9p Bean Burgers from Cooking on a Bootstrap | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Eighteen

Week Three: Budget Week
This week, we’re going to prove once and for all that veganism is affordable!

I’m not sure how or when I first became familiar with Jack Monroe and her Cooking on a Bootstrap blog, but it was definitely within the last year. I appreciate Jack’s no-nonsense yet empathetic approach to budget cooking… and I especially appreciate that she’s now vegan and has a plethora of super-cheap veg recipes!

Although I don’t have any of Jack’s cookbooks, her website has a generous recipe archive — including a vegan section. I knew I’d tap into that archive during budget week, and when Jack posted her Carrot, Cumin, and Kidney Bean Burger recipe last week, I knew which dish to try first! Jack describes this recipe as the one that brought her to national attention in Britain. And it’s easy to see why: With smart purchases, you can make four bean burgers for just 9p a serving. That is undeniably cheap for any recipe, vegan or not! (Note that I didn’t calculate the actual cost of my burgers when I made them, but I’m pretty confident it was more than 9p/12 cents.)

When I sent Steven to the grocery store on Sunday to pick up ingredients for the week, I initially asked him to grab some burger buns. But then I changed my mind. Why not make them myself?! I’ve been blabbering on about homemade bread, and homemade buns are the next logical step. In fact, I’d argue that they’re even easier than bread. Just don’t do what I did a few years ago and decide to make pretzel buns as your first foray into bun-making. It was a big pain in the butt and NOT worth the hassle. I was smarter this time, opting for a much simpler recipe. I omitted the poppy seeds and the “egg” wash, and I was thrilled at how easily it all came together! (Using my KitchenAid dough hook definitely saved time.) There’s one hourlong rise, then you shape the dough into balls, let them rise again briefly, and bake them for just 15-18 minutes. Then you pull a beautiful batch of buns — all puffy and golden brown on top — from the oven and feel like a real domestic genius.

Although my buns were not exactly uniform in size, they were still light, fluffy, and really quite tasty. Plus, they’re far less expensive than buying ready-made bun and they don’t come wrapped in plastic.

But back to the reason I made those buns in the first place: bean burgers! So, how did they turn out? Well, for 9p, you could do a whole lot worse. The flavor is pretty much what you’d expect for such a short ingredient list, and they are quite squishy (as is the wont of these old-school bean burgers). But for a basic, cheap, quick burger you can customize with your own spices or additional ingredients, it’s a solid recipe. We topped ours with homemade Big Mac sauce and some halved cherry tomatoes from the garden. Served alongside simple roasted potatoes, this was a filling and cheap dinner.

What’s your go-to cheap meal?

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Vegan on the Go: Northstar Café (Friday Flashback)

Let’s jump in our Delorean and do a little time-traveling, shall we? Don’t worry, we’re not going very far – only four days back, to late Friday afternoon. I’d just arrived in Columbus, and I’d picked up my rental car and was feelin’ more than a bit peckish. I wanted a tasty dinner before beginning the drive to Zanesville, so I headed over to a location fairly close to the Columbus airport – Northstar Café.

Let’s travel back a little further – earlier that week, when I realized I’d be in Columbus for an evening, I took the logical step: I solicited advice for vegan eats via Twitter. Brian, the [not so] Crabby Vegan, responded and tipped me off about a very timely series over at Eat Pure, where Sarah-Mai was just finishing up a series about vegan food in Columbus. Serendipitous, no? I was quite impressed by the variety of food available, but ultimately I chose the Easton Northstar because it was closest to the Columbus airport. :)

When I arrived on Friday, I took a look at the menu (which isn’t available online for the Easton location!) and got pretty excited about the Buddha bowl. Sadly, though, my inquiries revealed that the sauce used in the bowl contains honey. But a helpful waitress was only too willing to point out the honey-free vegan options, and eventually I settled on the veganized Northstar Burger: Just made with organic brown rice, black beans and beets, topped with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.

 

 

 

 

Lookit those grill marks!

 

 

Beets in a burger?! I’m totally sold! I had to eat this with a fork and knife because it was so darn big and the bread was so darn thick, but I didn’t care – it was delicious! The beets, rice, and beans created a crispy, delightfully-textured, and superbly-flavored creation that I totally enjoyed and that played well with a mustard-y spread on the bread-bun. It also came with a really yummy, crunchy, salad, with fennel and onions and lettuce and all sorts of yumminess covered in some sort of oil-based dressing. Oh, and the pickle was dreamy, too.

My only complaints about this meal were that the burger was a little too salty and the salad was a tiny bit too oily. Other than that, however, it was fantastic. If I ever find myself back in Columbus, I’ll be sure to pay Northstar a second visit.

What’s the tastiest vegan burger you’ve ever tried? The most exotic?