Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Convenience food - 50 years a vegetarian

Anyone who is vegetarian or who cooks for a vegetarian knows all too well that good quality vegetarian dishes take a lot of preparation. Being vegetable based (in the main), more often than not you need to plan ahead and ensure you have plenty of basics in stock ready for use such as nuts, seeds, pre-soaked and boiled beans, chick peas or lentils. In addition, vegetables need processing and cleaning thoroughly especially when they are home-grown, fresh from the ground and not nicely pre-cleaned and packed.

In the UK during my youth, teens and 20s, the concept of fast food had not yet reached the masses and unless you cooked for yourself, you made do with whatever was available. The concept of vegetarian was vague to most food outlets. I remember when I was first training to be a nurse, along with a fellow vegetarian student Terry, we lived in the nurses home at a hospital close to where we worked. The hospital canteen was our main source of nutrition for at least two years before we decanted into a shared house. The canteen waitresses (Bambi and Cath) were always helpful and on a daily basis both parties followed the obligatory routine of "do you have anything without meat or fish?" followed by "No, but I can make you a cheese sandwich with chips". You cannot imagine the jubilation on the rare day when they could announce "We've got cauliflower cheese today". Cheese sandwich and chips, the life saver.

Vegetarian is still a weird concept for most Asturians
Here at La Pasera we both follow a vegetarian diet and therefore having something in the freezer we can pop under a grill or quickly saute, really helps. We often batch cook and this then becomes our convenience foods. One favourite for batch cooking is spicy Indian bean burgers. We make about 40 at a time and freeze them. They cook really well from frozen and make a great addition to a plate of salad or accompanying a few roast veg.

Here is the recipe:

Spicy Indian Bean Burgers 

250 g of soft cooked beans (we use aduki and black eyed beans)
Large onion chopped finely
125 g of grated carrot or swede
90 g fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp marmite or similar
Flour, Salt, Pepper, Oil
Indian spices (to taste) (we use general curry powder or a mix of garam masala and chilli)

Frozen uncooked on trays then bagged
Sauté the onion and add the Marmite. Lightly mash beans and breadcrumbs (we use a potato masher), add grated vegetables and the cooked onions. Add spices and season to taste. Divide into 90-100g balls and shape into burgers with a light flour coating. Freeze separately on trays then bag up into usable quantities. Goes well with a nice fruit chutney. We would quadruple this recipe to make about 40 burgers.


  1. I knew there was something I needed to do tonight!! Thanks for the reminder

  2. Anonymous9:04 pm

    Thanks so much for posting your recipe. I can't wait to get a batch of these made & in MY freezer. I'd much rather be in my studio, so anything to make my 'kitchen time' less is much appreciated!


  3. just had these, with Aubergine and Walnut Curry, Rice and Lemon Chutney

    Went down very well indeed!

  4. I am pleased they were well received - the curry sounds great.


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