I was a vegetarian once, you know. One of those clichéd teenagers who turns veggie because her friends are. I somehow overlooked the fact that most of my favourite meals revolved around meat, and instead turned into the world's worst vegetarian. I thought if I snuck some ham from the fridge and nobody saw, then it didn't count. Once, as we were driving to the home of an elderly relative for what was going to be an excellent Sunday lunch, Mum, I suspect knowing I was an open door against which she could lean, suggested we didn't tell our host I was a vegetarian as she wouldn't understand and wouldn't be prepared. As Mum predicted, she got no argument from me and I merrily tucked into roast beef and the best Yorkshire Puddings the world has ever known, and returned to my version of vegetarianism the next day. It was sausages that got me in the end. Delicious sausages, wolfed down after a big night out with my cousin, were just about the best things I had ever eaten, and I knew then that the jig was up.
Nowadays I am a committed omnivore, and do my bit by buying happy meat where I can, and local where possible. I don't know whether the teenage me would be proud or not of the fact that, without thinking about it at all, there are days that easily pass with me following a vegetarian diet. My interests today would, admittedly, be more about my appetite than anything else, but whenever I pause and think about the effects of campaigns such as Meatless Monday, then that makes me even happier.
I definitely ate versions of these Broccoli Burgers as a teenage vegetarian, probably by Linda McCartney or in the form of those delicious crispbakes that Marks & Spencer used to do (do they still make those? I miss them). I do admit, though, that just the name - Broccoli Burgers - is enough to make even a total Broccoliphile like me do a small inward sneer before I catch myself, have a think about it, and realise that a) I love, love, love broccoli and all the other ingredients in these, b) having these cheesy, moreish burgers in my freezer, ready to be defrosted in the oven or in a frying pan or even for a couple of minutes in the microwave would be a great easy, quick dinner for us, and c) I just need to grow up if I am inwardly laughing at something that even rubbish-veggie teenage me would totally be on board with and adore.
I managed to take the world's worst photo of these but it was in the middle of another endless bout of packing, and my biggest achievement today was not kicking the packing boxes out of my way in a teenage rage. Moving in five days. Luckily I have a stash of these burgers in my freezer to keep me going.
Recipe sent to me by a friend who has no idea of its provenance; I therefore apologise if I am ripping someone's recipe off. I'll gladly add the author here.
1 whole head of broccoli, including the stalk, grated or processed
2 slices of bread, whizzed in the processor
1 handful of cashew nuts, whizzed in the processor
1 onion, finely chopped
1 handful grated strong cheddar
1 heaped tablespoon grainy mustard
Splash tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 180C.
In a large bowl, mix everything together really well and make burgers - I got 10 out of these.
Put them on a greased baking tray, and bake for an hour, turning them over half way through.
Serve as a regular burger, on a bun, with cheese, mayo and lettuce.
They freeze incredibly well. You can reheat them straight from the freezer, either for 10 minutes in a hot oven, or 2 minutes in the microwave.
Makes 10 burgers.