This grill comes from the frozen section, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much for one simple reason: I hate cauliflower. I have always hated cauliflower. My tastes have changed a lot over the years (mushrooms were my favourite, then I hated them, now I can eat them raw by the handful) but cauliflower has always been my enemy. My nemesis. It was time to face it down with these cauliflower cheese grills.
And, well, to be honest, they aren’t that bad. The coating around the outside is crispy and crunchy as you would expect, which makes a good topping (think mac and cheese). The inside is not really hugely cheesy, but the good news is that it is also not really hugely cauliflower-y. Cauliflower-esque. Call it what you will. It does certainly have flavour and it tastes good, but it’s not like the cauliflower cheese I remember disliking immensely as a child.
I wouldn’t say these were my favourite burger alternatives, not by a long run – but the very fact that I can eat them without complaint is a really big compliment to them.
This nut bake from Asda has an interesting concept. Much like the Brazilian grills we tried last week, it comes with a sachet of sauce that you can pour over the bake in order to enhance the flavour. This allows you to try it with or without the sauce – though in all honesty I’m still dubious about this format. It’s little more than a gimmick in my eyes – and when you are creating something for the sake of a gimmick, it’s not always going to be the highest quality in terms of actual taste and enjoyment.
Still, we gave this one a try. We both love sweet potato and are often using kale in our recipes, so this one couldn’t go wrong, right? I’m always a bit wary of something that calls itself a nut bake or nut roast as these terms, in my mind, are usually associated with boring and unimaginative veggie options.
The sauce was not too spicy, just nicely sweet and tangy, so in this case it felt like a good addition. Not perhaps strictly necessary – but still nice. The square bake had strong nutty flavours and was actually quite rich; the kale taste was mostly indistinguishable from something like spinach, so there wasn’t really anything that screamed kale about it necessarily. The various layers were great and there were chunks of sweet potato to enjoy. It had a varied texture throughout to keep things interesting, especially where the nuts were concerned. As far as bakes go, this was definitely better than I expected.
This week we’re looking at the interesting proposal which is Asda’s red pepper and chickpea Brazilian grills. There are a few things about them that seem intriguing right from the start: first of all, what exactly is a Brazilian grill? Why is there a sachet of sauce inside the packet? Isn’t it just a red pepper and chickpea burger?
We can answer that second question right away, as this is one of a seeming rise in sauce-accompanied frozen goods in supermarkets. The grill goes under the, well, grill, and the sauce goes into a cup of boiling water to defrost it through the sachet. When all is finished, you serve it up by drizzling the sauce from the sachet onto the burger. It’s an interesting, if unnecessarily fiddly, way of doing things. Of course, if you don’t like the sauce and would prefer some good old mayonnaise, you’re going to be in trouble once it’s already served.
Much as could be predicted, the taste is like that of a slightly spicy bean burger, with the added tang of the red pepper. Nothing unusual there. The texture is interesting but it’s also quite dry, which I presume is why some innovative soul thought of adding the sauce to the packet. Actually, compared to the burger, the sauce is really quite spicy and has a very strong taste. It’s got an overwhelming impression that I can only describe as “green”. I have no idea what’s in it and I don’t think I want to, as it was not entirely pleasant. It also looks pretty horrible and was quite greasy. To be honest, these grills are much better without the sauce. I can see why they’ve included it – but maybe they should have dedicated more time to making sure the burger wasn’t dry instead of just going with the sauce.
The Tesco Indian Potato Cakes sounded interesting enough to take a stab at. Not only that, but they were on offer with most of the frozen vegetarian section, so it seemed obvious to give them a try. We quite enjoy a curry in our house, especially as J has Indian heritage, so combining curry spices with a burger sounded like quite a good idea. We decided to cook them up one day to make burger wraps, one of my favourite lazy meals from university. There’s not much to them – you need a burger, a wrap, some lettuce or other leaf, and mayonnaise. Sweet chilli dressing, sweetcorn, roast vegetables, and etc are optional.
We found that the potato cakes just had a mild curry flavour, rather than being a stronger taste as you might expect. They have a quite sloppy and squishy texture which was a bit odd too! They didn’t cut cleanly or crumble when I was putting them into strips for the wraps. They more just sort of smeared everywhere. It wasn’t actually an unpleasant texture, but it just felt a bit strange in the context of a burger or potato cake. There were solid peas and chunks of carrot alongside the potato, but not much else that you could really identify. They were fine, but don’t expect them to be a solid, firm burger.
All that being said, they were actually the perfect fit for a wrap. Once you had them wrapped up and in your hands, they separated up nicely to ensure that you have a bit of burger in every bite. They went well against the lettuce as well. The eventual wraps were a little thin, but filling nonetheless. You could certainly bulk up by adding more peas and carrots to the mix to complement the existing flavours.
This week I’m taking a look at the Iceland Spicy Bean Burgers, which are available in the vegetarian freezer section and can be cooked either in the microwave or the oven. For the purposes of this review, I put them in the oven, although a favourite snack when I was a student with no money was to put them in the microwave. I would then cut them into strips, lay them inside a tortilla, and wrap them up with some salad vegetables. They are fine if done like this, but can be a bit soggy underneath if they get too damp.
When done in the oven they come out with a nice crispy top, which goes well against the softer interior. They are made up of kidney beans, other beans, sweetcorn, peppers, and no doubt some other elements as well. They are slightly spicy to eat, but by no means too much – you would be able to handle these fine even if you were not used to spicy food. They are very simple and quite plain, in terms of bean burgers, with no bells and whistles to them. There are certainly no fancy ingredients here – they have taken the idea of a spicy bean burger and stopped there, going no further. Considering that it is just £1 for 4, or in other words 25p a burger, there is not much to complain about there. They are a good freezer filler for those days when you haven’t had a chance to stock up for a while, or when – like me – you just want to grab something that feels a bit unhealthy and naughty but probably is not that bad for you at all in the long run.
It is perhaps debatable whether or not a bake qualifies as a burger, but based on the shape and the consistency, on this occasion I’m counting it. Particularly when it comes to being a vegetarian option, I think this one just fits the bill. The mushroom and spinach bake is available from Sainsbury’s, where you can buy a pack of four at once. They cook in the oven – I could say that they would probably do fine if microwaved, but I have never tried it, and I’m sure the breadcrumbs would suffer for it. They are quite “tall” compared to the average burger, and have a tendency to get a bit droopy in the middle once cooked – beware of them accidentally spilling out their insides before you even get them on the plate.
When cooked, they have a crispy and crunchy texture on the outside which goes very nicely against the soft and creamy interior. They are not too dry to eat on their own without any sauce, so you can get away with putting them in a more traditional burger setting (eg chips and salad on the side). On the inside, the taste has a touch of garlic to it, but other than that it is not too specific. Undoubtedly there is some spinach contained within the mixture, but it does not make too much of an impact on your tongue. The texture is definitely owed much to the mushrooms, and you can taste them a little as well, but if you were expecting a strong and rich blend of flavours then you may be disappointed with these bakes.
They are easy to cook and easy to match up with the rest of the meal, which makes them a good choice for a quick preparation. They are not too expensive either, so not a bad option all round. However, if you want something which is really flavoursome and could become a favourite for many meals to come, you are not likely to find it here.
Today, I wanted to talk about a burger which you can buy from the frozen section of Tesco, and which I’ve eaten quite a lot of over the years thanks to the fact that it is convenient to buy and doesn’t taste bad. Although we try to stay away from the higher calorie vegetarian stuff when shopping these days, we do occasionally treat ourselves to something like the Tesco Mexican Style Beanburgers. Sometimes – like the time I’m reviewing today – we’ll eat them just normally as you would any burger, and sometimes we’ll cut them up after cooking into small bite sized pieces, which you can scatter over a salad to make the tastiest croutons available. This is a bit more of an interesting way to eat a veggie burger if you are just starting out as a vegetarian and struggling to find variety. It also brings a bit more flavour and means that you’re not just stuck with boring salad night after night!
First of all, the cooking method can really make a difference to these burgers. When done in the oven they have a nice crispy texture on the outside and are nice and soft within, though not too soft as to make a difference to the Mexican feel. When done in the microwave (and to be fair, the package does not recommend this) they can go a bit doughy and chewy on the inside, and a bit soggy too thanks to the condensation. If you’re in a hurry, though, it’s not too bad, and it will only take you a few minutes as opposed to more than 20. This is what they look like after being cooked in the microwave.
They are a little spicy, but this can easily be countered with some mayonnaise if you are worried about them being too hot for you. The sweetcorn is one of the main tastes that stands out as you eat it, along with the kidney beans, so there is a nice bit of texture in there. However, it can be a bit bland when you get a bite that has no sweetcorn or is all kidney bean, so this can be a problem from time to time. The spices are the only other flavour which really comes through, despite the fact that there are other ingredients in there. All in all they are not too memorable, just an average Mexican burger which goes nicely with something like chips or salad if you want a quick and easy meal. You can also cut them into strips and put them inside wraps along with salad and dressing for a nice alternative, particularly great for lunch times. Don’t expect a 5 star meal to include these, but keep them in your freezer for those times when you just don’t want to spend time and effort on making something more creative.
On the Vegburge scale, I give this…
Taste – 5/10
Price – 8/10
Rest of experience – 6/10