It’s been a year since a freak accident caused me to give up the allotment plot I had kept for eight years and which had come to be known as the Circus Garden. It was a real wrench to leave it behind.
Once I had recovered (I had suffered multiple rib fractures), I agreed with my wife Sara that I would take over responsibility for maintaining our garden. For years it had served as a cricket and football pitch for our growing children, and was little more than a lawn.
That was about to change.
The transformation has not been easy. I have had to negotiate with Sara for every inch of lawn that I have converted to growing soil (she likes having a lawn and loves to sunbathe – despite my constant admonitions – and she was determined not to lose it, only the responsibility for mowing it). In the end I managed to secure an area about a tenth of the size of my old allotment plot, and over the last twelve months I have gradually transformed that small area into an organic potager-style garden.
Despite the limited growing space we are currently harvesting lots of courgettes (three different varieties – Genovese, yellow zucchini and Rondo ni Nizza), beetroot (also three different varieties – golden globe, Barabietola di Chioggia and boltardy), red spring onions, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, rhubarb chard and cavalo nero, as well as a bountiful supply of fresh herbs including basil, mint, chives, parsley, oregano, French tarragon, Thai basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, dill and fennel.
Still to come are chickpeas, artichokes, romanesco cauliflower, Japanese red onion squash, radicchio, Florence fennel, butternut squash, various outdoor tomatoes, leaf salads, pears and sweetcorn. Planted in amongst this lovely produce is a sea of flowers to attract pollinators, including lavender, jasmine, California poppy, clematis, hollyhock, achillea, campanula, honeysuckle, cornflower, foxglove and sunflower.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on, but our garden is modestly sized. With careful utilisation of space we have reached an arrangement which still allows Sara to stretch out on the careful manicured lawn to work on her suntan whilst I have room to potter about contentedly in amongst my beloved plants.
On a recent fine summer’s evening we relaxed together on the garden bench, listening to the bees droning contentedly in and out of the surrounding flowers. After a while Sara turned to me and said, “you know, I really love this garden now”.
Now that, my friends, is the real transformation.
The courgette season is well and truly upon us, and those of us who grow this prolific vegetable suddenly have to start thinking of imaginative ways to use it in our cooking.
This recipe provides one solution. These burgers are light and zingy and taste amazingly good, especially with the chive aioli.
carrot, courgette and halloumi burgers with chive aioli
275 g courgettes
200g large carrots
225 g halloumi, grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sumac
10 g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
10 g fresh parsley, finely chopped
125 g breadcrumbs
1 tsp sea salt
3 free range organic eggs
30 g rice or corn flour
Ground nut oil, for frying
for the aioli
1 free-range egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1. Grate the courgette then place in a clean tea towel and squeeze tightly to remove drain excess moisture. Do the same with the carrot. Removing the water content will make it easier to mould the burgers. Tip the grated courgette and carrot into a bowl and add the halloumi, sumac, cumin, mint, parsley breadcrumbs, sea salt and eggs.
2. Mix the ingredients together. Dust your hand with a little of the flour then form the mixture into balls each around 80 grams. Dust these lightly with some of the rice flour or cornflour, then mould into a burger shape, place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the fritters to firm up.
3. Now make the aioli. Place the egg yolk in a large bowl and add the mustard. Whisk together whilst gradually adding the olive oil, a little at a time. You should end up with a mixture that has the consistency of mayonnaise. Whisk in the sea salt and lemon juice. Add the chopped chives and stir into the aioli. Set to one side.
4. Pour some oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the fritters. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain briefly on kitchen paper before serving.
5. Serve with a generous helping of the aioli. Serve as it is in a burger bun or with a green salad and sweet potato fries.
What a great combination. I must try this one. I am so hungry now. I can’t tell!
Thank you. It really is an exceptionally tasty combination! 🙂
Thank you Megala 🙂
Oh I like the sound of these!! I think I’ll need to give them a bash when I return from my holiday!
Sorry to hear you had to give up the allotment. For the smaller one you now have in your garden you seem to be growing lots!!
Thank you. I really did miss the allotment at first, and I can’t grow food on anywhere near the same scale in my garden, but it’s lovely to be able to just stroll out through the back door and be in amongst fresh home-grown organic produce!
I very recently left a house on ten acres, four of which were garden. The fruit trees alone included 3 pears,4 apples, 3 quince, 1 mulberry, 3 olives and 4 plums. My wife’s part in all this included, at one stage, 113 roses etc etc etc. Now she has a small suburban garden in Ballarat and I have a very small flat in Melbourne with a window box and my computer. Now I am happy developing a new life at 74, but I can fully appreciate the feeling of having to give up you allotment. Now I can see what a marvelous job you have done with your wifes lawn. I’ll put money on a gradual increase in one section and a decrease in the other. Best of luck.
Hahaha! Well, the good thing is you are happy. As for me, my wife is a lovely but formidable woman. I think “gradual” is definitely the right word! Steve
Putting this on the list for when our courgette season comes around.
Thanks Peggy. Over here the season is in full swing!
You’re confusing me. I thought chick peas came in a can. Nice photos; inspiring.
You can grow chickpeas Mary, and fresh ones are delicious! Steve 🙂
ALWAYS LOVE your recipes!! We call courgettes, Zuccini, in Aus, and yes, are a fabulously reliable vegetable. I also love them raw..thinly sliced and tossed in a little olive oil, salt pepper garlic and lemon juice..beautiful. Glad your backyard herbs n veggies are proving popular!! Nothing quite like growing your own food. regards
Thank you Margaret. I like the sound of your courgettes in lemon and oil. I sometimes do them thinly sliced and chargrilled with lemon, oil, garlic and basil. And you’re right: growing your own food is such a rewarding thing to do, and you can do it even in limited space. Steve 🙂
Delicious, perfect for a summer barbecue with friends, thanks for sharing I think my friends will love them!
Thank you Krešo 🙂
The burger sounds tops. And what a beautiful edible garden transformation alongside an admirable marital compromise.
Thank you Lisa: how beautifully put 🙂
I have garden envy! I love the variety, and how beautifully healthy your plants look. You must truly be the “plant whisperer”. 🙂 Thank you for another fabulous and imaginative recipe. I’m so delighted to have found your blog.
Thank you so much Pam, for your kind comments. I must say I’m finding it much easier to maintain a garden than an allotment. The great thing about seeds is that they are pre-programmed to grow, it’s just a case of helping them along. 🙂
Two requests! 1. Can you please have your webmaster add a photo to the recipe when we choose “print”? I love being able to see the lovely photos of the dish when I go back hunting for something to make. 2. More garden photos!!! Lovely!!
Hi Cindy, and thanks for commenting. I am the webmaster (as well as the recipe developer, cook, stylist, photographer, writer etc..) but I’ll take your suggestion on board, it’s a very good idea, thank you 🙂
Your garden is beautiful! And I will absolutely be giving those burgers a try!
Thank you Heidi 🙂
Sounds like a win-win situation to me. Just quietly though, I’d much rather your tumble of herbs in the garden than high maintenance lawn. Great sounding burgers too
Thanks Sandra. I’m with you as far as the garden is concerned, but as you say, the compromise we’ve reached here gives us both some of what we want 🙂
Yay, this looks amazing all my fav ingredients, well done with downsizing your garden ….but small is very beautiful 🙂 you are a great inspiration!
Thank you Lesley x
A wonderful transformation story The Circus Gardener! And thank you for the inspiration and confirmation: I am on a mission to revive my “dead soil” town garden to look just like yours this time next year! Am busy working with bokashi and effective microorganisms to help me get there 🙂
Thank you Hilda, and good luck with your garden transformation plans:)
Dear all. First full disclosure. I have had the unalloyed pleasure of knowing Steve and Sara as great friends for several years. I am no vegetarian but I have experienced some truly incredible dishes conjured up from the fruits of his labour. Last weekend I had the joy of devouring this burger. I am no food critic suffice to say this left this meat eater wanting more. You definitely do not need meat to enjoy a burger and this proves it. Thank you Steve and Sara from Pat aka the semi -socialist (!)
Cheers Pratul! It was a pleasure to cook for you, as always. Steve
wow, sounds amazing this is going to be on my list to try.
Wow! This looks divine!
I’m a big fan of anything with halloumi in it so your recipe is definitely something I’ll be trying soon! 😋😋😋
I love the sound of this…Do you have a suggestion for a replacement for the halloumi as I’m Vegan x
Thank you! To make this vegan you would also need to have a substitute for the eggs, so I would suggest going with crushed cooked beans or chickpeas, which would help to bind the burgers together, possibly augmented by a little gram flour. Hope this helps! Steve
Thank you, that does 🙂
I have been intending to make these burgers since I first read it. I made them tonight – excellent. Kitchen looks like a bomb’s hit it though….
Thank you Marjory. I’m so pleased you liked them. Sorry about the mess! Steve x