“As a passionate omnivore, my overriding desire was simply to explode the myth that good barbecue has to be all about Man vs. Meat,” explains Genevieve Taylor, in the opening pages of her vegetarian BBQ bible, Charred.
“The appetite for eating more veg and less meat is huge, as we realise it’s better for both our planet and our bodies if we make our diets a little less carnivorous. I hope to show you that the taste of pretty much any vegetable you can think of can be elevated by a little fire and smoke.”
Here, we share three of Taylor’s favourite vegetarian burger and kebab alternatives perfect for weekend suppers – and every bit as delicious from an indoor griddle when the Great British weather doesn’t play ball.
Mexican black bean burgers with avocado and chipotle sour cream
“Chipotle chilli is one of my favourite spices, providing not only a lovely hit of heat but bags of smoky flavour too. Grilling the squash adds all-important caramelisation and also dries the flesh out a little so your burgers are not too wet and liable to collapse in the pan.”
300g peeled butternut squash, cut into 1cm slices
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1–2 tsp chilli flakes, ideally chipotle
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x 400g cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
A large handful of coriander, chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
125g fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little vegetable oil, for shallow frying
For the chipotle sour cream
3 tbsp sour cream
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tsp chipotle chilli flakes
A few lettuce leaves
4 burger buns, lightly toasted
1 large ripe avocado, sliced
1. Begin by grilling the squash. Preheat a griddle pan on the hob until hot, or if you have a barbecue going, use that to grill the squash. Using about a tablespoon of olive oil, lightly brush the squash slices all over and season with salt and pepper. Lay on the grill and cook on both sides until tender and lightly charred – about 20 minutes, depending on the heat you give them. Remove from the heat and chop finely, then put into a bowl and set aside to cool down.
2. Once you are ready to make the burgers, put the cumin seeds and chilli flakes into a dry frying pan and set over a medium heat to toast for a minute or so. As soon as you smell their aroma wafting up from the pan, tip them into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind.
3. Pour the remaining olive oil into the frying pan, set over a low heat, then add the onion and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for a good 15–20 minutes, until soft and lightly caramelised. Add the garlic and stir-fry for another minute, then tip in the black beans and spices and use a potato masher to break the beans up to a coarse purée. Stir through the coriander, then scoop the bean mixture into a shallow bowl. Set aside to cool, then chill for an hour to firm up.
4. While the bean mix is chilling, make the dressing by stirring together the sour cream with the garlic and chipotle chilli in a small bowl. Set aside.
5. Put the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls, ready to coat the burgers. Mix the squash into the bean mix, shape into four evenly-sized balls, then flatten each one to a disc about 1.5cm thick. Take one burger and dip it in the flour to coat evenly all over. Then dip into the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs, carefully turning the burger over to get an even coating. Set on a plate and repeat with the others.
6. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil into a large frying pan and set over a high heat. Once the oil is really hot, add the burgers. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until they are deep golden brown and crisp. Use a spatula to splash a little oil up the sides of the burgers as they are cooking, to help crisp up the edges.
7. To serve, place a little lettuce and a burger on the base of each bun and top with a few slices of avocado. Add a good dollop of chipotle sour cream dressing, top with the bun lid and tuck in.
Herby falafel burgers with hummus
“Feel free to use shop-bought hummus if you like, but once you’ve got the food processor out for the falafels it takes barely any time to whizz up the hummus too.”
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 x 400g cans of chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
1 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A small bunch each of flat-leaf parsley and coriander, roughly chopped
4 tbsp gram flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
For the hummus
400g (14oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tahini
Juice of ½ lemon
4–5 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 pitta breads, lightly toasted and split
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
A few slices of cucumber
A little chopped coriander
Chilli flakes (optional)
1. Tip the toasted cumin and coriander seeds into a pestle and mortar or a spice mill and roughly grind. Put the ground spices into a food processor along with the chilli flakes, chickpeas, spring onions, garlic, parsley, coriander and gram flour. Season generously with salt and pepper and blitz together to blend to a stiff paste.
2. Scoop on to a plate and divide into four equal balls, then flatten each to a burger of around 1.5cm thick, pressing any cracks together firmly. Put them back on the plate, cover, then chill in the fridge for an hour, or up to 24 hours.
3. For the hummus, give the food processor bowl a quick rinse, then reassemble and add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice. Blitz to a coarse purée, then, with the motor running, add enough cold water to blend to a smooth, creamy paste. Add the olive oil and a good grind of salt and pepper and whizz to combine, then scoop into a bowl.
4. When you are ready to cook, pour the vegetable oil into the base of a large frying pan and set over a medium-high heat on the hob or barbecue. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the burgers and fry for about three minutes on each side, until golden and crisp.
5. To serve, spread some hummus inside each pitta and add the burgers. Top with a little tomato and cucumber, sprinkle with chopped coriander and add a sprinkle of chilli flakes, if you like.
Harissa potato, halloumi and asparagus kebabs with coriander and lemon oil
“Waxy salad potatoes, such as Charlotte, work brilliantly on a barbecue or griddle, but you do need to simmer them until tender before grilling. Here, they are skewered up with ever-popular halloumi and asparagus and coated in spicy harissa. I used rose-petal-infused harissa because I love it, but any regular harissa paste will be great too.”
For six to eight skewers
500g Charlotte or salad potatoes, sliced in half lengthways
250g (asparagus, each stalk cut into 3
2 x 250g packs of halloumi, cut into finger-thick wedges
2 tbsp rose harissa paste, or to taste
For the coriander and lemon oil
75ml extra virgin olive oil
A small bunch of coriander, leaves finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
½–1 tsp caster sugar, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
You’ll also need six to eight kebab skewers, preferably metal ones
1. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the potato halves. Cook until just tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about ten minutes, depending on how big they are. Add the asparagus for the final 30 seconds or so, just to blanch it very briefly.
2. Drain the potatoes and asparagus and put back into the pan. Add the halloumi fingers and harissa and stir gently until evenly coated, taking care not to break up the cheese or potatoes. Thread everything alternately on to the skewers and set aside while you heat up the grill – heat up your barbecue for direct grilling, or preheat a cast-iron griddle on the hob.
3. Cook the kebabs over a medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, turning once until evenly charred. While the skewers are cooking, make the coriander and lemon oil by putting everything into a jug and whisking together with a fork, seasoning to taste with a little sugar, salt and pepper.
4. Once cooked, transfer the kebabs to a plate and drizzle over the coriander and lemon oil.
Charred by Genevieve Taylor, with photography by Jason Ingram, is published by Quadrille (£16.99). Buy your copy here.