I feel like a bit of a fraud calling these burgers. If you’re expecting something meaty and packed with protein, abandon hope now. I call these burgers because I don’t really know what else to call them. A fritter? Maybe a vegetable pancake. Answers on the back of a postcard, please. Whatever you want to call them, they’re pretty damn delicious, fairly easy to make, quite cheap, and you know, good for you and stuff because they’re primarily made of vegetables. I tend to make them when I’m having that ‘I have consumed far too much beer and far too many cheese sandwiches’ feeling.
I didn’t follow a recipe when I first had the idea to make these, and I haven’t really come up with a recipe myself. It’s more of a method without any measurements. Start by grating the vegetables into a bowl. To make one big fat ‘burger’ for my own consumption, I tend to use half of a small carrot and half of a medium courgette. This will be a bit soggy, but you can alleviate this by putting it in a clean tea towel and squeezing the liquid out, leaving it to drain in a sieve over a bowl with something heavy on top, or mixing in a drizzle of oil and a bit of plain flour to bind it together. The choice is all yours.
Add your seasoning: salt, pepper, chilli powder, coriander, etc. Heat some oil in a frying pan, and shape the mixture into a burger-ish shape. (If you’re frightened of cooking with oil then I don’t really know what to do about that. I’m sure a cooking spray would work just fine, but I can’t imagine that baking them would yield very good results.) If you have a pastry ring that could come in handy, especially if your mixture is too loose to stay together on its own. Fry for a minute or two on each side – no more than five minutes total preferably. Pressing down on them with a spatula gets you nice crunchy caramelised bits on the outside. They’re a bit of a pain to flip, but try your best and just reshape it if it collapses. If you’ve grated more vegetables than you can possibly consume in one setting, I imagine they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
Despite the fact that I’m pretending that this is a burger, you can eat it any way you want. The first time I made it I had it with a fried egg – so nothing like a burger, but a lot like a delicious breakfast. I can also recommend stuffing it in a pitta bread with minted crème fraîche. (Tip: Use mint sauce from a jar. It tastes lovely and saves time and effort.) I’m sure it would taste great on a bed of salad, or on its own with a side of fries. This time round I had it in a bun, with cheese and guacamole, so it was a little bit like a burger. In all honesty the bread didn’t stand up half as well as pitta bread did.
If the idea of eating some grated vegetables squashed into a vaguely round shape is somewhat less than appealing to you, I think you could use this as a basis for something more substantial. I can’t help but think that mashed kidney beans would go well into the mixture, or chickpeas, and possibly some porridge oats. You could even make a huge diversion and add in some meat – I’ve eaten turkey burgers with grated courgette in them that were wonderful. If you make this (or a variation on theme) do let me know.