Wednesday 13 December 2017

A vegetarian journey

Mary McCartney has dedicated her latest cookery book to her parents, Paul and Linda, to thank them for giving her a passion for vegetarianism

Mary McCartney's black bean burgers
Mary McCartney's black bean burgers
At My Table
Mary McCartney

Mary McCartney's second book, At My Table, represents a very special, personal journey "bringing to life the wonderful memories of those special occasions when family, friends and food mean everything."

The busy mum of four aims to fight the notion that a meal without meat - and certainly a special or celebratory meal - is not complete. Her ambition in writing her latest cookery book was to show that there are "endless and exciting possibilities for meat-free cooking, and enthuse many home cooks to try something new."

Born in London in 1969, Mary grew up in Scotland with her Beatles dad Paul, her photographer mum Linda, younger sister and brother, Stella and James, and older, half-sister, Heather. And what a childhood, judging by the incredibly happy family shots studded throughout the book alongside Mary's tempting food photography.

Mary was named after her paternal grandmother, the former Mary Patricia Mohin who worked as a midwife in Liverpool and spoke to her son Paul about his Irish heritage and his grandfather, Owen, who came from Co. Monaghan. Paul's first daughter, Mary was introduced to his music fans as the cute baby photographed by her late mum, Linda, nestling inside Paul's fur-lined leather jacket on the back cover of his first solo album, McCartney.

"As my dad's from Liverpool and my mum was from America, I grew up telling anyone who asked where I was from that I was half American and half Liverpudlian," explains Mary. "Mum was the main cook in our home, and my cooking style is influenced and inspired by her. This recipe (right) is based around what we would make for a barbecue at home. As a vegetarian family, we never liked to feel we were missing out by not eating meat. Traditionally, dad is in charge of the barbecue when we make this wonderful feast," said Mary.

Mary grew up with a love of photography and took the many of the photographs in the book, while her husband, Simon Aboud, took her portrait for the back cover of the new book.

Black bean burgers (gluten free)

I make these burgers with black beans because they are packed with protein and fibre. If you don't have black beans, then kidney beans are a great alternative. I love them sandwiched between a burger bun with all the toppings - sliced pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, Thousand Island dressing (or mayo and ketchup) and mustard. My advice is to never skimp on the toppings!

Makes: 6 burgers (approx 8cm wide and 1.5cm thick).

Prep time: 20-30 minutes.

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

You will need

400g tin black beans or kidney beans, drained

2 tablespoons light olive oil, or 30g butter, for cooking

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

140g mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tamari (for gluten-free option) or soy sauce

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1 spring onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

4 tablespoons buckwheat flour (for gluten-free option) or plain or spelt flour

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes, or ½ teaspoon Marmite (optional)

black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (if not cooking on the barbecue), for frying


Put the beans into a large bowl and roughly mash them with a potato masher, or blend them in a food processor for a few seconds. You want them to keep some texture, so do not over-mash them.

Heat the olive oil (or butter) in a medium frying pan, then sauté the onion for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and tamari (or soy sauce) and fry for a few more minutes, until most of the mushroom juice has evaporated.

Stir in the garlic, herbs, spring onion, chilli flakes and mashed beans, then allow the mixture to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and leave to cool slightly before mixing in the flour, nutritional yeast flakes (or Marmite) and black pepper to taste.

Divide the mixture into six portions and, using your hands, mould each portion into a patty shape (about 1.5cm thick and 8cm wide).

To fry the burgers, heat the 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium to large frying pan and cook the burgers over a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown all over.

If cooking on the barbecue, chill the burgers in the fridge or freeze them for a couple of hours. Then grill on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

Tostadas Deluxe (Gluten Free)

As a family, we grew up loving Mexican food. I think it was all about the assembly: when we were kids we loved putting together the prepared ingredients for a great taco or tostada ourselves, always a mouthwatering process. Healthy ingredients, vibrant colours and lots of variety make Mexican food a firm favourite for my family today.

Tostadas are a staple in my home because they're healthy, quick and easy to make and so satisfying. Corn tortillas topped with a chunky black bean spread and then sprinkled with cheese, red onion, jalapeño, tomato, avocado and lime. In a way, they have replaced toast as a base on which to build a great snack or light meal.

Makes 4 (1 or 2 tortillas per person).

Prep time: 10 minutes.

Cooking time: 5 minutes

You will need

2 tablespoons light olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying

400g tin pinto or black beans, drained

1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 small or medium red onion, finely chopped

1 ripe tomato, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño

1 avocado, halved, stoned, peeled and cut into cubes

1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander or parsley

Pinch sea salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (approx. ½ lime)

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 ready-made corn or flour tortillas, approx. 13cm in diameter

100g goat's cheese or feta, crumbled


Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, add the beans and partially mash them with a fork or potato masher. Then add the garlic and ground cumin and fry for five minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the red onion, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, coriander or parsley and a small pinch of sea salt. Add the lime juice and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and toss the ingredients together.

Heat the tortillas by wrapping them in foil and popping into the warm oven for around five minutes.

To assemble the tostadas, spread the black bean mixture over the base of each heated tortilla, then spoon the salad mix over the top and finish with a crumbling of cheese. Ready to eat.

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