It’s early Autumn here in the Netherlands and it’s been a beautiful sunny September so far. Amsterdam and the coastline are still full of tourists and I've been a professional tourist in a way myself! I was invited to contribute to a travel inspiration app so I have had a really lovely time visiting many of my favourite spots and eating my way around Amsterdam lately! During a food walk in the Jordaan area we had the most delicious spicy falafel burger at Burgermeester and I then realised that it had been a really long time since I made my own home made burgers. And because those taste much better than most bought burgers, even better than the spicy falafel one at Burgermeesters, I knew it was time for creative and tasty veggie burgers again. There wasn't much room for burger flippin' this summer while I was absorbed with making bowl food for the book . But that's about to change! A few days after my Burgermeester visit the Burger Queen in me awoke! I was dreaming about home made burgers with all the classic flavours and I knew I exactly what I wanted: thin slices of cornichons (pickled gherkins), mayo and tomato as part of my toppings; and mustard and lots of savoury umami flavour in the burger. I hit the burger lab - aka my kitchen - and created this humble burger that even my toughest critics - my family - said was amazing. I really love it too! So naturally I want to share it here with you. It's a really good base recipe and you can can make this as a classic burger or get creative by adding your own spices and alternative toppings. The construction is tried and tested: black beans and oats bind the mix and adds bulk. It makes a perfectly firm burger that doesn’t break apart when you handle it it doesn’t turn soggy and stays good in the fridge for at least a day and can be reheated easily. To achieve that savoury umami rich taste I used garlic, fried mushrooms, arame and shoyu. I added spicy sambal oelek and tamarind for extra interest. One of the reasons why I love the taste of this burger so much is also down to using ghee for the frying - it adds a really good flavour! More about ghee below. To make a 100 per cent plant based and vegan version I've added substitutes where needed in the recipe. So let's gather the ingredients! Making this burger is super easy, but it might require you buying some new ingredients! I’ve listed some "special" ingredients below and suggestions for what to substitute it with if you can't find them. ARAME Arame is mild flavoured seaweed that needs a little soaking. Adding seaweed enriches the flavour and if you can’t find arame use nori flakes instead. Or substitute with chopped scallions. Seaweed is really healthy in smaller measures, so it’s nice to sneak into food like burgers where it’s not so easily spotted by fussy eaters of all ages. You can usually find edible seaweed in natural food stores. TAMARIND PASTE Tamarind paste is made from the pulp of the fruit from tamarind trees that grow in Africa and Asia. It’s sour and a little sweet and has a broad culinary use and is popular in Asian cooking. You can substitute tamarind paste with Worcestershire sauce (it contains tamarind paste) or use lemon juice with a small amount of coconut sugar or ketchup. Tamarind paste can be found in Asian supermarkets. GHEE Ghee has been used for thousands of years in Indian cooking and it’s a staple in Ayurvedic cooking. It involves cooking melted butter until it starts to caramelize. This will give a nuttier flavour than regular butter. Ghee has been praised for it's lovely flavour and it can be bought in natural food stores and Asian supermarkets. If you want to stay clear of butter and want to use a plant based substitute, use a plant based vegetable oil for frying like coconut oil or rapeseed oil instead. NUTRITIONAL YEAST This is deactivated yeast and a powerful flavouring ingredient that is often fortified with vitamin B12 which is highly desirable for vegans as it’s one of the necessary nutrients that is hard to find in plant based food. For a family eating very little or no animal products it’s smart to sprinkle through dishes like stews and soups to boost the nutritional intake for vegan children. You can usually find it in natural food stores and you can substitute nutritional yeast with grated parmesan. SAMBAL OELEK This is an Indonesian chilli sauce with lots of flavour! It usually contains garlic, lime and sometimes shrimp paste and fish sauce, so not suitable for vegans. Substitute with Sriracha. You can find sambal oelek in Asian supermarkets and in well stocked food stores. Serve this burger with your favourite toppings and burger bread. You can add a slice of cheese to make a cheese burger or add a handful of grated parmesan to the burger mix for a cheesy version. My favourite toppings are avocado, mustard, mayo, Sriracha, cornichons and red onion! And I like a bread that is a bit more fluffy than dense, but with a crisp surface. Before I get to the recipe I’d like to mention one more thing! My book “Bowls of Goodness” is available for pre order on amazon, and it’s full of delicious bowl food including recipes like “The Loyal lentil Chili!” Find it here. The Amazing Black Bean Burger makes 5 burgers burger mix: a drizzle of vegetable oil 1 medium sized red or yellow onion, chopped fine 180g mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional) 2 garlic cloves 1 teaspoon salt 400g black beans ( one jar), rinsed and drained 100g milled oats a handful arame, soaked for 5 minutes, rinsed and chopped in small pieces 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (for a vegan burger use sriracha or other fish free chili sauce) 1 tablespoon tamarind paste 1 tablespoon shoyu ghee for frying ( use vegetable oil for a vegan burger) salt & pepper bread buns, halved topping suggestions: cornichons, thinly sliced cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced avocado, thinly sliced mustard mayonnaise (use vegenaise for vegan version) red onion, thinly sliced sriracha spinach or fresh green salad leaves If you want to have warm buns, begin by preheating your oven. Making the burger: Add the black beans and oats to a bowl and set aside. Crush the garlic cloves on the salt and mash into a garlic salt paste. Heat up a frying pan to medium high heat and add a drizzle of vegetable oil. Fry the onion and mushrooms with the garlic salt for 4-5 minutes or until the onion is transparent, while stirring. Remove from heat and add the onion-mushroom mix to the bowl with oats and beans. Add the chopped arame, sambal oelek, tamarind, nutritional yeast and shoyu. Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon or your fingers. Transfer to food processor and blend (in batches if you need to) and blend just enough to break up the beans - you want a crumbled texture, not too smooth so be careful not to over blend. Transfer the burger mix back to the bowl. (If you are warming your bread, now is the time to put them in the oven. Follow the instructions for your bread. Remove the bread when they’re done.) Divide the burger mix in five equally big pieces and form a pattie with your hands, ca. 7 mm-10 mm thick and 7 cm wide. Work on a smooth surface (I use a plate). Heat up a pan and add a teaspoon of ghee. Place a burger in the pan and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes, add more ghee if the pan dries out. Salt and pepper lightly. Repeat until the burger mix is finished, the mix should make 5 burgers. Assembly: Do as you like; here's how I layer the the burger! Half the bread. Add a layer of mayonnaise and top with a handful of fresh spinach or other leafy greens. Place the burger on top of the spinach and add a stroke of mustard. Top with cherry tomatoes, onion, cornichons and avocado, finally drizzle a wee bit of sriracha sauce on top and place the other half of the bread on top. Voila!