We haven't had much of a summer here in the UK, although a few occasional squeezes of sunshine have given us some minor barbecue-ing opportunities. And it looks like we may actually have a hot weekend ahead of us! So these very 'meaty' Barbecue Chilli Cheese Burgers are the perfect food for a vegan bbq, or to make and take to a friend's.
Thanks to the wheat gluten flour, the Barbecue Chilli Cheese Burgers will really hold their own on a grill without any fancy tricks or superglue. And their texture is so chewy and 'meaty' they will definitely satisfy. They just love to be eaten in burger buns with vegan mayonnaise and good old tomato ketchup. Or a tangy tomato relish would be great with them, too, as well as some grated vegan cheddar.
I have been on a quest to make a really excellent vegan burger because once I became vegan, I realised a lot of the commercial veggie burgers I used to eat were no longer suitable for me, since they often contain milk or egg (Quorn, for example, is not a vegan brand as it uses egg).
Also, none of them are actually that meaty, and yes, I am one of those vegans that enjoys a meaty texture. I know many vegans do not, but I gave up meat and animal produce not because I don't like the taste of these things, but because I see being vegan as the only ethical choice.
So - while I am not one for generally cooking with 'meat alternatives', I do like to create foods that show that you do not have to 'miss out' as vegan, while also being a compassionate option. As well - when you think about what has actually gone into standard burgers, being able to cook up a healthier, happier version is never a bad thing.
And another added bonus - you won't find anyone returning home from a vegan barbecue with food poisoning!
These burgers do contain a couple of more unusual ingredients that you might not have in your cupboard. These include the vital wheat gluten flour, which is the thing that makes the burgers chewy (it's what is used to make seitan), and the Rostad Lok (Scandanavian dried, roasted onion - available from Ikea, which I just happened to have in).
You can but the wheat gluten flour from a supplier like Flourbin and if you are vegan, I would recommend buying a couple of bags because you will find it is brilliant! You can use it to make seitan which is super-versatile in so many dishes. This recipe wouldn't be the same with standard flour as it won't go elastic in the way needed.
As for the dried, roasted onion, well - I think you may find other, similar brands in general supermarkets that could stand in if you don't have an IKEA near you! Or search for a recipe to make your own? You may also find an online supplier. I find them handy to have in for adding to soups, burgers such as this, and even to use as a savoury topping for bakes.
Vegan Barbecue Chilli Cheese Burgers
Makes 4 burgers
1¼ cup /120g frozen veggie mince (I used Linda McCartney, which is vegan)
½ cup / 110ml hot vegetable broth
¼ cup / 90g nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup / 90g dried roasted onion (I used Rostad Lok, from Ikea)
½ large red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (use a microplane grater)
½ tsp Tabasco (or other red pepper sauce)
¼ cup / 60g nondairy cream cheese
¾ cup / 105g vital wheat gluten flour
1. Mix the veggie mince, hot broth, yeast flakes, chopped chilli and roasted onion into a seal-able, microwave-safe bowl.
2. Seal the lid on the bowl then microwave for 1½ minutes on full power (if you do not have a microwave, you can cook for about 4-5 minutes in a saucepan, stirring but keeping the lid on as much as possible – if you use this method, you may need slightly more broth).
3. Allow the mixture to cool for about 10-15 minutes. When cooled, add the minced garlic, Tabasco, and nondairy cream cheese and stir well.
4. Now add your wheat gluten flour, and mix well. Once well combined, you can use your hands to knead the dough and get all the excess mixture from the sides of the bowl into your burger mix.
5. Knead for a few minutes so the dough is quite elastic, and then let rest for about 15 minutes before dividing into 4 burgers.
6. To cook the burgers,: Obviously, they are great on a barbecue grill as they cook within minutes and hold together really well. You will probably only need to grill them for around 3-4 minutes each side.
7. You can also shallow fry (I use a non-stick pan with only the lightest coating of olive oil) and cook for about 4 minutes each side, slightly pressing the burgers down into the pan now and then, until they are nicely browned both sides.
8. Serve in burger bun, with a side salad and your choice of garnishes and relishes!