Veronika’s aduki bean and quinoa burgers



“What’s for dinner, Mum?” my teenage daughter asked me when I picked her up from her after-school job.

I looked at her blankly. “You expected me to make dinner?” I replied when I was in my chauffeur hat.

It was a bit mean, I suppose, but I did smile pretty quickly to let her know I was joking. Of course there’d be dinner on the table when she got home!

When I relayed the story to her elder sister, the response was “We don’t expect you to make dinner, but we’re so grateful that you do!”

And dinner? I had made Aduki Bean and Quinoa Burgers.

I’d had the beans soaking in water overnight, and wasn’t sure what I’d do with them. Soup? Bake? Stew? And then my fridge reminded me I had a load of cooked quinoa which needed using up! Two birds. One stone.

Okay, so I had a lot of beans soaking, and a lot of quinoa to use up…
This recipe made about 30 good-sized burgers. My plan is to freeze a bunch of them (if the house mice don’t gobble them overnight!) Obviously if you don’t want to make this many, cut the recipe in half!

Scrummy. Satisfying. Filling.

Oh, and dairy free. Egg free. Gluten free.

A friend gifted me with some dulse flakes that I wanted to use in the recipe. Feel free to omit.

5 cups of cooked aduki beans
5 cups cooked quinoa (cold)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 T brown rice miso
1 T dried mixed herbs
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 T dulse flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 – 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
Generous grindings of course-ground black pepper
200 g tomato paste
Olive oil (optional)

A cup or so of brown rice flour for rolling

Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and pepper until soft. Add all the seasonings and mix well. Add a cup or so of water once the tomato paste is in. Mix well.

Mix everything together with the mashed beans and quinoa until the seasonings are well combined with the mixture.

Roll into burgers, and then coat with brown rice flour. Place on a baking sheet (drizzle with olive oil if you want crunchy burgers) and baked at 200C for 40 minutes. If using olive oil, turn the burgers over half way through cooking.

Serve with a green salad.

20150525_180337I adore cooking (unless I’m exhausted). Beans and pulses soaking overnight in water, fresh herbs on a sunny windowsill, chatting with my husband or daughters. The scent of freshly ripped basil leaves or ginger or lemon zest invading my senses. Delicious.



All these things, and more, make a kitchen feel like home. The scents and flavours absorb my attention. It is my creative workspace, and interestingly, it is in my kitchen cooking up meals where I often cook up ideas for my novels.

I dream of a large open-plan kitchen with conservatory style ceiling, and an Aga for those chilly Winter months, with a huge old oak dining table for friends and family to gather around. But even in a regular kitchen, I feel at home with my tools and ingredients.

A few years back, I wrote The Mystic Cookfire. It was meant to be a small collection of favourite recipes I cooked when I was editor of The Mother magazine and hosted annual family camps. The book is anything but small, with over 280 plant-based wholefood recipes, and a whopping 434 pages.



In amongst writing my novels, I have a couple of other recipe books on the go. In My Kitchen, and Cooking by Degrees (recipes for university students). I hope you’ll join me as I share recipes (all trial and error, of course) on my blog from time to time. I’d love your feedback.

Beans are a fantastic source of protein, regardless of whether you adhere to a plant-based diet or not. It’s easy to soak beans (and by soaking them yourself you’ll be unlikely to experience wind like you would with canned varieties). Simply soak overnight, and rinse, then leave to soak some more until you’re ready to cook.

Pinto and Sweet Potato with balsamic rice
Serves 6-8

500g dried pinto beans, soaked overnight (minimum of 12 hours), rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 peppers, chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 T tamari (wheat-free soya sauce)
4 bay leaves
Olive oil
4 T smoked paprika
700g passata
2 T sea salt
1 T coarsely ground black pepper
2 t bouillon
4 T balsamic vinegar
1 T honey or maple syrup
1-2 cups water

Cook the beans until soft.

When done, rinse and leave to one side. Cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft, then add the sweet potato, bay leaves, and peppers. When softened, add garlic and paprika. After a minute, add the water and leave to simmer for a while until the potato is tender. Add the remaining ingredients including the beans. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with balsamic rice and salad.



This meal always gets my family excited. If it’s on the menu, Eliza can be heard to swoon the words: “Good day, food-wise.” My reply is: “It’s always a good day, food-wise!”

4 aubergines (or eggplants, to my Aussie friends)
Olive oil
Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 onions
1 cup cherry tomatoes (or tinned, if you like)
200 g tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
Tablespoon or two of maple syrup, or sugar if you prefer
Handful of basil leaves

Béchamel sauce:
40 g olive oil (instead of butter or margarine)
40 g flour (gluten-free is fine)
500 ml plant milk (soya, rice or oat)
60 g vegan cheese
Nutmeg (freshly ground)

600 g potatoes



First things first. Slice the aubergines into rounds about one centimetre thick. Now, here’s the key to making aubergines taste good: don’t skimp on the olive oil. I’ve tasted aubergines that are simply awful because their talent for sponging up olive oil has been ignored! Splash a bunch of olive oil into the bottom of a baking dish. Place your aubergines (one layer thick) into the tray and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle more oil on top. You want your aubergines baked so they become golden. They won’t do this without the oil. Bake the aubergines at about 200C, on both sides, until golden, before layering with the other ingredients. While this is happening, peel and slice the potatoes about 1 centimetre thick, and boil till half-cooked, then drain.


The Mystic Cookfire, available from, Amazon and good bookshops

The Mystic Cookfire, available from, Amazon and good bookshops

Now, make the tomato sauce. This is what makes the difference between a so-so moussaka and one that you’ll want to make over and over again. Fry the onions in olive oil, and when softened add the tomatoes. It’s nice to use fresh tomatoes, but feel free to use tinned if you prefer. Add the garlic (chopped, not crushed) and the bay leaves. You’ll want to cook it for about half an hour till it’s well reduced. In that time, you’ll need to add a tube of tomato paste and a cup or two of water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the quality of your tomatoes, you’ll need to sweeten it a little. Maple syrup or sugar will give it a ‘yum’ factor. Add the basil just before layering your moussaka.

Heat the oven to 200C. Make the béchamel sauce by heating the oil, adding the flour, and stirring till well mixed. Add the milk, and whisk well until thickened. Add the grated cheese, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Don’t leave out the nutmeg!

Layer the moussaka by starting with a double layer of aubergines. Then place half the tomato sauce. Put the potato on next, then the remaining half of the tomato sauce. Add the last of the aubergine and place the béchamel on top. Don’t feel you have to have it smooth on the top. I like it when pieces of aubergine stick out. If you want, you can add extra cheese to it by sprinkling grated cheese on top. I prefer instead to sprinkle nutmeg on the top once it comes out of the oven. Bake for half an hour. Allow it to go golden. Serve with a scrumptious salad! And good music. We play Nana Mouskouri!