine powder. Add the vinegar, black garlic and 1 teaspoon of the roasted pepper seasoning and mix until smooth. Add sea salt to taste.
Heat some oil in a frying pan until it starts to smoke. Fry the whole sweet potatoes until the skins are crispy and on the verge of burning, then transfer them to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft.
Split the potatoes lengthways and carefully scoop out the insides with a spoon – try to get the flesh out in one go so it doesn’t get mashed. Discard the skins.
Butter the cut surfaces of the buns, then quickly fry in a pan or grill in the oven.
To assemble, shape the sweet potato flesh into 6 round patties by hand or using a food ring. Place a patty on the bottom half of each bun. Brush on the black vinegar mix, crumble over some feta and top off with sliced spring onions and a little fresh marjoram or oregano.

Quinoa & sweet potato burgers with horseradish sour cream, shallots and chives

Makes 6

600g (3 medium-sized) sweet potatoes
2 eggs
100g (1 cup) chickpea flour
1 tsp chilli powder, preferably espelette
1 tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp walnut butter or other nut butter
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt
200g (1 cup) cooked quinoa
3 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish
300g (1¼ cups) sour cream
Rapeseed or peanut oil
6 burger buns, cut in half
Butter
Finely sliced red Asian shallots
Finely chopped fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the sweet potatoes in an ovenproof dish and bake in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes or until they’re soft all the way through. Split lengthways and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, discarding the skins.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a food processor using a knife blade. Add the sweet potato, chickpea flour, chilli powder, mustard, nut butter, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt, and pulse-blend until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the quinoa. Turn the mixture with a spoon so everything is well blended.
Shape handfuls of the mixture into 6 round patties by hand or using a food ring. Put the patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably longer, so they’ll hold together better when you fry them. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Mix the horseradish and sour cream in a bowl. Add sea salt to taste and put to one side.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, then fry the patties on both sides over a medium heat until they develop a little colour and a nice surface. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Butter the cut surfaces of the buns, then quickly fry in a pan or grill in the oven.
To assemble, place a patty on the bottom half of each bun, splash on some of the horseradish sour cream and top with the sliced shallots and chives.

Recipes & Photography Martin Nordin

Edited extract from Green Burgers by Martin Nordin. Published by Hardie Grant, $30.