Where I live, in Jerez de la Frontera, generally people don’t understand non-traditional diets. Usually when I say that I’m vegetarian, locals respond: “But you eat ham, right?” Today I got asked if I could eat mushrooms… así es la vida. The separation of food groups just doesn’t seem to be in the Spanish consciousness. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found out about a VEGAN cooking workshop held right in the center of Jerez at the natural foods store, La Panacea. For only 10 euros, I simply had to sign up!
Youtube channels such as The Happy Pear and hot for food have been my main sources of instruction so far when it comes to cooking vegan food, so it was really exciting to participate in my very first cooking class. The instructor, José taught us how to make four different and delicious burgers along with individual sauces. My favourite was the quinoa burger, and with his permission I’m sharing it with you along with 10 tips to make the ultimate vegan burger!
1. Salt your ingredients as you cook them.
If you add salt to the patty mixture at the end, the salt won’t absorb properly and your flavours won’t be highlighted as well.
2. Invest in the extra time and SOAK your beans.
If your veggie burgers always turn out a little soggy or mushy, try using dried beans instead of canned. It takes more time, but the texture of your patties will be firmer because you control the texture by allowing more or less cooking time. If you’re super impatient (like me), try making a beanless quinoa burger like the one at the end of this post!
3. Fry and Freeze.
If making extra for those days when you don’t feel like cooking, lightly pan fry your burgers before freezing them. This helps them to maintain their form and texture. To cook the frozen patties, pop them on the pan directly in a little oil and fry on medium heat on both sides.
4. Let your burgers chill.
If cooking them fresh, chill the mixture in the fridge before forming your burgers. This makes it easier to form compact patties that won’t fall apart when cooking.
5. Use rice flour.
Traditional wheat flour can make your burger taste like paste, and bread crumbs can make it heavy. Using rice flour is a lighter alternative that will also help you to get a nice crispy exterior on your patty. Bonus – It’s gluten-free!
6. Buy a knife sharpener!
As a minimalist, I try not to buy too many kitchen gadgets, but watching how easily Jose was able to slice up all the vegetables, I’m convinced that I need to purchase one. It may seem scary to use a sharp knife, but you’re less likely to cut yourself because a slick blade prevents unnecessary and dangerous slips. Because if you bleed into the burger, it ain’t vegan!
7. Booze it up!
Add wine to unite flavours.
8. Or keep it sober.
If you prefer to be able to distinguish the taste of each individual ingredient, save the wine for you glass.
9. Make your burgers fart-free.
If you tend to shy away from veggie burgers because they turn you into a “Gassy Garry”, try using red lentils instead of beans. Because they don’t have a skin, they are easier to digest and won’t result in you emitting those embarrassing smells ?.
10. Garlic is for everyone!
If you love a strong garlicky flavour in your burgers, add it last to your cooked ingredients. For a subtler garlic flavour, let it be the first thing you add to your pan (Be careful to cook on low-medium heat! Garlic burns VERY quickly!). Remove the core of the garlic if you have problems digesting it.
My favourite burger of the day was definitely the one made with quinoa. Gluten, bean and lactose-free, it is also the most accessible burger of the bunch. I love the fresh taste of veggies, and I can’t wait to put these on a barbecue this summer. It’s amazing paired with sriracha or vegan mayo like the one I made for Ensaladilla Rusa. However, you must try José’s secret sauce – a sweet vegannaise with pear!
Do you have any secrets to making the perfect vegan burger? Have I missed anything? Let me know!