A happy Meal - Veggie burger, sweet potato fries and Kombucha!
This post has been on my to finish list for too long. I'm happy to finally share this quirky meal idea with you. I have a feeling there are plenty more grown ups like me out there - who like to play restaurant at home now and then :) And if you're having guests over, you might really wanna surprise them with this delicious and subversive dinner concept!
Last summer my kitchen saw me flipping veggie burgers and roasting sweet potato wedges like a champion "Burger Queen"! When I found myself also serving our home brewed kombucha on one of those late summer lunches at home, it struck me that I had created "A Real Happy Meal" - turned a fast food classic into a healthy slow meal.
"We're having burgers and fries for lunch and it's really good for you", I told Evan, our nine year old son "When is it ready?" he replied :) My "happy meal" wasn't at all revolutionary to him, being one of those lucky new people, born into a generation and part of the world where eating healthy has been a natural part of his life so far.
I'm much more taken by the idea of healthy versions of fast food - having grown up in a different period, my way to a conscious way of eating is like a history document, following major shifts in society for the past 20 years. Having gradually eased into a vegetarian diet, I'm now aiming to make a great deal of our family meals vegan - a new challenge, determined to eat more plant based food after seeing "forks over knives" and just reading about how health is affected by what we eat on a regular basis.
It might sound very serious and heavy but it's quite the opposite! And you most probably agree with that already if you're reading this blog. I think you don't need any convincing! And you most likely are already setting creative challenges for yourself and having tons of fun making good food at home. And like me - if ideas are ever scarce there's an ocean of inspiration and recipes in the community of amazing bloggers out there.
Back to the "Happy Meal". I think we will see more more and more slow fast food in restaurants. The most exciting "fast foods" in my opinion are happening on wheels right now. Food trucks are the most interesting places to enjoy good pizzas, tacos, and burgers outside of our own kitchens.
My first encounters with veggie burgers were with store bought soy bean patties. A pretty boring and disappointing experience. For a long time I was under the impression that tasty veggie burgers were an urban myth, but eventually - after delicious home made versions at friends' houses, and after determined experiments with some useful failures to learn from - I came up with a formula that really works for me.
A good veggie burger is complex, it needs several elements to form a delicious "oneness". Umami flavour needs to be added! Mushroom, onions, liquid smoke or parmesan are a few ingredients that will do the job. A meaty bean or lentil base with roughly grated veggies like carrot, zucchini or beetroot adds variety to the texture and a delicious juiciness. Spices and herbs are a must, and can be endlessly varied. In the end a good veggie burger is a true balancing act.
They say a burger is as good as its toppings. Add fresh tomatoes, avocado and pickled or raw onion for burger heaven! Adding a hot sauce like sriracha or a French mustard is a must, wasabi is also a great option for heat. A cooling sauce, like mayo or lemony cashew cream offers the perfect contrast!
Serving each burger on a small wooden tray with sweet potato wedges, dip sauce accompanied by a small sparkly kombucha added to the feeling that we had just picked up our orders from the imaginary "Burger Queen" counter in the kitchen! I thought it was hilarious, my man was also amused - the kids however - used to me making an event of our meals were pretty blasé with the whole concept - but loving the burger and a little disappointed that the there were no extra "fries" left.
Also, kombucha is a gamble with children, it's a somewhat grown up taste. One of our children likes it and the other one does not. I'm really into the funky tea flavor myself, it's got so much taste! That's the part younger children mostly don't like.
Home made kombucha takes around three weeks to brew. It's well worth the wait. If you would like to make a perfect brew from scratch you can follow my guide and recipes in this post from last summer. It will take you through every step!
If you're treating your friends or family to this kind of alternative but "Real Happy Meal!" you can find kombucha in many health food stores. It's also nice to offer home made ice tea as an alternative, especially for children.
A Happy Meal!
Plan: Start with roasting the sweet potato wedges and preparing sauces and toppings. Then start with the burgers. With some good timing your burgers will be done approximately the same time the wedges are. Use the remaining heat from roasting the wedges to warm up your burgers and breads if needed.
Makes 4-6 servings
coconut oil for frying
⅔ cup beluga or de puy lentils, cooked and well drained
⅔ cup chickpeas, cooked
1 cup oats, roughly pulsed for a few seconds (big pieces left)
1 tbsp broken flax seed
¼ cup zucchini roughly grated, can be subbed for grated carrots, or raw\roasted beets
1 big handful fresh basil or other fresh herbs roughly chopped
a big handful chives or scallions finely chopped
1 onion, red or yellow finely diced and slowly fried for a few minutes until transparent
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp shoy sauce or tamari sauce
½ tbsp hot chilli sauce (like sriracha or jalapeño sauce)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fine salt
Pinch of black pepper
(not necessary but will bring more delicious flavor to the burger mix)
a few drops of liquid smoke (mix it with the shoy sauce)
½ cup mushrooms, roughly chopped and fried with the onion
2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese (or choose my vegan rawmesan if you like)
HOW TO MAKE THE BURGER
Add the burger ingredients to a bowl and pulse carefully with a hand mixer, stop while it's still bits and pieces and different textures visible. This is important; Don't over mix because it will then become a mushy hummus that won't hold the burger, the idea is to just break up the ingredients a bit, so it's a stickier texture.
Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. If the mix is too wet add a little more broken oats.
Place a sheet of baking paper on your working space.
Form 4-6 balls in your hands. Flatten them on the baking paper and make nice round burger shapes about 1 cm thick.
Heat up a frying pan on medium to low heat and add 1 tbsp coconut oil, fry each burger for a few minutes on each side, they should be nicely golden brown when they're done.
Salt lightly and transfer the fried burgers to an oven tray. Warm up in the oven just before assembly.
4-6 bread buns, halved (warm them up for 1-2 minutes in the oven if you like them hot!)
⅔ cup mayonnaise (choose vegan if you prefer)
2 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce of choices
a good pinch of salt
HOW TO: Mix the burger dressing ingredients together and set aside until assembly.
a big handful cherry tomatoes, slices or tomatillos
fresh or pickled cucumber
raw pickled or caramelized onion
fresh green leafs like rucola
optional: red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
Layer your burgers with the green leaves to start. Add the burger, tomatoes, and onion before drizzling dressing on top, salt and pepper before closing with the top bread.
Serve with the sweet potato wedges.
Sweet potato wedges and lemony cashew dip sauce
6-7 sweet potatoes with orange flesh, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil for baking
a good pinch of sea salt
Sweet potato wedges
Preheat the oven to 220 ℃ and oil your oven tray.
Add the sweet potato wedges, and drizzle olive oil for baking over the fries.
Salt while tossing the wedges around for an even coating oil and salt.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in 220 ℃, until moist and tender, but not dry.
Serve with the dip sauce!
Tip, Make portions of the wedges in paper cones and place in cups for fun way of serving, this gives the Burger restaurant touch for small and big kids!
cashew lemon dip sauce
5 tbsp cashew or almond butter
3 ½ tbsp white tahini paste
4 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 ½ tsp runny honey or agave (vegan)
½ cup almond milk and extra if needed
3 tbsp lemon juice
a good pinch to taste
cashew lemon dip sauce
In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except almond milk and salt.
Mix well, using a small fork, it's gonna be a bit thick.
Add almond milk - one tbsp at the time and mix with the fork until the sauce is smooth.
Salt and adjust to taste adjust, add more lemon if needed.
Set aside in the fridge until serving.