Vegan portobello pecan burger with roasted pumpkin wedges

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. 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.

Cooks 6-8 burgers

4 tablespoons olive oil
350g Portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes
1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
A large pinch of sea salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
20g dried seaweed, cut into very fine ribbons
175g flageolet beans, soaked overnight, then cooked with teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and cooled, or 1 x 400g tin
120g toasted pecans 100g red or brown rice, cooked and cooled
2 heaped tablespoons brown miso
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g fine wholewheat breadcrumbs

For the pumpkin wedges
750g pumpkin, scrubbed. Seeded and cut into 5cm wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable oil a large pinch of sea salt
1 x tarragon aioli

To serve
8 seeded wholewheat
Rolls, halved (for gluen-free alternative. use your favourite GF bread)
1 big handful sun-blushed tomatoes
Buttery lettuce leaves (something like oak-leaf)


Pumpkin wedges

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.


The burger

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. Meanwhile, make the tarragon aioli.

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.

Recipe taken from Peace & Parsnips by Lee Watson, out now and published by Michael Joseph

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