Beetroot, Chick Pea and Quinoa Burgers

I now realise you can make burgers from pretty much anything provided you follow a few basic principles. You need something dry, something sticky to bind it together and lots of flavours. The dry part tends to be oats, or breadcrumbs, or nuts. The sticky comes from eggs, cheese or mashed pulses.

This came about as a somewhat random recipe. made from the sort of things I have lying about the kitchen. A few vegetables, a pulse I can mash to get the stickiness and some quinoa – yeh I know quinoa is becoming all a little bit too 2015, but it adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish and, when the burgers are fried, it’s the quinoa that gives it it’s crispy exterior, without the need to roll the burgers in breadcrumbs or the like. Apart from the quinoa, everything else is used raw until you cook the burgers themselves.

This made four large burgers – though I think dividing it into six would be more elegant perhaps

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium beetroot – peeled and grated
1 medium carrot – peeled and grated
2 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1x400g tin chick peas – drained
a handful of fresh parsley leaves and stalks
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
a splash of tabasco
juice of half a lime
a handful or so of rolled oats
olive oil for frying

Put the quinoa and water in a pan, bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the lid on and allow to cool.

Put the chick peas, garlic and tahini in a food processor and blitz to a rough mixture, a little bit like crunchy peanut butter. Add the grated carrot and beetroot, the parsley, paprika and oregano. Whiz for few seconds, then add the lime juice, tabasco, salt, pepper. Whiz again briefly then slowly add the oats and cooked quinoa with a quick pulse in between, until you have a firm, but still a little moist mix.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Divide the mixture into six (or 4, or even 8!). Roll each into a ball, squash into a flattish disc and fry gently in the oil for 7-9 minutes on each side. The top and bottom should be browned and crispy and the middle nice and hot.

I served mine with a red cabbage, carrot and chili slaw and a jacket potato. How are you having yours?



Courgette and Cheese Tart with Beetroot and Bulgur Wheat Salad

I’ve always struggled to build the right kind of relationship with courgettes. They are so easy to grow provided you have sufficient space. However some late summer they produce so many that it becomes a struggle knowing quite what to do with them all. On a good day I can pick 6 to 8 of them, only to find another crop just a few days later.

We recently had our first frost as winter starts to show its face and with that the courgette plants wither and start the process of becoming next year’s compost. Funny thing is, I miss them. I miss being able to pick my own and I refuse to buy them from the supermarket out of season. However if you are more relaxed about your courgette relationship you could try this tart

This is like a quiche but made with puff pastry rather than shortcrust. Despite blind baking to restrict the amount of rise in the pastry, it still takes on a life of its own. Very different to a traditional quiche or tart.

I served it with a salad made from raw beets, carrots and bulgur wheat.

To make the tart
1 onion – finely sliced
2 medium courgettes – sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
6 eggs
A splash of cream (optional)
1 pack of puff pastry – I use ready rolled for ease
150g crumbly cheese – Lancashire, Feta, Wensleydale all work well
salt and pepper

Put the oven onto 200C. Line a loose bottomed, metal tart tin with the pastry. This usually requires using two pieces of pastry so make sure there are no cracks in the join else the filling will leak through. Keep the off cuts for now. Pop a sheet of baking parchment over the base, fill with baking beans (or use dried beans or chick peas) to weigh it down, then bake for around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment. Let the beans cool and store them for reuse.

Meanwhile you can make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgette slices over a high heat. You want a little colour to develop as this adds some flavour to the otherwise bland courgettes. When browned and a little charred on both sides, remove and allow to cool. Turn the heat down and fry the onion gently until browned and starting to caramelise. Add these to the courgettes and allow to cool.

Beat 6 eggs with the cream if using, season to taste then add the cooled courgettes and onions along the the crumbled cheese. Pour into your par-baked pastry case. If you like you can use the off cuts of pastry to make a lattice top as per the photo. Brush with a little milk then place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until browned and the egg filling has set. Remove from the oven and from the tin and serve with the salad.

For the salad
1 medium beetroot
1 medium carrot
100g bulgur wheat
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
A very large handful of Parsley

Boil a kettle. Pop the wheat in a bowl. Just cover with boiling water and leave until all the water has been absorbed.

Take a large mixing bowl and grate the beetroot and carrot. Roughly chop the parsley and add this then add the other ingredients including the cooked bulgur wheat. Mix well and season to taste


Beet ‘n’ Bean Burgers

I first had a beetroot burger at Wholefoods Market on a recent trip to New York while trying to escape the cold and the rain. Then on a flying visit to Cornwall last weekend I had them again – this time at the takeaway hole-in-the-wall at Watergate Bay.

These can be made in advance and frozen. They work well on the BBQ too, just handle with care.

Make 6 burgers

1 onion – chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium beetroots
1 courgette
1x400g tin red kidney beans – drained
breadcrumbs – about 3-4 slices worth
2 tablespoons tahini
a handful each of parsley and mint
a few flakes of chili – depending how hot you like it
salt and black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Allow to cool.

Grate the courgettes into a muslin or teatowel and squeeze as much water out as you can. Put the courgette into a large bowl along with the peeled and grated beetroot.

In your food processor, put the cooled onion and garlic, the drained beans, herbs and tahini. Blitz until it looks like a smooth hummus then tip out into the bowl along with the courgette and beetroot. Add a few chili flakes, mix well then slowly add breadcrumbs until you get a dryish, sticky mix. Season with salt and pepper, mix again then shape into six burgers.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan then fry the burgers over a medium heat for about 8-10 minutes on each side until browned.

Here I have served the burgers with a smokey walnut muhammara (from Anna Jones’ brilliant book) and a fatoush salad.


Beetroot and Celeriac Slaw (and a Baba Ganoush recipe)

It’s been quite a while since I posted an update here. With this post you get two for one. Two recipes in one post, but perhaps not for dishes that work together. The main reason for writing up both recipes in the same post is that I only have the one photo, with both dishes in it!


The first is for a beetroot and celeriac slaw/salad. Whilst this dish uses beetroot and celeriac you can substitute any similar root vegetable (swede, turnip, fennel, or , though not strictly a root, kohl rabi), just shred them finely and use them raw. Beetroot does work well though both for colour and that earthy sweetness that compliments the creamy yogurt-based dressing

1 medium beetroot
½ head of celeriac
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and black pepper

Peel the beetroot and celeriac then grate by hand or in a food processor. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the grated vegetables and mix well until all the vegetables are coated in the creamy dressing.

The second recipe is for a baba ganoush, sometimes referred to as moutabal. I beautifully creamy, subtly smokey aubergine sauce or dip which can be served as part of a mezze. The smell of burnt aubergine skin is not particularly pleasant and can linger a little in your kitchen but you need to make sure the skin is blackened to get that smokey flavour.

1 large aubergine
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of ½ lemon
1 small garlic clove – crushed
olive oil

Prick the skin of the aubergine with a skewer or knife then place directly over a gas burner on your cooker. If you don’t have gas, place the aubergine under the grill. Make sure you do prick it in several places else it will explode.

Turn the aubergine occasionally until the skin is well charred and the aubergine is soft and collapses when you try to pick it up. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, scrape out the flesh and discard the burnt skin. Finely chop the flesh then add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic and enough olive oil to make a smooth paste (about 2-3 tablespoons). Season with salt, mix well and transfer to a serving bowl. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of ground sumac.

Roasted Beetroot and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

Last weekend gave us a very short glimpse of what summer used to be like. If summer ever returns, then this is great for eating al fresco. This would also work well with the addition of toasted pine nuts, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds or some walnuts perhaps.

The earthy beetroot, freshness of the mozzarella and sweetness of the balsamic work a treat.

Serves 4

1 bunch beetroot – about 4 or 5 beets
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella
Mixed salad leaves
Chili flakes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Juice of half a large lemon
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C, drizzle the beetroot with a little olive oil then roast for about an hour until cooked through and the skin is blackened and crispy. Allow to cool a little then remove the skin.

Cut the skinned beetroot into quarters (or smaller if very large).

Drain the mozzarella and pat dry with some kitchen paper then tear into chunks.

Take four large plates of bowls and arrange the leaves equally across the four plates.

Now add the beetroot, then the torn chunks of mozzarella.

In a small bowl mix olive oil and balsamic – in a ratio of about 3 oil to 1 vinegar. Add the lemon juice, salt and ground pepper.

Drizzle the dressing over the salads then sprinkle a few chili flakes over.

Serve with warm breads

Mashed Beetroot with Yogurt and Za’atar

Following my brilliant day with Yotam Ottolenghi in the Summer, I finally got around to making this delicious earthy, yet fresh and spicy beetroot dip. Serve as part of a mezze or as a light lunch or evening meal with some baked feta and pitta or khobez. Makes a welcome change to the ubiquitous hummus.

You can find za’atar in any Arab or Middle Eastern grocers. There are several different versions around but most are based on thyme, sesame seeds and sumac.

250g cooked (roasted or boiled) beetroot – peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic – chopped
1 red chili – chopped (remove the seeds if you don’t want it too spicy)
125g or so of grrek yogurt
75g mashed potato – not essential but takes a bit of the edge off the earthiness of the beets
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon za’atar
a little black pepper
salt to taste
2 spring onions to garnish – finely sliced

Place the beetroot, chili, garlic and yogurt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Don’t worry if you have a few smallish lumps of beetroot. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the potato, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, za’atar, salt and pepper.

Transfer to a flattish plate and spread evenly. Top with sliced spring onion. You can also add some chopped hazelnuts and crumbled goat of feta cheese.

Puy Lentil and Roasted Beetroot Salad

The allotment is a sorry sight this time of year. A few cabbages sitting amongst the weeds seem to be keeping the mice fed through the long nights and the purple sprouting is a favourite for the pigeons. I did however manage to salvage the last of the beetroot before the slugs got to them.

This is a simple dish and in the style of Nigel Slater and Hugh FW, it just uses things that work well together. Earthy beetroot and puy lentils, sweetness from the tomatoes and pesto and the creamy coolness of the mozarella.

Makes enough for 2 for lunch or 3-4 as a starter.

3-4 handfuls puy lentils
vegetable stock
½ red pepper – finely diced
3 spring onions – finely sliced
handful fresh coriander – roughly chopped
3-4 beetroot
125g mozarella – buffalo of cow
3-4 ripe tomatoes – cut into quarters
1 tablespoon pesto
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

Put the lentils in a pan, cover with stock, bring to the boil then simmer for approx 20 minutes until tender but still retaining their shape.

Drizzle the beetroot with a little olive oil then roast in the overn at 200C for 30-45 minutes depending on their size until the are soft are the skin has blistered.

While the lentils and beetroot are cooking put the peppers, tomatoes, coriander and spring onions in a large bowl.

Drain the lentils and add to the bowl. Mix well and season with salt.

When the beetroot is done, allow to cool a little the remove the skins and cut cut into dice.

Mix the pesto and olive oil to make the dressing.

To assemble, place the lentil mixture in the centre of a large plate. Arrange the beetroot on top, then add torn pieces of mozarella. Finally drizzle the pesto dressing over the top.