This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers with Roasted Garlic Sauce

In the past few months I've become a rather obsessed user of Pinterest. It is a fantastic tool for finding delicious vegan recipes that I would never have dreamed of. It's also a great tool for spying on my omnivore friends to see what kind of food they are eating so that I can make similar things and gently introduce them to a plant-based diet. Well, that's not entirely true, I do not do anything gently, but for whatever reason there are now many recipes on my Pinterest boards that aren't vegan but that I've pinned with the comment 'to be veganised'.

One of the other habits I've developed since becoming an avid user of Pinterest is that when I'm cooking with or for someone else I tend to just refer them to my 'Savoury Things to Try' board. That way the person I'm cooking with gets to maintain the illusion that they've been involved in the choosing of the menu but I get to cook something new I already wanted to try.

(I may be a little bit of a control freak.)

Last week The Hipster came across a vegetarian (but not vegan) recipe for sweet potato burgers with roasted garlic cream and avocado from How Sweet It Is during this aforementioned process. With a few substitutions and some tweaking of the process I easily turned the vegetarian recipe to a vegan recipe.

The burgers are delicious served on wholemeal buns with the roasted garlic sauce, sliced avocado and some fresh lettuce. A side salad with green or spring onions in it compliments the dish well and makes sure you get enough greens if you are eating this as a main meal.

I would suggest starting on the sauce first since you need to roast the garlic bulbs. But once they are in the oven you can start on the burgers and come back to the sauce later.

I've given instructions for both frying and baking the burgers. We fried ours but I've had just as much success baking burgers in the past if you want to avoid the oil. Also, frying the burgers will mean they are crunchy on the outside and rather moist and smooshy on the inside. If you prefer a more solid burger then I would suggest baking them.

Roasted Garlic Sauce

2 hands/bulbs of garlic
2 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup plain Greek soya yoghurt*
1 tsp maple syrup**
extra salt & pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.

Slice the tops off the garlic bulbs so that the very tops of the garlic cloves are just exposed. This makes getting the garlic out easier later.

Gently rub the hands bulbs so that most of the loose paper comes away (so it's not so messy to deal with later) but leave at least one layer (to help keep the moisture in).

 Wrap each bulb in foil and place on a baking tray and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil onto each bulb. Place in oven for 45 minutes. Then remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, remove foil and then allow to cool completely.

Once the garlic is cooled, squeeze each clove into a food processor or blender along with yoghurt and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Add seasoning and then blend again for a few seconds.

* To make Greek soya yoghurt from your ordinary soya yoghurt, just strain through cheesecloth into a medium sized bowl (I use some leftover muslin from a top I made and hold it on to the bowl with some clean clothes pegs) for at least 8 hours (the longer you leave it, the thicker the yoghurt will be. If you put some on a teaspoon it should be thick enough to hold on for a few seconds when you slip it upside down). You can keep the whey (water that drips through) to make porridge or for baking as long as you keep in a clean, sealed container and use within a few days. Scrape the yoghurt from the cheesecloth and put into a sealable container (I normally wash the container the yoghurt originally came in and then just use that again) and use within a few days.

You could just use the soya yoghurt as it comes instead of making it into Greek soya yoghurt but your sauce will be a bit thinner. 

** If your yoghurt is sweetened you might want to leave this out.

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers
makes 6-8

2 tsp ground flaxseed (or other egg replacer)
4 tbsp water
2 large gold sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
400g can of cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (optional, for frying)

Whisk the flaxseed (or other egg replacer) with the water in a small bowl or mug until thick and creamy. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, put the sweet potatoes in enough water to just cover them and bring to the boil then simmer until soft. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool them and drain again. (You could also cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave to speed things up.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, roughly mash the beans with a fork or potato ricer. You don't need to finely grind the beans, some chunks are OK.

Add the cooled sweet potatoes to the beans and mix. Add the flaxseed mixture and then the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil). Put the mix in the fridge for 15 minutes (optional, although it helps with the stickiness).

Take out of the fridge and form into patties on an oven tray and some baking, greaseproof or parchment paper. This is easiest if you form balls in your hand (somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball) by rolling a handful gently in your palm and then gently pushing the patty onto the tray. You should have 6-8 patties. If you are frying your patties, refrigerate for another 15 minutes (optional, but helps keeps the patties together).

Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Scoop patties from baking tray with a flat spatula and place in pan. Fry on each side for 3-5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C (this should already be happening because you should have roasted your garlic!). Bake the patties for 15-20 minutes or until burgers start to brown. If you want a tougher burger, leave in the oven for longer (but don't let it burn!).