Saturday, 27 April 2013

Veggie Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

Please note: You need a food processor to follow this recipe

Home-made veggie burgers can be a bit of a divisive subject - there are so many great pre-made versions available that the effort involved in making your own can seem unnecessary. However, they're so dead easy to knock up and hold endless room for adaptation and reinvention. Everyone's got their own 'perfect' veggie burger, and here's mine!

Additional tips: a renowned issue with veggie burgers is the difficulty getting them to hold together. This is partly just the nature of the beast and something you'll just have to put up with, but there are a couple of things you can do to improve matters.

- Make sure your pan is really hot before you add your burger, so that the side seals immediately rather than just going soggy and falling apart

- When flipping, use the biggest spatula/slice thing that you can find in your kitchen

- Try and flip them in one swift movement, like a burger ninja!

Makes around 8 burgers - enough sweet potato chips for two (the rest of the burger mix will keep in the fridge or, if already formed into patties, will even freeze!)

What you need

3 slices of bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
1 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 400g tin of cannelini beans (or any other white beans!), drained and rinsed.
2 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 spring onions, chopped
a handful of fresh coriander
1 red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
an egg
2 smallish sweet potatoes (1 each - use more if you're doing the full 8 burgers)

What to do

First prepare your chips: peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into thin chips. Lay them out on an oven tray - in a single layer so they go crisp - and drizzle with oil. Put them in at 180 degrees on the middle shelf for 30 minutes.

While they're in there crisping up, make your burgers. It's pretty much as simple as slapping it all in a food processor: in go the breadcrumbs, both tins of beans, the chillies, the garlic, the spring onions, the coriander, the red pepper and the egg. Season well with salt and pepper and pulse until roughly blended.

Form into patties and roll in flour. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Your chips should only have been in for about 5 to 10 minutes at this point, so you've still got time to fry your burgers.

When they've had time to chill, heat up a little bit of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the patties for a couple of minutes each side.

Serve in a bun with lettuce, tomato and a slice of cheese, with your chips on the side.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Paneer and Spinach Curry

I only gave paneer a try about a year ago and I love it for several reasons: it's delicious, you can fry or grill it and it keeps its shape, it's cheap and it's low-ish in fat compared to other cheeses.

You can apparently make your own at home very easily, see advice on how at We Don't Eat Anything With a Face - must confess I've never tried it myself because it's so cheap and readily available where I live, so let me know if anyone has a crack at it!

This curry isn't intended to be particularly hot so I've only included one green chilli, but if you do prefer a bit more fire you can substitute for one or more red chillies and keep the seeds in.

So that you're not stressed out trying to prep and watch the pan at the same time, it's worth doing all your chopping, grating, crushing and what have you beforehand. 

You can easily veganise this by making sure you fry in oil rather than ghee, and using either cubed tofu or pre-boiled potatoes in place of the paneer.

Serve with rice, naan, chappattis, raita... whatever you feel like!

Serves 2-3 (2 greedy people, or 2 normal appetites with leftovers)

What you need

2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, chopped
1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
a thumb sized nubbin of ginger, grated
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
227g pack of paneer (size as sold in Sainsburys), cut into smallish cubes
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
A pinch of salt
500g bag of spinach
chopped coriander to garnish

What to do

Heat up your oil or ghee over a medium heat, then add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. Turn down the heat a little if necessary so that you can just sweat them all together until soft rather than browning - this should take around 5-7 minutes.

Add the dry spices and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomatoes and a little salt to taste, then leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, heat up a little oil in a separate pan - preferably non-stick - then add your paneer. Keep turning it until it's brown on all sides, then set to one side. You need to add this right at the end or it'll go soggy.

Once the sauce has been simmering for a while, it should have reduced down quite a bit. This is good. Loads of water will come out of the spinach once you add it, so your sauce even needs to look a bit on the dry side.

Add your spinach - the easiest way is a handful at a time, waiting for the last handful to wilt in before adding another. Cook for another minute until all the spinach is soft and wilted in, then stir in the fried paneer.

Garnish with coriander if you're a fan, serve with whatever accompaniments you fancy, and enjoy!