Healthy Burgers and Green Salad

Let’s try a straight-forward title – because these two dishes combined would make for quite the long title.

The Burgers – ‘Turkey & Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion & Cumin’ – and the Salad ‘Feta, Parsley & Barley Salad’ both come from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Both were packed with flavour – if a little heavy on the raw garlic.

We chose this meal today out of necessity more than anything else. Many of the ingredients were in desperate need of cooking – or going in the bin. Especially the fresh herbs. There’s only so long you can keep cut coriander and parsley before if starts to yellow. I remember on Masterchef Australia a few years ago that George Calombaris swore that the only way to store herbs was rolled in kitchen towel – but this has never worked for me. If anyone has any great tips I’d love to know how to prolong their life.

The initial plan for today’s dinner was a Spicy Beetroot, Leek and Walnut Salad (with the Turkey burgers) but the beets needed 90 mins in the oven and we didn’t really want to wait that long to eat dinner, so we subbed in the Barley Salad instead. In hindsight, the beetroot would have been better – as the garlic and parsley did somewhat overpower the burgers. I love strong punchy flavours but Freya struggled. Fortunately we have enough for the same burgers tomorrow – this time with the beets – so we will see if the balance of flavour is better.

As much as lockdown is terrifying and frustrating, it has given me a new-found desire to cook again. It has made me plan meals better; portion control better; and it has also made me take more pride in my kitchen. I wash up as I go, have become more methodical, and leave the kitchen spotless after every meal. It is so much easier to cook in a tidy clean kitchen when you know where everything is, and what you have, and that you don’t need to clear up before you start the next meal!

Back to the food. There’s so much in these burgers; turkey, courgette, spring onions, coriander, mint, garlic, cumin and cayenne. It was hard to believe a single egg would bind it all together. But it did – sort of! You just chuck all this stuff together and fry them off in batches. I made half the burgers that were suggested – and will have the others tomorrow.

The accompanying dip is a triumph. One to keep for almost any other dish; sour cream, yoghurt, garlic, lemon (zest and juice), sumac and olive oil all mixed together and seasoned. I added some more of my preserved lemon salt for a bit more punch. This punchy yoghurty healthy sauce/dip really worked well with the burgers; I think it’d also work nicely with baked salmon, chicken and other lighter meats.

The salad was pretty simple too. Apart from the barley prep (boil it for 30 mins) everything else is raw. Marinate some feta in oil, za’atar, cumin and coriander seeds and then chop parsley, spring onions, cashews, green pepper and garlic. Throw it all together and serve with a squeeze of lemon and a little all-spice.

I definitely overdid the garlic in this. Or should I say – the garlic cloves were just massive – I should have used half as much as the hit from the parsley AND the garlic was a bit much for Freya.

This is a great healthy meal. Just go easy on the garlic!

Beetroot Burgers with a Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

Beetroot Burgers with Blackbean and Blueberry Salsa

And now for something completely different!

I’ve dabbled with non-meat burgers before from many other chefs and I’ve always had the issue with them falling apart. I wondered if the same would happen with these burgers from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook.

We love beetroot. Not the processed cooked kind you get in jars or plastic wrap but raw beetroot that you either roast yourself or eat raw in salads.

These burgers caught my eye because of the colours. They looked so moist, bright and purple that I had to give them a go. Looking through the ingredients list I figured they were pretty healthy too and had a good chance of holding their form.

This is another one pot – well in this case a food processor – dish. Get your magimix out and add raw beetroot, carrot, onion, garlic, chickpeas, porridge oats, an egg and some spices – and blend it all together to a thick paste. I thought my paste was a little too wet so I added some more porridge oats. Not sure if I needed to but it didn’t affect the outcome.

Then, simply make patties out of the mix and fry in a pan until they start to brown. Turn them a couple of times while you cook them. I used 2 spatulas because I was convinced they were going to fall apart. They didn’t – I was pleasantly surprised.

Once cooked allow them to cool – they will firm up if you do. And it gives you time to make the salsa.

This salsa was very easy too. It’s just chopped red onion, a tin of black beans, blueberries, garlic, red chilli, paprika, sugar, lime and cider vinegar all mixed together with a little oil and seasoning.

Very very simple. And surprisingly tasty. It’s not something I would have thought of putting together but it certainly works – especially with the burger.

As you can see I served the burger on a plate with the salsa. It tastes far better than it looks – and it looks pretty good – it’s just that red food is very hard to photograph in low light.

Also, its strange that picture makes the burger look wet and sloppy but it really wasn’t at all. It does have a falafel feel to it and I think it would be better server in a wrap. Obviously you’re then adding a bread element to your meal – but where’s the harm in that!