Leek, feta and bulgur wheat patties

So, who’s still on the bandwagon? I’m doing pretty well with my healthy eating – at least I haven’t caved in and eaten an entire pizza yet. There’s even a tub of ice cream in my freezer that has remained entirely untouched (although now that I’ve just remembered it’s there I might have to go and stare at it for a while before putting it away again).

I’ve not been depriving myself entirely of anything that’s not a lettuce leaf – that’s a surefire way for me to fail. Instead, I’ve been finding healthy ways to get my favourite less-healthy ingredients (i.e. cheese) into meals. Here’s a great light lunch recipe that will make you feel like you’re being naughty without actually having to be. These patties are baked, not fried, and they contain enough of the healthy stuff to justify a little of the cheesy stuff.

I’ve started water sautéing my vegetables (especially things that release their own moisture, like mushrooms) – just use about a tablespoon of water instead of oil when sautéing your veg. It works just the same, but you save at least 100 calories, and I honestly can’t taste the difference. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. If you use this method when making these patties, they should come in at less than 100 calories each, so you can easily justify having them alongside a pitta bread and some salad like I did for lunch, or with something a bit more substantial for dinner (no, not a pizza).

(as you can see, I haven’t quite made the transition to wholemeal pittas yet. They taste like cardboard)

I crumbled my feta coarsely so that there were nice chunks of it through the patties – if I’m going to splash out on some nice cheese, I definitely want to be able to notice it. The oniony flavour on the leeks really comes through when it is roasted, especially on those crispy bits around the side.

The middles of these patties are satisfyingly solid, but they’re still healthy and entirely guilt-free. These are going on my ‘make again’ list.

(Every time I write the word ‘patties’, it sounds more and more ridiculous. Perhaps I should have gone with ‘burgers’?)

Leek, feta and bulgur wheat patties

Makes ~8 patties (serves 4)

2 leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
100g bulgur wheat
225ml hot vegetable stock
100g feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1/2tsp dried oregano
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5tbsp plain flour

Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).

Halve the leeks lengthwise, and wash thoroughly between the outer layers, especially near the green end. Slice thinly.

Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, and add the hot stock. Mix well, and then cover with a plate and leave for 5-10 minutes for the water to absorb. If the bulgur still tastes a little hard after this time, add a little hot water and leave to absorb again.

While the bulgur is soaking, sauté the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes over a medium heat, using about a tablespoon of water to stop them sticking (or oil if you’d prefer). Once the leeks are soft, set them aside to cool.

When the bulgur and leeks have both cooled slightly, add the leeks to the bowl and combine with the feta, oregano, eggs and flour. Mix well. The mixture won’t hold together like some veggie burger recipes, but that’s ok – it’ll firm up a lot when baked.

Lightly grease a baking tray. Using a baking ring (or freeform if you don’t have one), form patty shapes out of the leek mixture. Leave a few centimetres between each patty to give them room to spread out slightly. My mixture made 8 fairly large patties, but you could do smaller ones if you prefer (they may take less time to bake).

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the outsides are crispy and browned. Leave for a couple of minutes to cool before serving.

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