I promised at the end of our veggie month to start a series of posts of vegful feasts - great meals that are either vegetarian, or have loads of extra veg tucked inside to make the meat go further, without sacrifising on taste. So here's my first one. And it's a corker (even if I do say so myself).
One of my favourite recipes of all time is Nigel Slater's lamb and beetroot meatballs. Coming from someone that only started eating meat and beetroot - both slightly reluctantly - a couple of years ago that's a pretty big compliment! They're one of the most flavourful, succulent things I've ever tasted. Along with the lamb and beetroot they contain a good garlic punch, fresh dill and parsley, and bulgar wheat (and a few other store cupboard bits and bobs too). When cooked it's amazing - the additional ingredients seem to enhance the flavour of the meat rather than dilute it. Having grown up on a traditional meat and two veg diet this truly inspired way of cooking meat that is a revelation to me.
Another current favourite along similar lines are the amazing turkey, courgette and cumin mini-burgers in one of my favourite cookbooks, Jeruselum by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They're a delicious mixture of minced turkey, grated courgette, fresh herbs, cumin, spring onions with some cayenne pepper and an egg to bind them together. The recipe suggests using fresh corriander and mint. I've actually tried them with various combinations of parsley, corriander and mint and they've all tasted great. I actually added some bulgar wheat to these once too as we had guests coming and the recipe portions are a bit stingy - still lovely.
I'm not including the full recipe here - partly because I don't want to fall foul of copyright law - but mainly because the beauty of this idea is that, following a pretty basic approach you can add whatever amazing veg and flavours you fancy.
You can pretty much see the basic process in the pictures above:
1. Put your minced meat, grated veg, herbs, cooked carbs (e.g. bulgar wheat or couscous) and spices in a bowl, add an egg (or just some leftover egg white if you have some that needs using up). For 400g to 500g of meat it seems like you can add 200g to 250g of grated veg and around 75g (dried weight) of carbs.
2. Squish everything together with your hands and shape into small patties.
3. Fry the patties until browned on all sides and then finish of in a medium hot oven until cooked through - 10 to 20 mins depending on the size.
4. Serve with a tangy yoghurty dressing of some sort - the turkey burgers below have a zesty sauce with added sumac.
The two combinations I mention are definitely worth seeking out. They're going to stay on our menu as firm favourites. Little M is a particular fan (although we've toned the garlic down a bit for her) and even the fussy little M has braved the lamb ones. I'm also looking forward to experimenting a bit. Top tips for new combos welcome!
My garden is a bit lacking in herbs at the moment so I usually have to buy big buches from the shops for recipes like these. Fresh pesto is a great way to use up the leftovers. I tried out a new recipe for coriander pesto that I discovered in The Simple Things magazine (well worth a read) after making the turkey patties. Very zingy and morish - it didn't last long!
I really do have enough great cookbooks but I'm quite tempted by this one - a whole host more meatball inspiration!