Portobello Pecan Burger with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges

Peace and Parsnips
From the book Peace and Parsnips
By Lee Watson
Buy on Amazon / Hive / Waterstones

Here we have a burger that is rich, with a deep flavour from the mushrooms, cumin and miso. It is packed with heavy umami flavours, with the seaweed, pecans and miso working their potent charms. Sun-blushed tomatoes can be found in most delis nowadays and ooze fragrant tomato all over this burger. If you are struggling to find them, I know some fantastic people on the Isle of Wight who can sort you out. This burger mix will keep very well in the fridge, 5 days easy. Try making it into ‘meatballs’, with a tomato sauce and pasta. Gluten-free option: just cook 25g more rice and omit the breadcrumbs.

Makes 6–8 mammoth burgers

Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil
350g Portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes
1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
a large pinch of sea salt and black pepper
3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
20g dried seaweed, cut into very fine ribbons
175g flageolet beans, soaked overnight, then cooked with ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and cooled, or 1½ x 400g tins
120g toasted pecans
100g red or brown rice, cooked and cooled
2 heaped tbsp brown miso
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g fine wholewheat breadcrumbs
For the pumpkin wedges:
750g pumpkin, scrubbed, seeded and cut into 5cm wedges
2 tbsp vegetable oil
a large pinch of sea salt
To serve:
8 seeded wholewheat rolls, halved (for gluen-free aternative, use your favourite GF bread)
1 big handful sun-blushed tomatoes
buttery lettuce leaves (something like oak-leaf)

Essential kit

You will need a food processor.

Instructions

To make the pumpkin wedges, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, toss with the oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes, turning over once. The pumpkin should be tender and nicely coloured.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy frying pan on a medium-low heat and add the mushrooms and aubergines. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Stir in the oregano leaves and set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seaweed and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and combine with the aubergines and mushrooms.

In a food processor, combine half the beans, pecans, aubergine mix and rice with the miso, sifting in the bicarbonate of soda. Blitz to a thick paste. Add the breadcrumbs and the rest of the beans, rice and aubergine mix, along with the rest of the pecans. Pulse until a chunky mix forms, coarse in texture but finely chopped. Check the seasoning – the miso is quite salty. Transfer the mix to a bowl, combining it all well with your hands. Form the mix into 6–8 fat burgers. Put them into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Pop an ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat and lightly oil it. Cook each burger for 5 minutes per side, until beautifully light brown. If they lose shape and are unruly in the pan, press them down using the back of a spatula. Veggie burgers are sensitive and need to be handled with soft hands (and spatulas).

Put all the burgers into a warm oven, 150°C/gas mark 2, for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Cut your bread rolls in half and put them into the warm oven for 5 minutes. On the base of each warm roll, scatter sun-blushed tomatoes (with a little of their oil) and top with a lettuce leaf, the burger and a good topping of tarragon aioli. Serve with the warm pumpkin wedges.

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