Hola from Murca, Spain! We’ve moved here for a few months, following the sun!
It’s been a while beloved Beach Houser’s, too long, but we’re back with a bang and a massive burger treat. The search for the tastiest veggie burger is a quest to be taken very seriously. These are at the very least, a contender, with Aubergine for buns and a nice cheesy chilli kick.
Cracking burgers these with inspiration straight from the local markets of Puerto Mazzaron, Murica (a region known as the ‘garden of Spain’ or ‘veggie produce heaven’). It’s not hard to be inspired in Murcia, the air smells of rosemary and herbs with tomatoes, lemons and almonds growing freely all over the place.
The local Puerto Mazzaron Sunday market is full of old time geezers and their wives selling their wares, mostly out of the backs of dilapidated jollopy type vans. There is at least some organic produce here, but it’s never marked, we just pick the most misshapen, curly, funky looking varieties and this seems to work. The flavours are amazing, a humble pepper can fill me with so much joy.
Mazzaron market is a real feast for the senses and like all markets in the world, I feel in my element, free to sniff out the finest produce and really get to grips with a culture and place. The market is the beating heart of a town, the fact they are dying out is a huge shame. Food says alot about us and in Murcia they sell it whilst swigging cold beers, potent coffees and doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate all washed down with ham, ham and more ham. This can only mean more veggies for us. Buena Suerte!
We didn’t fancy any salt in these burgers, so the olives were a great local addition. Packing loads of flavour and decent hit of salty tanginess. The olive counter at the market is a large row of buckets with a mind boggling number of varieties. We love the fat little green manzanilla’s, the spicy gazpacho mix and the sweet red peppery ones. You can get olives anyway you like here, stuffed with lemon or even a whole chilli!
Manchengo comes in various guises and I normally like the cured option, slightly saltier and harder, on the way to a pecorino. Jane opted for the semi-cured variety this time which was a real surprise. After munching much cheese in France, this Spanish stuff is really decent. Semi-cured manchengo is very creamy and light, perfect for a tasty burger, adding a load of richness. Add to that the local organic hot paprika, rosemary from the rambla (one of the dried river that runs below us) and the smells and flavours of Murcia are all here, in burger form!
Aubergine buns!? Why not. Tastier than bread and a healthier option. Feel free to pop them into a proper bun if you fancy. The only thing was, our burgers were way too big for our buns (never a bad thing), so we were forced to improvise and make it into something resembling an aubergine bruschetta.
These are burgers to crack out when you are in carnivore territory and you need something packed with flavour and filling. This is no flimsy veggie option, this is one for big eaters and lovers of rich food. Ideal for barbecues.
We have no internet in our casa, so we hope to connect again soon, but who knows!? Rest assured, we’ll be eating our way through the ‘garden of Spain’ and thinking of you all. Watch this space for more BHK Espana antics.
Makes four massive burgers.
1 medium sweet potato (cut into 1cm cubes), 1 ½ cup brown lentils, 1 yellow pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1 aubergine (cut into 4 large wedges for the buns), 100g Semi-cured (curado) Manchengo (chopped fine), 20 plump green olives (mas o menos, chopped fine), 2 heaped teaspoons hot paprika (add ½ teas cayenne pepper if you don’t have hot paprika), 1 heaped teas Dijon mustard (when in Spain!), 2 teas balsamic vinegar, 2 teas fresh rosemary (chopped fine), lots of cracked black pepper, your favourite oil for frying (we used a nice sunflower)
Topping – Sweet Red Piquillos (red peppers, roasted and marinated in olive oil), thin slices of good tomato.
Cover your lentils with water, 1 inch above, add 3 bay leaves and a little sea salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes until tender. Drain well (keep the juices for soup or stew. Yum!) and set aside.
Fry off your onions and pepper on medium heat in a good glug of oil until they are nice and golden, soft and sweet. Set aside, cover and wipe out pan with some kitchen paper.
Add your little cubes of sweet potato and cook briskly and stir well until soft and getting caremelised, 10 minutes more or less, add your garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add your onion mix and paprika, rosemary, pepper and mustard, cook for a few minutes on a low heat then add your chopped cheese and olives. Stir well and combine your 2 cups of cooked lentils. Set aside.
Pop the oven on, 200oC.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Get a masher and give the mix a thorough mash up. Some chunks are allowed, all adds to the texture. Grab a baking tray, get it oiled up (use some tin foil if you prefer), form large balls of the mix in your hands, it’s going to be sticky but that’s where the fun lies! They should be a real cupped handful per burger (you may need to lick your fingers afterwards, this is encouraged). Drop the balls in a neat(ish) fashion onto your tray, making four large balls.
Add your 4 hefty chunks of aubergine to the tray and drizzle/coat all with some nice oil. Your burgers need to be formed, use a spoon to push and level out your burgers, make them thick and roundish, use the curve of your hand here. You should be left four fat half pounders.
Top with a little cracker pepper and into then into the oven for 30 minutes (check them after 20 mins).
They may blacken slightly, the sweet potatoes caramelising, this is good and will be great for the flavour.
When handling the burgers take care, you need to have good spatula skills here. They may fall apart unless handled with love.
If your burgers fit in your aubergines (you have huge aubergines!) then make a classic burger, topped with some gorgeously piquant and sweet piquillos and a few slices of tomato. A salad would be nice.
We Love It!
Very, very tasty burgers. The cheese inside makes them really rich and the effort put into crafting them is well worth it. The roasted aubergines are a find, crisp and juicy, perfect with this sort of dense veggie burger.
Aubergine, Eggplant, Brinjal, whatever you want to call it, it tastes good and does you good. Aubergine is low calorie, high fibre, full of the vitamin B’s and some Brazilian scientists have said that it can help control blood cholesterol.