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



New Potato and Edamame Salad

The father of a friend of my son has a potato farm in Jersey. He very kindly sent us a box of delicious early Jersey Royals. So flavoursome they don’t need much added to turn them into a delicious potato salad. You can buy podded, frozen edamame at most supermarkets now. This works well served with a tart perhaps, or just with some hummus, yogurt and flatbread.

The number is serves depends on how many potatoes you use and what you are serving with.

Small new potatoes (Any type will do)
A dollop of pesto – I used Basil but you can use your favourite type
A handful of edamame – or use broad beans or peas
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and cook for 5-8 minutes depending on size. Check they are just soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Bring more water to the boil and cook the edamame as per the instructions. If using broad beans, boil for 3-4 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water then pop the skins off.

Mix the potatoes (cut them into chunks if they are on the large side) with the edamame and pesto. Add a little olive oil to loosen the dressing. Then season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herbs

100g puy or green lentils
1 bay leaf
200g of your favourite grain (bulgur, millet, farro, quinoa, pearl barley)
1 smallish cauliflower of half a large one
half a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, salt
a handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
half a cucumber – diced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic – minced
2-3 large handfuls of herbs (parsley, mint)
pomegranate seeds

Start by cooking the lentils in a pan of water with the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for around 20 minutes until tender but holding their shape. Drain, rinse under cold water, discard the bay leaf and leave to one side.

Cook your grains as per the instructions. If in a hurry use bulgur as they don’t need cooking, just soaking in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Cur the cauliflower into smallish florets then fry in the oil over a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Fry for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Add the ground spices and a splash of water, stir well until the cauliflower is coated with the spice mixture, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a further 4 minutes until tender then allow to cool.

Take a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix well then add the cooked grains, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber. Roughly chop the herbs and add them too. Mix well then transfer to a nice serving dish. Finally, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and serve with flat breads and natural soya or dairy yogurt.


Warm New Potato Salad with Asparagus

It’s been a long time coming but English asparagus is here at last. I just can’t bring myself to buy it out of season, flown in from Peru or Thailand so I make the most of it at this time of year. This makes for a light but filling lunch on a warm spring day. The warm new potatoes soak up the flavours in the dressing.

I made this for two people

1 bunch of asparagus
1 small bag of new potatoes – about 5 or 6 potatoes per person
a few sprigs of mint
a handful of chives – snipped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime
1 small red chili – finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper
A few handfuls of bagged salad
Parmesan cheese – or vegetarian equivalent

Place the potatoes and mint in a pan. Cover with water, put the lid on and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or so until tender. the cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain, discard the wilted mint and place back in the dry, hot pan with the lid on to keep them warm.

Heat a griddle or frying pan on a high heat. Take the aspaargus at either end and snap each spear. It will snap where the woodiness in the stem ends. Discard the ends then place the asparagus in the hot griddle. Drizzle some of the olive oil over. Turn occasionally until slightly charred and tender then set aside.

In a large bowl mix all the other ingredients except the bagged salad and parmesan to make the dressing. Add the warm potatoes to the dressing.

Take two large plates of bowls, add a couple of handfuls of the salad to each then add the dressed potatoes. Place the griddled asparagus spears on top, sppon over some of the dressing then finish with a few shavings of parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler to do this).


Kohlrabi Salad

Start hunting around for recipes using kohlrabi and you will no doubt stumble across references to how ugly this less well known brassica is. I find this a little harsh and there is something quite beautiful about them with their purple skin and sprouting leaves, sitting atop the soil on the allotment. They certainly confused a lot of my fellow allotmenters who tend to grow more “traditional” veg. They can be hard to find but are very easy to grow if you have a little space.

I find kohlrabi are at their best when fresh and raw. The raw texture is like a very crunchy, juicy apple, but the flavour has only the slightest hint of sweetness. If you can’t find kohlrabi you could use raw turnips for this.

1 kohlrabi – peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
1 small white cabbage – finely sliced
1 bunch of chives – finely chopped or snipped
1 red chilli – deseeded and cut into very fine strips
Juice of half a lime (or lemon)
2-3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of ground allspice (optional)

Take a large bowl and mix everything together. Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes before turnign out onto a nice plate for serving.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese Salad

Another salad that works equally well during summer or in autumn when squashes are in season. If you are not a big fan of blue cheese you could always use feta or some other salty cheese instead. The saltiness of the cheese sets off the sweetness of the squash.

A sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts would work well here too.

Serves 4

1 medium butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
6-8 radishes – finely sliced
Mixed salad leaves
200g or so of a creamy blue cheese (gorgonzola, St Agur, etc)
Juice of 1 lemon
Good few glugs of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg

Heat the oven to 200C. Place the diced squash in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, black pepper and little grated nutmeg then roast for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Take four plates or large bowls and divide the leaves equally between them. Arrange the halved tomatoes and sliced radishes artistically on top of the leaves. Now scatter the diced squash, followed by the cheese which you can cut or tear into cubes similar in size to the squash.

Squeeze the lemon and catch the juice into a cup or mug then divide equally over the salads. Now drizzle a little more of the olive oil over each plate. Add a more salt and pepper if you think it is needed.

Serve with warmed pitta bread.