Donna Hay's best-ever vegie burgers and three other lighter dinner ideas

The best vegie burger patties plus all the fixings.
The best vegie burger patties plus all the fixings. Photo: Con Poulos

Donna Hay shares four lighter midweek dinner ideas (and a dessert!) from her new cookbook, Week Light: Super-fast Meals to Make You Feel Good.

The best vegie burgers

INGREDIENTS

Week Light by Donna Hay.
Week Light by Donna Hay. Photo: Con Poulos

1 x 400g can black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup (150g) firmly packed grated carrot (about 1 carrot)

1 cup (150g) firmly packed grated beetroot (about 1 medium beetroot)

2 tbsp black chia seeds

½ cup (140g) crunchy peanut butter or hulled tahini

1 tsp ground cumin

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1 tsp smoky sweet paprika

½ cup (12g) flat-leaf parsley leaves

sea salt and cracked black pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 seeded bread rolls or burger buns, halved

4 cos lettuce leaves

8 small slices cheddar

2 tomatoes, sliced

⅓ cup (100g) mayonnaise or relish

4 large dill pickles, quartered lengthways

METHOD

1. Place the beans in a large bowl and press with a fork until roughly mashed. Add the carrot, beetroot, chia seeds, peanut butter, cumin, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Divide the mixture into four equal portions and shape into patties.

2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the patties and cook for five minutes each side or until golden brown.

3. Divide the bun bases between serving plates and top with the lettuce, vegie patties, cheddar, tomato and mayonnaise. Sandwich with the tops of the buns and serve with the pickles. 

Makes 4

Miso brown rice and broccoli balls

It's really easy to bake trays and trays of these rice balls and freeze them for later. You can swap the rice for quinoa or other cooked grains.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (240g) fresh ricotta 

2 tbsp white miso paste (shiro) 

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

2 cups (400g) cooked brown rice

2 cups (200g) finely chopped broccoli

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

sea salt flakes

¾ cup (100g) sesame seeds 

extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

miso carrot salad

1 tbsp white miso paste (shiro)

2 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

1 tbsp honey

300g heirloom Dutch carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and quartered lengthways

2 cups (50g) red-veined sorrel or baby spinach leaves

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place the ricotta, miso paste and ginger in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the rice, broccoli, onion and salt and mix to combine.

3. Place the sesame seeds on a small plate. Shape quarter-cup portions of the broccoli mixture into balls and roll in the sesame to coat. Place on the tray and brush generously with oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

4. While the broccoli balls are baking, make the miso carrot salad. Place the miso paste, mirin and honey in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the carrot and red-veined sorrel and toss to combine. 

5. Divide the salad between serving bowls and top with the broccoli balls to serve.

Serves 4

Crunchy quinoa schnitzels with buttermilk slaw

INGREDIENTS

Chicken schnitzels

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

1 cup (100g) quinoa flakes

¼ cup (30g) store-bought dukkah 

⅓ cup (55g) almonds, finely chopped

⅓ cup (25g) finely grated parmesan

sea salt and cracked black pepper

500g chicken breast fillets, cut into 2.5cm slices

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Buttermilk slaw

¼ cup (60ml) buttermilk

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp dijon mustard

sea salt and cracked black pepper

4 cups (360g) finely shredded green cabbage

1 fennel bulb (180g), trimmed and finely sliced

1 granny smith apple (120g), finely sliced

METHOD

1. Preheat oven grill to high. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place the egg in a medium shallow bowl and lightly whisk. Add the milk and whisk to combine. 

3. Place the quinoa flakes, dukkah, almonds, parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine.

4. Dip the chicken strips in the egg mixture, then press firmly into the quinoa mixture to coat. Place on the tray and drizzle with oil. Place the tray on a middle shelf of the oven and cook for five minutes. Turn and cook for a further five minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crunchy and the chicken is cooked through.

5. To make the buttermilk slaw, place the buttermilk, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, fennel and apple and toss gently to coat in the dressing. 

6. Divide the schnitzels between serving plates and serve with the slaw.

Serves 4

Mint, pea, spinach and chia fritters. Recipe from Week Light: Super-Fast Meals to Make You Feel Good by Donna Hay. Published by HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd. RRP $45. Pic credit: Con Poulos For Good Food Magazine, October 4, 2019. Photographer: Con Poulos (Single print and online use) GOOD FOOD RGB

Photo: Con Poulos

Mint, pea, spinach and chia fritters

I always make a few more of these clean green fritters than I need – just wrap and keep them in the fridge for one to two days – they're the best for school lunchboxes or to add to your work salad.

These fritters are also great for party nibbles. Cook one-tablespoon portions of the mixture and top them with a small spoonful of tzatziki. If you like, add a little smoked salmon to serve.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (120g) frozen peas, thawed

250g frozen spinach, thawed

½ cup (8g) mint leaves, chopped

¼ cup (6g) dill sprigs, chopped

1 cup (240g) fresh ricotta

2 eggs

¼ cup (50g) chia seeds

sea salt and cracked black pepper

extra virgin olive oil, for cooking

To serve

lemon cheeks

rocket

store-bought tzatziki

shredded mint leaves, extra

METHOD

1. Place the peas in a large bowl, crush with a fork until partially mashed and set aside. 

2. Place the spinach in a sieve and press to remove the excess water. Place between sheets of absorbent kitchen paper and squeeze to remove any remaining moisture. Roughly chop the spinach, add to the peas and mix to combine.

3. Add the mint, dill, ricotta, eggs, chia seeds, salt and pepper to the pea mixture and mix to combine. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

4. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan. Using wet hands, shape quarter-cup portions of the mixture into patties. Cook, in batches, for three minutes each side or until golden brown, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Remove the fritters from the pan and keep warm. 

5. Divide the fritters between serving plates with the lemon cheeks, rocket and tzatziki. Sprinkle with extra mint to serve.

Makes 8

Choc fudge popsicles. Recipe from Week Light: Super-Fast Meals to Make You Feel Good by Donna Hay. Published by HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd. RRP $45. Pic credit: Con Poulos For Good Food Magazine, October 4, 2019. Photographer: Con Poulos (Single print and online use) GOOD FOOD RGB

Photo: Con Poulos

Choc-fudge popsicles

​The best way to remove the frozen popsicles is to place the moulds under warm (not hot) running water for a few seconds. Allow them to stand for another 30 seconds and they should release easily.

INGREDIENTS

1¾ cups (430ml) coconut cream, at room temperature 

75g dark (70 per cent cocoa) chocolate, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 soft fresh dates (120g), pitted

METHOD

1. Place the coconut cream, chocolate, vanilla and dates in a blender and blend until smooth. 

2. Divide the mixture between eight x ⅓-cup-capacity (80ml) popsicle moulds. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for two hours or until solid.

Makes 8

Recipes extracted from Week Light by Donna Hay, RRP $45.00 available at all good bookstores and donnahay.com.au, recipes and styling Donna Hay, photography Con Poulos.