Ailsa McConnachie-Folwell’s Spicy Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Black Bean Burgers


What is your role at Manchester Met?

Sustainability Engagement Assistant.

What does that involve?

I encourage students to live and increase their knowledge of sustainability.

Which women inspire you and why?

As cheesy as it sounds, my mum is my greatest female inspiration. She has always stood up for what she believes in, challenged society’s attitudes towards women (wearing trousers as a teacher in ’76 was unheard of!) and she has always inspired, encouraged and supported me to do the same.

What is the greatest challenge to women working in Higher Education?

From my experience of working higher education, the greatest challenge to women is sexist comments in everyday life, whether they are intentional or not. Some colleagues need to realise that their remarks that they may find funny are actually offensive and demeaning to others.

What is your favourite recipe?

Spicy Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Black Bean Burgers

I love these healthy, nutritious burgers and I will never get bored with them. I add different toppings every time, although my favourites are spinach, hummus and avocado with a side of roasted garlic broccoli.

Makes 6-8 patties.

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 can of black beans (240g drained weight)
  • 170-200g cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons flour (plain/chickpea/wholemeal – any will do!)
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • a sprinkling of chilli flakes (optional but if you like spicy burgers, add more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil (or any oil)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and cut sweet potatoes into cubes. (I leave the skins on for extra texture and nutrition, but peel if you desire.) Toss cubes in a bowl with oil to coat, then spread out onto a baking tray. Bake sweet potatoes until soft and tender – about 20-30 minutes – then set aside.
  2. While potatoes are baking, cook quinoa to packet instructions.
  3. Pop the black beans in a bowl and mash about half of them for texture. Add the sweet potato, lightly mash, then 3/4 of the quinoa, flour and spices, and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Add more quinoa or flour if the mixture feels too wet – it should be very moist but moldable.
  4. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  5. Take a golf ball (ish!) sized amount of sweet potato mixture and roll into a ball using your hands. Put on tray and flatten down to make a burger-shaped patty. Brush with a little oil.
  6. Bake burgers for a total 30-45 minutes, flipping 20 minutes in to cook evenly on both sides. The longer you bake them, the firmer and drier they will get – it’s up to you.
  7. Serve in buns/with salad/wedges and load up on toppings – hummus, avocado, olives, grilled vegetables – whatever you fancy – enjoy!
  8. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. These freeze well too – perfect for an easy mid-week dinner.

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