Healthy lamb, quinoa and feta burgers
I haven’t made burgers in years, but I’m going to start serving them more regularly now – I’ve been inspired after learning just how many nutritious ingredients you can actually pack in them.
My newfound interest in burgers is thanks to London’s Divertimenti Cookery School. A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend their Mum’s Weeknight Cooking class on my quest for healthy family meals.
The focus of the class is on meals that you can prepare ahead of time and adapt to suit both the fussy child and more grown-up palates.
On the menu were a range of tasty dishes, including braised chicken with tomatoes and artichokes and crunchy pork and cashew nut lettuce wraps.
The Cordon Bleu-trained chef leading the class was Martha Money (I love her name), who said she often serves up such dishes to her own two young children, which was reassuring. And she told us she that she too understands what it’s like to spend hours cooking, only to have your kids turn their noses up. All the mums there nodded bleakly at her words.
What’s the cookery class like?
Currently, the Divertimenti Cookery School is set in the basement of their store selling kitchen goodies in Brompton Road, west London. In theory, this means shoppers can peek at your culinary efforts while they browse for Agas and kitchen goodies, although I found that in practice, they mostly ignored us.
You’re greeted with tea and coffee (or a glass of wine before the evening classes), and sit down for an introduction and demo. Then it’s time to get stuck in with chopping and prepping.
It’s a full-on class – lots of dishes to cook – but we managed it, prepping for dishes in teams of four, while also picking up lots of knife skills and cooking tips at the same time. For example, did you know that you can freeze lemon zest?
The class started at 11am and we chopped and prepped non-stop till 2.30pm, by which time we were starving. The chefs then laid out a banquet of all the food we had made so we could taste everything.
Once we sat down to eat, we were all surprised by the tastiness of the dishes. But for many of us, the stand-out taste sensation – and biggest surprise perhaps – was the Persian lamb, quinoa and feta patties. Or in other words, the burgers. Here’s a picture of them before cooking.
These burgers are made using quinoa rather than breadcrumbs, which is just genius. Quinoa is a grain that’s really high in protein, and it also takes around 12 minutes to cook, so I eat it a lot instead of pasta.
My kids have been a bit funny about it – like many children are. But what I love is that once the burgers are cooked, the quinoa can’t be seen or tasted. Obviously it’s not a great way to encourage them to actually like quinoa, but this dish is perfect for those days when you’re tired of the battles and just want to make sure they’re tucking into some good stuff.
Likewise, the feta. While it’s still high-fat, it’s lower in calories and fat than many cheeses and it’s a great source of calcium. However, I wasn’t convinced my kids would like any burger that contained such a strong-tasting cheese. But once served up, you can’t taste it. Instead, the feta highlights and rounds out the overall flavours. Absolutely delicious.
The chef tutor suggested a couple of ways to adapt the dish to suit fussy kids – try cutting back a little on the mustard, for example. And if yours aren’t so keen on lamb mince, opt for a mix of beef and lamb, or just beef.
I made it using beef at home, and it was great too. Here’s my picture of the result.
Persian lamb, quinoa and feta patties
Recipe courtesy of chef Martha Money, from Divertimenti Cookery School
Makes about 12
500g good quality lamb mince
2 tbsp quinoa
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp dried oregano
Half red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed into a paste
150g feta cheese, crumbled
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Half tsp smoked paprika
Cook the quinoa – bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the quinoa. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.
Form into patties.
Place a rack on the baking sheet and arrange the patties on top, and brown and cook them under the grill for about 12 to 17 minutes, turning once while cooking.
Disclosure: I received a free cooking class for review purposes. Read more about Divertimenti Cookery School
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