Butternut Squash and Chickpea Burgers with Smokey Garlic Chips

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Most of us have a love-hate relationship with takeaways.  Of late mine has been more of the latter, not only are takeaways really pricey, most of the time they leave you feeling pretty dissatisfied and a bit ill from all the grease.  For our little family a visit to most takeaway eateries costs between $30-$50 (obviously not fish and chips) which is ridiculous really for something that we could probably make at home for a fraction of the cost, with less grease as well as omitting all the extra preservatives and other nasties hidden within.   There is of course the convenience factor of takeaways but I am working on that!

For a long time we have been having Friday night ‘homemade-takeaway night’.  Occasionally it will involve a $3.00 chips from the local fish and chip shop to accompany what ever we have made, but more often than not it is entirely homemade and 100% guaranteed to not give you that takeaway guilt.

One of my absolute favourites is a good wholesome veggie burger and homemade oven chips, and this week I made these delicious Butternut Squash and Chickpea burgers.  They started off life as a left over meal,  I had a bunch of stuff needed using up, I bunged it all together and hey presto these no fuss, tasty and healthful burgers were born.  If you have the pumpkin and chickpeas already prepared the patties are so quick and easy to put together, for ultimate convenience the patties can be prepared in advance and frozen to be pulled out on your designated ‘homemade-takeaway night’.

Start by placing all the ingredients except for the semolina in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.

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You could use a stick blender or put it in the food processor if you like but if you use the masher you can retain a bit of texture.

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When you have mashed the ingredients enough for the mixture to hold together (the photo doesn’t look too appealing at this stage!) simply divide it into six portions and shape them into burger patties.  Pour a quarter cup of semolina onto a plate and roll the patties in it to form a crust.

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If you are making the patties in advance, they can now be placed in the fridge and will keep for 3 days or in the freezer for 1 month.

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When you are ready to cook them simply preheat the oven to 200’C and line two baking trays with baking paper.  Place the patties on one of the trays and lightly brush them with olive oil.  Wash two medium potatoes and two medium kumera (sweet potato), chop them into chunky chips then toss them with two cloves of crushed garlic, olive oil and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.  Place the chips on the second tray.

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When the oven reaches temperature pop both the trays in the oven and bake them for 30-35 minutes.  Halfway into the cooking time flip each of the patties and using a spatula shuffle the  chips around to ensure even cooking.  When the burgers are golden brown with a crunchy crust they are ready, serve them in a crispy roll with plenty of salad and some of your favourite relish or chutney alongside the hot garlicky, smoked paprika chips.

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Because our family is still only little this recipe is enough for two meals so I only serve three burgers and freeze the rest, and I find half the amount of chips is sufficient too. To freeze the patties I stack them with a small amount of baking paper between them (to stop them from sticking together) then wrap the whole lot in cling film.  Like this they should be good for a month or so.  When you want to cook them you can either leave them over night in the fridge to defrost and cook as normal or if cooking them straight from the freezer add an extra 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.

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Butternut squash and chickpea burgers with smokey garlic chips 

Prep time: 15 mins, cook time:35 mins
serves 6, $1.80 per serve

Ingredients:

butternut  squash and Chickpea burgers
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1 tbs mild curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of fine semolina or polenta
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 6 bread rolls, salad and condiments to serve
Smokey garlic chips 
  • 2 medium kumera, washed and cut into chunky chips
  • 2 medium potatoes, washed and cut into chunky chips
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200’C/400’f
  2. Place all of the ingredients (except semolina) in a large bowl and mash together using a potato masher until you have a mixture the will hold its shape.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 portions, then form them into patties approx. 8cm/3″ in diameter and 2.5cm/1″ thick.
  4. Pour the semolina onto a plate and roll the patties in it, to form a crust.
  5. Gently brush them with a little olive oil then place on a lined baking tray.
  6. To make the chips simply toss the prepared kumera and potatoes with the olive oil, crushed garlic and smoked paprika then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper then pour them onto a second lined baking tray and place them in the oven
  7. Both the patties and chips should take about 30-35 minutes to turn crispy and golden brown, just before they are ready to come out of the oven prepare the bread rolls by cutting them open and warming them through in the oven.  After 3 or 4 minutes take them out, spread liberally with avocado, mayo, chutney or other condiment, add some salad and your burger patty.
  8. Serve hot alongside the potato chips.

The uncooked burger patties will keep fresh in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 1 month.

Note: For how to soak and cook dried chickpeas check out my Back to Basics: Hummus recipe.  The amount used in that recipe will yield enough for these patties.  And if you need ideas on how to roast the butternut squash check out my Roasted Butternut Squash, Spinach and Quinoa Fritatta, 1/2 a medium butternut squash should be enough to yield 2 1/2 cups once roasted.

 

Leek and Potato Soup with Carrot and Kumera

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I was beginning to feel positively summery at the start of the week, I vaguely remember a warm day at some point, we even had dinner out on the deck!  As the week has gone on though, it has turned quite nasty, blustery with torrential downpours and feeling more autumnal than anything else.  Soup weather I think, and what better way to take advantage of the leeks that are very soon going to be out of season.

Another reason for soup is my not so little newborn is now nearly six months and starting to sample a few delights of the real food world.  So far he nums down avocado and is quite partial to a little kumera (sweet potato for those outside NZ) as well as carrot and regular old white potatoes. This is a great ‘two birds with one stone’ dinner if you too are weaning a little one.  Just leave out the seasoning until the veggies are cooked and you have had a chance to remove a couple of small portions for the little one,  then continue on as normal.

Back to the cooking… leek and potato soup is delicious but I can’t help but add in some extra veggies.  A couple of carrots and some kumera just sweetens it up a bit an ensures empty bowls all around.  So start by prepping the veggies, slicing the leeks and peeling and chopping the rest.

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Melt the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot and stir in the leeks.  Pop a lid on and cook them slowly allowing them to sweat and wilt down.

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Add in the rest of the veggies and give them a good stir to combine them.  The veggies are the star of the show in this soup so stock isn’t essential, if you have some stockpiled in the freezer go ahead and use it, but if not don’t worry, a tablespoon of good quality vegetable bouillon powder and 1 litre of cold water will more than suffice.   Whichever you choose, add it in now.

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Bring the pot to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until the veggies are soft but not mushy and the soup has thickened, about 40 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  If you want you can blend it or partially blend using a stick blender but I prefer to keep this soup chunky. The nature of the vegetables used means it is naturally thick so leaving the chunks gives you a bit of texture.  Serve with some grated vintage cheddar and some more black pepper and you have a hearty and comforting soup.

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Leek and potato soup with carrot and kumera

prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 40 minutes
serves: 6, cost per serve: $1.10

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 large leeks (650g), finely sliced
  • 2 potatoes (400g), peeled and cubed
  • 1 kumera (400g), peeled and cubed – any variety of sweet potato will do
  • 2-3 carrots (250g), peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbs vegetable bouillon powder + 1 litre cold water or 1 litre of stock

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot and cook the leeks gently with the lid on until wilted, about 10 minutes
  2. Add in the remaining veggies along with bouillon and water or stock.
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for around 40 minutes or until the veggies are soft and the soup has thickened.
  4. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  5. Blend or serve chunky.

Serve hot with vintage/sharp cheddar and plenty of black pepper.

Back to Basics: Hummus

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I had never seen so many varieties of hummus before I came to New Zealand.  Kiwis have an obsession with hummus and understandably so, it can be so healthy when made fresh, packed full of protein and fibre, calcium, iron, vitamins and antioxidants.

While convenient, a tub of hummus can cost around the same as a kilo of dried chickpeas, which will produce almost enough hummus to bathe in!  I highly recommend a visit to your local Indian supermarket or whole-food bulk food store for the best value, while there you can pick up a variety of dried legumes, dried fruits, flours, spices and countless other goodies at a fraction of the cost of the pre-packaged versions found in the supermarket.

You can of course use tinned chickpeas if you are short of time but for the freshest and cheapest option you just need a little planning.  Dried chickpeas need to soak for a minimum of 4 hours but I usually soak them at least 12 hours as this helps to activate the chickpea ensuring a quicker cooking time and unlocking beneficial enzymes, increasing vitamin contents and making it easier to digest just as with sprouting.

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Once soaked, the chickpeas should have more than doubled in size. Give them a quick rinse before throwing them in a saucepan and covering them with fresh cold water.  Then it is just a case of bringing them to the boil.  Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, this usually takes around 30 minutes but depends on how dry the chickpeas were and the volume you are cooking.

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You may find as the starches cook, the water starts to foam like when cooking potatoes or pasta.To prevent it from bubbling over, simply lay a wooden cooking utensil (spoon, spatula or chopstick) across the top of the saucepan.

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When the chickpeas are tender, drain them and set aside to cool completely.  Then place them along with the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz.

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As you blend the mixture scrape down the sides to ensure everything is incorporated, if the hummus is looking a bit dry or the food processor is struggling then add in a little water until it reaches the desired consistency.

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Taste as you go as well to make sure the seasoning is right.  There is no right or wrong so if you like it a with a bit more zing then add in some more lemon juice, if you think it needs more salt, add in a little more.  A word of caution with the garlic though;  as the hummus rests the garlic will infuse and its flavour will strengthen so if it doesn’t seem very garlicky when you first make it, let it sit for a bit before adding more, it can give that bitter raw garlic taste if you add too much.

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This recipe makes a couple of heaped cups of hummus and will keep for 3 to 5 days, so it is great if you are having friends over, you have a large family or like us you just love hummus smeared on absolutely everything.  If you don’t think you could consume 2 cups of hummus in 3 to 5 days simply soak and cook the chickpeas then divide them freezing half for a later date or using them is some veggie patties, a salad, bake them with some spices for a crunchy snack or toss them in whatever you are cooking for dinner for a protein and fibre boost, then halve the remaining ingredients to make a smaller batch of hummus.

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Hummus topped with dukkah as well as toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Use your hummus as a spread on toast for breakfast topped with some cucumber, tomato or sprouts, add it to salads in place of dressing or use it in sandwiches with some salad and cold cuts. Simply served as a dip drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of dukkah is also delicious …however you have it once you have tasted your own homemade hummus you will be a complete convert and the shop bought variety will quite quickly be forgotten.

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Three simple topping ideas from top to bottom; toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, smoked paprika and dukkah.  Each one drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil first.


Back to Basics:  Hummus

Total cost: $4.00, Yield: 2 heaped cups
Chickpeas – Soak time: 4-36 hours, cook time: 30 mins
Hummus – Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup/200g dried chickpeas
  • Water for soaking and cooking
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1tsp salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of extra water for blending

Method:

  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water, leave to soak for 4-36 hours changing the water periodically.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then place in a medium saucepan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender.
  3. Drain the chickpeas and set aside to cool.
  4. Once cold, place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor along with the remaining ingredients, blend until smooth.  You will probably need to scrape down as you go and add in some of the water to help the blending process as well as lightening the hummus.
  5. Once blended taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Also if it seems too dense add in a little more lemon, oil or water to loosen it up.

The hummus will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.  Remember to factor in how fresh the chickpeas are i.e. if you cooked them the same day the hummus will last for 3-5 days but if you cook the chickpeas 2 days prior then the hummus will only be good for 1-3 days.

Not quite Dukkah, Dukkah!

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Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment combining spices, herbs and nuts.  Traditionally hazelnuts are used for the base but any nut can be substituted.  For this one I am leaving the nuts out completely and going heavy on the spices making it an ideal topping for hummus or crust for a piece of meat or fish.  It is definitely another opportunity to acquaint yourself with your local Indian supermarket or bulk food store as buying the spices from the supermarket in those tiny little boxes or jars will make this recipe quite costly.  I just paid a visit to my favourite Indian grocery store and jotted down the prices as I went.

  • Coriander seed… $10.90kg/$1.09 per 100g  vs  $2.10 for a 21g box/$10.00 per 100g
  • Cumin seed… $10.00kg/$1.00 per 100g  vs $2.30 for a 30g box/$7.67 per 100g
  • Fennel seed… $14.00kg/$1.40 per 100g vs $4.00 for 30g jar/$13.30 per 100g

So the first lot of prices are from the Indian store while the second lot I got from one of the bigger supermarkets here in NZ.  As you can see the difference is significant almost 10 times the price in some cases, so if you want to inject some spice into your life you know where to go and it feels good to support the little man instead of these huge supermarket chains!  If you live rurally and you feel the  supermarket is your only option, don’t fret there are some great online spice traders that ship nationwide too!

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Now we have our bargain price spices sorted lets get to it.   No real measuring is required and you can play around with the flavours to suit your tastes and mood.   So start by toasting your whole spices (some coriander, cumin and fennel) in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat.  Heat them until they are aromatic and you start to hear the odd pop.  Then toss them into a pestle and mortar.

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Toast the sesame seeds and pop them in the mortar too along with a pinch of salt, then give the whole lot a bit of a bash.  Again it is up to you how fine you go.   And that is it…

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The recipe makes just under a cup and will keep for several months in an airtight container.

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Not quite dukkah, dukkah

prep time: 5 minute, cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 3/4 cup, Cost: less than $1.00

 

Ingredients:

  • 2tbs/12g coriander seeds
  • 2tbs/17g cumin seeds
  • 1tbs/5g fennel seeds
  • 4tbs/30g sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Toast spices
  2. Toast sesame seeds
  3. Lightly crush spices and sesame seeds along with salt in a pestle and mortar

It will store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight for several months.