8 June 2015

Spicy Butternut Squash & Black Bean Burgers with Cajun Onion Rings

I'm usually good. In fact I'm usually super good at eating healthy vegetarian dishes...during the week...most of the time. I'm not going to apologise for the weekend, it's normally dirty, filled with meat slathered in God knows what, one or two G&Ts and enough sugary treats to knock out a horse. This might not be an exact representation of my weekends but it's pretty close. Its two horses.
But despite being a filthy eater at the weekend, and last weekend was really filthy (we're talking éclairs, ice cream, chilli cheese fries, the works!) 5 days of healthy eating versus two days of overindulgence does not stop me craving a big fat juicy burger midweek or even on a meat free Monday. But I've come up with a cunning plan so I can have my burger and eat it (semi-) healthily. If you discount the fried onion rings, which I really wouldn't. How healthy do you have to be!


I call it the Spicy Butternut Squash, Black Bean and Quinoa Burger. An original, snappy title which captures the true qualities of this burger. One, its spicy and two, it contains butternut squash, black bean and quinoa. We like to keep things simple around here. Likewise the onion rings are Cajun and that's a good enough description for me.
I like to serve these veggie burgers, as I do all burgers. Big juicy slices of smelly tomatoes (the good kind of smelly that rich mmm smell), a handful of healthy greens and a hell of a lot of grated cheese, which you could totally leave out to keep it vegan but I just couldn't. It would be a sin. Not a big one, but a sin all the same. Its a classic combo, and if I've learnt one thing in life its that you shouldn't mess with the classics, except when it comes to éclairs. Messing with them is encouraged, had the best one from Maître Choux on Sunday. Two words: violet and blueberries.
This recipe only uses half a butternut squash so if you're in doubt on what to do with the other half, there are so many amazing options open to you. Butternut wedges, lasagne, roasted in a salad with beetroot (that's a thing) and stuffed with spicy black rice are all delicious veggie options.
I have a warning about these onion rings. They are super addictive. I mean all onion rings are addictive in their own way, but these are dangerously so. And they're not healthy. Yeah I said it. There is no possible way I can spin these to be healthy, it just ain't gonna happen. Also these onion rings, are not good cold so you better eat them quick! They're crispy on the outside with a bit of a crunch from the cornmeal coating but inside they're doughy and oh so moreish. But when cold, just don't go there.
I am a sriracha fiend. I like it on and in everything. But mixed with yoghurt it suddenly becomes my favourite dip in the whole world. Warn your fellow greedy guzzlers though, if like my friends they think this dip will provide a refreshing relief, it doesn't. The heat builds till suddenly your whole mouth is wild fire. Feel free to wimp out of the sriracha, but know you've been judged. Real warning
Spicy Butternut Squash, Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers with Cajun Onion Rings and Sriracha Dip
(serves 4-6)
For the burgers
1/2 a butternut squash
All of the butternut squash seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
1 can of black beans
125g quinoa
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out all the seeds. Setting the seeds aside, make deep scores in one half of the butternut squash and drizzle with a little olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Bake the butternut squash half in the oven for 30-45 minutes, if you're short on time you could cut the butternut squash into small cubes and bake for 20 minutes.

Step 2. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve, and put a pan of water on to boil with a pinch of salt. Like rice you only want enough water to cover 2cm above the top of the quinoa. Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on and reduce the heat.

Step 3. Finely dice the red onion and fry till soft in a little oil, finely grate the garlic and add to the pan and cook for a minute. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and transfer to a large bowl. In the same pan toast the butternut squash seeds in a little olive oil till they start to turn slightly golden, then add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and continue to toast till all are golden brown. Set the seeds aside in the same bowl as the onions and garlic.

Step 4. Once the quinoa is cooked, set it aside and leave to cool. You shouldn't need to drain it but if you do, do it now (no-one wants a soggy burger). Drain the black beans. Finally, when the squash is cooked scoop out the flesh with a spoon and mash it up. Then combine everything (seeds, onions, garlic, squash, black beans, quinoa, parsley, spices, salt and pepper, THE LOT!) in the large bowl and form the mix into equal patties.
Step 5. Place the patties on a baking tray that's been lined with greaseproof paper and brushed with olive oil, and bake for 25 minutes, until delicious.

For the onion rings
1-2 large onions
50g plain flour plus extra for dredging
50g fine cornmeal
2 tsp paprika
75ml milk
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Step 1. Slice the onions width ways into 1cm slices and separate out the rounds. Dredge them in a little flour so they're evenly coated.
Step 2. In a jug, whisk together the milk and egg, then add this to the sieved dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The mixture shouldn't be too loose because we're looking for chunky onions rings, but if you prefer things on the slim side add a bit more milk.
Step 3. On a medium heat, heat an inch or two of oil for frying the onion rings, you don't need much and never deep fat fry with more oil than a third of the pan. Be safe when deep fat frying, read this first! You'll know the oil is ready when you drop a bit of bread in and it goes golden brown.
Step 4. Once the oil is ready, work quickly, dipping the onion rings into the batter and popping them in the pan. Use a slotted spoon to flip the onion rings over half way through cooking, The only need 2-3 minutes cooking on each side.
Step 5. When you remove the onion rings, leave them on some kitchen towel for a bit to soak up any excess oil. Then devour with dip!

For the Sriracha dip
4 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
A hearty squeeze of sriracha

Step 1. Combine everything. You can go easy on the sriracha if you're not a spice fan, or just have plain old yoghurt! 
Do you have any great veggie burger recipes? If so, drop me a link in the comments box to see. I'm in desperate need of some good veggie (and vegan!) bbq recipes for all the Summer cookouts to come!

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