Sorry if I am being too technical, but I just can’t help myself. You know me – such a tech head. Joke.Today I’ve been all geared up for a delivery from the most welcoming van in the UK – the big green John Lewis van. I was so looking forward to greeting my shiny new Neff oven, and the two nice men who were going to put it in. Heck I had even brushed my hair. On a day off. I know, right?
It was all going so well. The chaps duly arrived – near as damn it to the very minute they indicated. Oh, how my pulse began to race. I could hardly wait to put the oven through its paces: would it burn the kale I had on standby to make into chips? (a good test of an oven, I should think); would I be able to hear the timer go off while watching Big Bang Theory reruns (crucial)? Cakes and roasted veggies could wait. I had a date with some kale chips and Sheldon Cooper first.
The men soon interrupted my reverie by asking all kinds of impertinent questions, such as ‘where’s your oven circuit switch?’ (Uh, dunno. What’s that?) and the classic, ‘how many amps is your current oven?’ Sorry?
Responding to my profound ignorance with good grace and only the slyest hint of a smile, they pulled out the old oven. A shameful shower of ossified crumbs zinged to the floor from underneath as they set about installing the new oven. Before too long I heard the dreaded “Mrs Anderson. We have a problem.”
I know that in the matrix of possible problems one can have what came next is not really a problem. I get that. But from being on a weird sort of “I have a new major appliance” high to “oh, that’s okay. It’s not your fault we have inadequate ampage (is that a word?) for you to install my precious, gleaming temple of instant heat. Just leave it useless and impotent in the guest bedroom until I can get an electrician to dig under my floor with a mile of new cabling so my new oven doesn’t blow up. That’s fine.” Well, I was kinda bummed. Still am.
Yes, I am a bit passive-aggressive today.
Thankfully I have a very kind neighbour with connections in the mysterious world of electricians. Tommy has done the near impossible and is arranging for a mate of his to come out tonight at 8 for a look-see. I am expecting a bit of teeth sucking and head shaking, but I am prepared for that. Just getting someone who knows about amps and isolator thingy whats-its is good enough at this point. Perhaps next post I will have a cake to show you. Or some shiny, crispy GREEN kale chips. For now it is the tiny non-fan oven and my gas hob.
One thing that isn’t bumming me out is turning 50 yesterday. That was really okay. I don’t suddenly feel decrepit (I’ve felt that way for ages already) or especially wrinkly. I did however get an invitation for bowel screening last week. Why they don’t wait one more week until you are actually 50, I don’t know. I could have done without that. I am half-expecting an invitation to buy Saga insurance to land on the doormat any day now…
So to these burgers. They are pretty darn good. They don’t quite make up for not having an oven, but close.
I’m not sure where the idea came from. I occasionally do the old black bean burger thing (love them) but I had some leftover lentils and quinoa and thought they would make nice burgers. And then I started craving something salty and thought I would whizz up some tapenade (as you do, obviously). Then there was tiny click in my mind. Unlike the big bang that happened in my oven. So I just started messing about and et voila, Provencal Lentil Burgers.
These use homemade tapenade, but you could of course use bought (it usually has anchovies though, so watch out if you are vegan). I felt I needed to amp up (geddit?) the savoury with extra olives, as well as some fresh herbs – to complement the herbes de Provence. Quinoa and lentils both need help, I think, and this kind of help seems to really work. You be the judge though. Oh, and I used an egg to bind, but I just know that a chia or flax ‘egg’ would work just fine.
I must also confess – and you can see for yourself – that they look alarmingly like Scottish black pudding. For those of a sensitive disposition I will save you from yourself by not putting a hyperlink to the definition of black pudding. Don’t even think about googling it, okay?
So folks, I am crossing my fingers that the only big bangs tonight will be on the telly. Wish me luck! Best go now and brush my hair. Again.
Two years ago: Pasta with Purple-Sprouting Broccoli and Chili-Lemon Crumbs
Three years ago: Carrot and Celeriac Soup
Miss R’s track of the week: Foxes cover Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ on BBC Radio One Live Lounge (with clever sampling of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’)
I doubt anyone in Provence makes anything like this, but the flavours are so stereotypically Provencal that I should be posting this in a field of lavender!
This is a good recipe for using leftover cooked Puy (or Puy-type) lentils and quinoa, although making them just for the recipe is easy enough.
The fancy sounding carrot thing is a simple shredded carrot salad that you see all over France. It is one of those things that when on holiday in France we will buy a tub of, and it seems to go with everything. Of course it is much better to make it yourself. Same with tapenade, but the lentil burgers will happily cosy up with pretty much anything you normally like on a burger. You can even crumble the cooked burgers onto a pile of thinly peeled or shredded vegetables – carrots, courgettes, radish – for a pseudo pasta dish with a difference. We had it on crispy Gem lettuce as well as some (bought) olive and pumpkin seed bread.
Makes about 10 burgers (they reheat well; the mix keeps too); one ‘jam’ jar of tapenade; one small salad
1 tsp rapeseed oil or plain olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely minced
4 spring onions/green onions/scallions, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp herbes de Provence or dried mixed herbs
2 cups (335g) cooked Puy or Puy-type lentils
2 cups (325g) cooked and cooled quinoa (I used red, but any colour is fine)*
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten OR chia/flax egg
¼ cup tapenade
10-12 sliced Kalamata or Nicoise olives
Freshly ground black pepper
Oil for frying
Gently sauté the chopped celery, spring onions and garlic until soft; add the dried herbs and heat through until they release their fragrance. Set aside to cool a little.
Put two-thirds each of the cooked lentils and quinoa in the bowl of a food processor, along with the thyme leaves, parsley, egg and tapenade. Pulse until just blended – about eight pulses. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, as necessary. Now add in the rest of the lentils and quinoa and pulse 2-3 times.
Scrape the lentil burger mix into a mixing bowl and stir in the chopped olives and black pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour, or overnight if you like.
Heat a little oil (remember the patties are full of olives and tapenade so have oil themselves) in a frying pan over a medium heat. Shape the burgers and cook in batches for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until lightly crispy. Transfer the cooked burgers to a paper-towel or cloth-lined plate and cook the remaining burgers.
Note: watch the burgers as they may burn if the temperature is too high or you leave them too long. I wandered off on the first batch to check my phone and BAM, very done burgers. Not burnt, but flirting with burnt. Still delicious! I also had success with just some oil spray and then popping onto an oven tray and slipping them into a moderately hot (top) oven for a few minutes. They are not the most solid of burgers so take care when flipping.
* 1 cup (175g) raw quinoa makes about 3 ½ cups (565g) cooked quinoa. Make this amount, use 2 cups, and have leftovers for salady things for your lunch! (see Index for ideas).
Makes one ‘jam’ jar of tapenade. You will use about 1/3 in the recipe above. Don’t quote me though. To store, cover the top with olive oil, close the lid tightly and store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
200g whole Nicoise or Kalamata olives (I could only get Kalamata)
3 tbsp capers – rinsed if salted; otherwise drained
1 fat clove of garlic (smoked is very nice)
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp of best extra virgin olive oil
Stone the olives. Although I have an old-fashioned cherry stoner I tend to just use the back of a heavy chef’s knife – WHACK – on a few olives at a time, and pull out the dazed and stunned olive stone. Pop the stoned olives in a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until just shy of smooth. A little texture is good
Salade de Carottes Râpées (Carrot Salad)
A classic French salad that goes with everything. I have done the slightly sacrilegious thing of adding a little grain mustard, but don’t tell anyone.; it’s not really supposed to be spiky. Adjust the sugar and mustard (if using) to your liking. Heck, adjust it all to your liking.
Makes a small bowl of salad to use as a garnish for the burgers.
2 flavourful large carrots
small handful of roughly chopped parsley
Juice ½ lemon
2 tbsp best extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp sugar or honey
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard (optional)