Category Archives: edibles

Bank holiday Monday: Burgers & crumble

It’s been a full-on bank holiday weekend. We have seen two of our favourite families; the Olivers on Friday night and the Osbornes Sunday night. The weather yesterday was not too bad, by British bank holiday standards, so we got out the barbecue and planned a sumptuous vegetarian feast. Now, one of the best things about spending all day cooking for friends, is that dinner the next day is always fast to prepare and delicious.

We got up to the allotment for about five hours this afternoon and left it feeling like it was finally looking not too bad for May. We emptied the loam from the wooden compost area, filled it with manure to rot down, got the runners and broad beans into the bean bed, got the red onion sets in and transplanted the parsnips, wired the raspberry bed posts even higher, attached the guttering that fell of the shed to the polytunnel frame and had a fire! Okay, stuff that should have mostly been done in March, but at least we have some greenery in some of the beds now. Late May allotment

The strawberries are fully in flower, and we have some ripening in the polytunnel, the raspberry flowers are developing and the rhubarb is looking plump. So we cut some off to bring home for crumble. Burgers and crumble not a classic combination, but so quick, simple and fresh tasting.

Menu: Carrot and chickpea burgers and Rhubarb crumble. The burger mix, pitta breads, bulgur wheat salad and tikka marinated vegetable skewers were left over from yesterday’s dinner.

The vegetables were cooked as a curry and served with the bulgur instead of rice, and the burgers were fried on the hob – much faster than trying to barbecue although they suit the char-grilled taste well.

Carrot & Chickpea burgers:

  • 750g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • zest 1 lemon, plus 1 tsp juice
  • 150ml pot natural (or soya) yogurt

Based on the bbc good food recipe –

  1. Put 1/3 grated carrot in a food processor with the chickpeas, onion, 2 tbsp tahini, cumin and egg. Whizz to a thick paste, then scrape into a large bowl. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, tip in the remaining carrot and cook for 8-10 mins, stirring until the carrot is softened – it will become more golden as it is cooked. Add this cooked carrot to the whizzed paste with the breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Add seasoning, then mix together well with your hands.
  2. Divide the mixture and shape into burgers (we got around 12 small burgers from this quantity). Cover and chill until serving. Mix the yogurt with the remaining tahini and lemon juice, then chill.
  3. Fire up the barbecue, or heat a non-stick frying pan and brush the burgers with the remaining oil. Cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side, until golden and crisp. We served with pitta breads straight from the oven.

Pittas served with burgers. Carrot and chickpea burgers.

While the burgers were in the pan, the rhubarb was washed, chopped and put on the hob. It was not too long a wait for piping hot crumble, again, courtesy of a quick search on the BBC good food website.

Rhubarb oat crumble:

  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g oats
  • 85g butter, chilled (or vegan equivalent, like Pure)
  • 50g light brown muscovado sugar


  1. Tip the rhubarb into a saucepan with the sugar. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins. When soft and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. To make the topping, rub the flour and butter together until you have a soft, crumbly topping. Then add the sugar and oats, mixing together by hand or machine. Spread the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown on top.

Cooking rhubarb.   Mixing the crumble.   Crumble out of the oven.

Rhubarb oat crumble.

We served with a spot of Alpro soya cream.

A delicious end to a wonderful weekend full of friends, laughter, fresh air and good food.


Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup

I found this recipe in a magazine in 2003, and it was one of the few things I could tolerate making and eating with morning sickness, despite the spices.

Every autumn, it’s usually the first recipe I hunt for in my folder when the herbaceous perennials start browning and the hint of wood smoke hangs in the air.

Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup with spiced yoghurt
Roast tomato and yellow lentil soup with spiced yoghurt

Roast Tomato and Yellow Lentil Soup with Spiced Yoghurt
Serves 4

6 ripe tomatoes, skinned

2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli, chopped
25 g butter/vegan equivalent
200 g yellow lentils, well rinsed
1.25 L vegetable stock or water.
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

For the spiced yoghurt:

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp soya /greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6. Chop the tomatoes in half, crossways. Put on a baking tray, season, then dust with the curry powder and drizzle over the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

Place the onion, garlic, cumin seed, coriander seed, turmeric and chilli in a pan with the butter/vegan equivalent and fry gently on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the onion turns translucent. Add the lentils, turn up the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the stock, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the roasted tomatoes, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ground coriander, cumin and a pinch of salt to the yoghurt. When ready, pour the soup into warmed bowls, serve with a swirl of spiced yoghurt and scatter with the chopped mint.

On this occasion, I made a tomato-topped foccacia to serve with the soup.

For vegan equivalents, I substituted the butter with light olive oil and used soya yoghurt. Soya yoghurt (I had Alpro this time) is much runnier than the greek-style yoghurt, but it takes the spices beautifully and still sits on top of the soup for better presentation. I use marigold bouillon for making stock, it is both delicious and vegan!


Barely time to share all the amazing things we’ve been eating from our plot this year, I really hope that will change now my studies are coming to an end. The poly tunnel has made a massive difference this year.

Early August
Early August

Our allotment neighbour John gave us a few tomato plants, plum, sub-arctic and cordon (Sungold?) varieties. They complemented the tiny-tom, beefsteak and gardener’s delight that we grew. Marvellous! I have to say that the sub-arctic have been no earlier than the others to ripen, considerably later than the cordon varieties, the latter of which have been far superior in taste and texture.

Late August
Late August
Early October, plenty left to ripen
Early October, plenty left to ripen

Everything went in late this year, partly the late spring and partly the poly tunnel taking our weekends up…but we have been enjoying the tomato harvest over the last fortnight. We picked 3.5kg last week, and another 3.5kg on Monday this week. There are a fair few ripening on the vines still, maybe another 2kg, and we must have had about 1kg’s worth of the first to ripen last month, plus those we picked for the village show.

I’ve been trying to get creative with recipes so no one gets bored of this very small window of home-grown harvest goodness.

So far, the tomato dishes we have made are:

“Mediterranean soufflé”

“Tomato foccacia”

“Roast tomato and lentil soup (served with spiced yoghurt)”

“Pappa alla pomodoro soup”

We have also been using them in generic minestrone and stew type dishes, as well as including a handful of sweet cherry toms in the boys’ lunch boxes for school. I’m just about to go and make a big batch of roast tomato and pepper sauce for the freezer while they are still fresh. Recipes to follow…