Veggie Burgers

A veggie burger can be a myriad of things, from a pre-made meat substitute patty like quoin to  a big, juicy cooked mushroom with mustard through to a couple of slices of halloumi with a minty salsa. A good vegetarian burger can be worth eating but too often is just a boring afterthought.

This is a recipe for a cashew and chestnut burger spiked with a quick chilli and onion pickle and a Tabasco-spiked cornichon mayonnaise – a classier version of a much-loved burger sauce that shall remain nameless. It would work well, too, with avocado and hummus, cheddar and a tomato chutney, or your favourite burger toppings.

These burgers freeze well and can work well on a barbecue. I usually make double the burger mixture and freeze half. If I am feeling virtuous, I wrap the burgers in spring greens instead of buns.

Makes 6
For the burgers
200g unsalted cashews, soaked overnight if you have time
200g cooked vac-packed chestnuts
1 small red onion, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
150g breadcrumbs
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp soy or tamari sauce
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil, for frying

For the pickle
2 medium red onions
2 red chillies
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the relish
10 cornichons
3 tbsp good mayonnaise
1 tsp Tabasco
A good pinch of smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper

To serve
6 burger buns
½ iceberg or cos lettuce, shredded

1 First, make your burgers. Put the cashew nuts and chestnuts into a food processor and blitz to a fineish breadcrumb texture. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil and mix well. Wet your hands and shape the mix into 6 patties. Lay them on an oven tray lined with baking paper and put them in the freezer to firm up for 5 minutes or so.

2 Meanwhile, make the pickle. Finely slice the onions and chillies and put them into a bowl with the fennel seeds, honey, vinegar and a good pinch of salt. Scrunch a little with your hands then put to one side.

3 Next, make the relish. Finely slice the cornichons and put into a bowl with the mayonnaise, Tabasco, paprika, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.

4 Warm a little oil over a low heat and fry the burgers for 5–7 minutes, turning until they are brown all over. They can also be baked in the oven at 220C/425F/gas mark 7 for 12 minutes or barbecued for a few minutes on each side.

5 Toast your burger buns, spread the bottom half with the cornichcon mayonnaise, pile on the lettuce, top with a burger and then the pickle.

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