The ultimate VEGGIE burger?

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Brioche buns sponsored by Pye Baker of Norwich.

I’m occasionally partial to a spot of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, a magazine show, which is in fact targeted at an entirely different gender – the 30-something male. One who likes a lie-in. Well who doesn’t enjoy one of those? But for some reason, when channel hopping on a Sunday morn, I always seem to pause here for a peek. I quite like the posh junk food, Simon Rimmer often rustles up, including his recipe for the ultimate veggie burger which I’ve been meaning to give a whirl for some time now.

Although this particular show aired last spring sometime, it was only recently that I managed to muster up the Google search terms “Simon Rimmer’s Ultimate Veggie Burger“.

You might have seen my previous blog post about what makes a decent veggie fry-up. Well, I’m sticking with that theme and seeing whether similarly I can improve on the humble shop-bought veggie burger. There are some great burgers out there, but unless spiced with chilli, the flavour can sometimes be a bit lacklustre. The basis of this burger is created from tofu, beetroot, carrot and mushrooms. And a few token kidney beans.

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Although the below recipe has been inspired by, it doesn’t strictly stay true to, Simon’s version. I’ve made a few changes to quantities and seasoning.

The key things I changed:

– Added more garlic, paprika and thyme (this worked well!)

– Added an extra beetroot (this made my version much brighter purple in colour)

– Added extra kidney beans and tofu

– I also blended my mixture into a smooth mixture (thanks for the inspiration to do this, Emily from Emily Recipes and Reviews).

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The result of blending the ingredients and adding the extra tofu and beetroot meant that the patties were quite moist. The patties needed careful handling in the frying pan and I actually finished them off under the grill to keep the outside firm.

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To avoid a mixture too moist, use one beetroot, 50g less tofu and don’t blend your mixture. But this will mean the burger is chunkier and not a smooth pattie.


4-5 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled, thinly sliced

350g firm tofu, finely chopped

2 cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), peeled, grated

130g fried mushrooms, drained

1 carrot, peeled, grated

2 tsp smoked paprika

3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Two thirds of a tin of chopped kidney beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 brioche burger buns

Cheese slices

2-3 gherkins, sliced

Burger Preparation method:

1) Heat 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan over a medium-low heat and fry the onions for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they are softened and golden-brown.

2) In a bowl, mix together the cooked onions, tofu, beetroot, mushrooms, carrots, smoked paprika, garlic, thyme and kidney beans. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3) With damp hands, divide the mixture into approximately 150g/5oz portions and shape into patties.

4) Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on both sides, or until golden-brown. Heat a griddle pan until smoking, then add the patties and fry for a further 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until there are deep char lines on both sides. [If the mixture is quite moist, you can finish off under the grill for 2 – 3 minutes each side.]

5) To serve, place the patties into burger buns and arrange over the toppings of your choice. Below are the beautifully soft and delicious brioche buns from Pye Baker of Norwich. These guys know their artisan bread! They also produce American slider burger buns – miniature burger buns arounds half the size of your average bun.

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Delicious, fresh and softly sweet brioche buns from Pye Baker of Norwich

Toppings – Burger Sauces & Sweet Onions:

In addition to topping my burgers with cheese slices and sweet gerkins, I was keen to make some awesome burger sauces and some of those addictive burger onions – you know the kind, the finely diced sweet onions that some burger joints use. Chunky, bitter onions just don’t work for me in burgers. So, I diced some regular white onions and then soaked in some sugary water (about 4 teaspoons) for a couple of hours. When I was ready to serve, I drained and rinsed the onions before topping the burger. Then in addition to ketchup and mayo, I whipped up some harissa mayo, using shop-bought mayo and a teaspoon and a half of harissa paste.

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Burger Sauce (bottom sauce): I was also keen to emulate Big Mac’s burger dirty-arse sauce that we all love so much.

This came pretty close! Mix together:

3 tbs mayonnaise

1 tbs tomato ketchup

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 small clove of garlic, final grated

1 finely chopped sweet gherkin

Salt and pepper


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So, would you be happy to substitute meat for this veggie alternative? I’d love to hear whether you think this cuts the mustard for you…

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