Herby lamb burgers on a bed of cavolo nero

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The monthly farmers market came to our local town yesterday, and I was there bright and early. Picked up some beautiful veg to top up our current supply, as well as freshly minced lamb. Everyone loves a decent burger, and with the horsemeat scandal still making the front page over here in the UK there has never been a better time to start making your own.

Minced meat tastes so much better if you add lots of flavour and fresh herbs and garlic are a winning combo. For these burgers I’ve used rosemary, mint and a teeny tiny bit of sweetness courtesy of a couple of dried apricots. I like the organic dark brown sulphur dioxide free apricots, aside from not containing any nasties they taste great and make for a delicious snack.

My fridge is crammed full of in season dark green leafy veg at the mo, so I served the burgers up on a bed of sautéed leek and cavolo nero. If you’ve not tried cavolo before do hunt it down this Spring as it’s packed full of good stuff. Although this was enough for me, my hubby insisted on chips with his and who can argue with his logic? Burger & chips = classic.

Ingredients (for four):
(burgers) 500g minced lamb
Large clove of garlic – minced
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaf -finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint leaf – finely chopped
2 dried apricots – finely chopped
(side) bag of cavolo nero – thoroughly washed, any tough ends removed, each leaf chopped in half
Small leek – thoroughly washed and sliced into chunky rings
Knob of butter or tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
(optional chips) potatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper

Method:
– if you’re making chips do this first: a med sized potato per person is a good rule of thumb, scrub and leave the skin on or peel depending on how you like them. Before you start prepping your potatoes, preheat your oven to 200C non-fan/190C fan/400F/GM6. Cut into thin matchsticks and coat in olive oil, salt & pepper. Arrange on a non-stick baking tray and cook for 20 mins

– place all burger ingredients in a large bowl and combine well with your hands. Form four equal sized patties, ensuring you’ve been firm so they keep their shape during the cooking process. Set them aside to allow the flavours to develop, you could also make them up to 24 hours in advance and store in the fridge or freeze for a super easy meal another time

– when your chips have had ten mins melt the butter or olive oil over a med heat in a large saucepan. Add the leek, season to taste and cover with a lid. Cook for a few mins until soft and add the cavolo nero. Turn the heat down low and continue cooking with the lid on while you fry your burgers

– put a large non-stick frying pan or griddle on the hob over a med-high heat. Once really hot, add the burgers and cook for 3-5 mins on each side until cooked to your taste (personally I like these nice and pink in the middle, but you may want yours brown all the way through)

– serve immediately pouring any lamb juices from the pan over the top of the burgers

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Paprika beef topped with spicy roasted squash and crispy kale

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I set out to make a butternut squash lasagne the other night, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to spice things up a little. I kept things really simple, as always, and will definitely be cooking this fab dish again!

Since learning that it’s one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet, kale has become my new best friend and was a wonderful addition to this meal which traditionally would have some cheese on the top.

Ingredients (for two):
300g minced beef
100ml red wine
50ml tomato purée
50ml balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
Med red onion – finely chopped
2 lge cloves of garlic – crushed
Half a butternut squash – peeled & cut into 6 discs
100g kale
2 glugs of olive oil
Salt & pepper
Tsp dried chilli flakes (or more depending on your taste)

Method:
– preheat the oven to 175C/360F

– prep the butternut squash and arrange on a non stick baking tray. Drizzle over some olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Roast for 30-40 mins until cooked through

– while the squash is roasting make the beef component. Gently fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the mince and stir well until all the meat is brown

– stir in the paprika and give everything a good mix

– add the red wine, tomato purée and balsamic, ensure everything is incorporated well. Allow to simmer on a low heat for 20-25 mins

– once the squash is cooked, put the kale on the top and season to taste. Cook in the oven for 3-5 mins until crispy, taking care to ensure it doesn’t burn

– layer up your bowls with beef, then squash and top with the yummy crispy kale