It is increasingly clear that a massive reduction in global meat consumption will be necessary if we are to confront the current climate crisis. The UN, in its damning report ‘The Global Resources Outlook 2019’, has called for a tax on red meat in order to encourage people to eat less meat. But many people find it hard to swap their favourite meaty-treats for more environmentally friendly alternatives. Removing meat doesn’t mean you’re removing flavour though. This is a tasty alternative which more than rises to the challenge. It isn’t vegan, but this halloumi-based recipe at least swaps cow’s milk for the less environmentally harmful sheep and goat’s milk. It is a fantastic mix of flavours, with a strong savoury hit from the halloumi combining with the refreshing zing of the guacamole, and nutty goodness from the houmous. It’s really easy to make, and is sure to satisfy even the most carnivorous of dinner guests.
I tend to serve these with sweet potato fries, so first thing to do is prep these and bung them in the over. Sweet potato fries are super simple to make, but if you’re short on time most supermarkets now stock them too. They’re healthier and more satisfying than potato fries, and are great with some smoked paprika (although I think most things are great with smoked paprika) or cajun spices.
Prepare your guacamole, by halving and chopping your avocados, and scooping them out into a bowl. Everyone think they’ve got the best guacamole recipe, and as a white British woman I would certainly make no claims to authenticity, but part of the joy of guacamole is that you can adapt it to suit your tastes. My style is to mash the avocados quite roughly with the back of a fork. Then pop in a healthy splosh of lime juice, and a twist or two of salt. To this I add quartered heritage cherry tomatoes. The variety doesn’t matter too much, but try to get as sweet as you can – they’ll be delicious little bursts of flavour in your burger. Stir this all up with come torn coriander, and a big pinch of smoked paprika.
To cook the halloumi, you simply need to chop it into thick slices, and place in a hot frying pan. You won’t need to the hob on the highest setting, but try to keep it fairly hot, as this will give your halloumi a nice grilled exterior. If you’re cooking on an electric hob, give the pan time to heat up before you add in the cheese. Try to resist the temptation to turn the slices too soon, they should get at least three minutes per side. The will end up with a nice brown, crisp outer, and a slightly squidgy inside.
While your halloumi is frying, you can toast your burger buns. My preferred, and I’m afraid rather basic, choice is the brioche bun. I usually halve these and just whack them in the oven with the fries. If you’re making your own houmous, this the time to whip it together. Mix tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and chickpeas (with or without skins depending on your preference) in a food processor, tasting frequently, for the fun of it and to check your flavour balance. You can add interest by popping in yet more of that delicious smoked paprika, roasted red peppers, or sundried tomatoes. You can make houmous in big batches in advance so it’s always ready (although this does increase the risk of all-day grazing on it, which I can rarely resists). Sadly, I lost my food processor to a drop on the floor, so I’m now making-do with shop-bought. To make up for this I’m using roasted red-pepper houmous.
Time to bring all this deliciousness together. Smother the top half of your bun with the houmous, then put a big splodge of the guacamole on the bottom half. Gently place your slices of halloumi on the guacamole, and balance the top half of the bun on top of this. The resulting tower is crammed full of vegetables and bursting with flavour. It’s so tall that I’ve never managed to eat it without the help of a knife and fork, but it is a challenge you may wish to accept. Pop on a plate with your sweet potato fries and any left over guacamole, service, and enjoy the satisfied munching of friends and family who once thought meat was necessary to make a good meal.
What vegetarian or vegan swaps do you cook? I’ve got a great mushroom burger recipe I’ll post at some point, although sadly this also requires the dearly-departed food processor. I’d love to hear what recipes you’ve used to convince your carnivorous friends to go meat-free, so please share in the comments below!