22 May 2020

Cook with the kids from your garden

This half-term, whip up a storm in the kitchen with goodies you can grow at home.

By Meryl Westlake

21 ingredient plant burger

Who doesn’t love a bank holiday barbecue or a weekend feast?

Cooking with plants doesn’t have to be boring.

If you’ve started growing some veggies in your garden or herbs on your windowsill, we can help you and the family pull together something delicious and nutritious.

These and more can be found in the Kew Gardens children's cookbook, even the fussiest eater can’t resist.

Vegetables in a box
Vegetables, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Borlotti bean burgers

It’s the dried seeds of these beautiful beans that we like to eat, and they last a long time.

From April to July, you can sow the seeds indoors and once their first two leaves start to grow you can plant them out and harvest them in late summer.

Serves 4

  • 600g fresh borlotti beans, pricked with a fork
  • 1 baking potato
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 8 sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped up
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (leave them out if you don’t like the heat)
  • Salt and paper
  • A bowl of sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4.
  2. Place the beans in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. Peel the potato and chop into four. Put the potato in a pan of cold, salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes and mash. Add the borlotti beans and mash them both together.
  5. Add the spring onions, coriander, egg, cumin, chilli and season with salt and pepper. Mix it all together.
  6. Using your hands, divide the mixture evenly into four. Flatten and mold it into the shape of a burger (they can feel a bit wet). Roll them in the bowl of sesame seeds to coat and place them onto an oven tray covered with foil.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes until nice and golden.
  8. Serve as you like your burgers, in a bun, with lettuce, tomatoes, and any sauces you like!


A young girl inspects a plate of bean burgers
Borlotti bean burgers ©Ian Garlick

Cavolo nero pesto pasta

In the same family as the cabbage and broccoli, this kale-like green powerhouse is packed with vitamins and fibre.

You can sow these indoors from March to June and get them planted out in May ready to harvest a few months later. 

Serves 4

  • 400g dried pasta
  • 250g cavolo nero
  • 60g basil
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • juice of 1 lemon


1. Bring a pan of water to the boil, and add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions (usually about 8 to 10 minutes).

2. Wash the cavalo nero and strip the leaves from the tough stalks. Set the leaves aside for later.

3. Bring another pan of water to the boil and add the cavolo nero leaves. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Drain the cavolo nero leaves and wait for them to cool. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can.

5. Pick the basil leaves off the stalks and set aside for later.

6. Put the basil leaves and cavolo nero leaves together in a food processor along with pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, olive oil, crème fraiche and lemon juice. Pulse until smooth. This is your pesto.

7. Drain the cooked pasta, (you can reserve a couple of spoons of the water if you want to make your pesto silky smooth). Return it to the pan and add in your pesto, any reserved water and stir to combine it all.

8. Serve whilst hot.

A plate of bright green pesto pasta
Cavolo nero pesto pasta ©Ian Garlick

Easy tomato, feta and basil tart

This light, pizza-like tart will become a family favourite, particularly if you’ve tried to grow the tomatoes yourself.

If you’ve sown your seeds in March and April, they’ll be ready to plant about now and you can harvest them later in the year. Get all the colours you can on your plate: red, yellow and even stripy green.

Serves 4

  • 320g puff pastry

  • 200g tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp feta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A little milk for the end


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6. Remove the puff pastry packaging and leave it to get to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
  2. Carefully cut the tomatoes into slices.
  3. Unroll the pastry onto a baking tray – keep it on the baking paper provided.
  4. Create a rim for the outside of the tart by rolling each edge of pastry in by 1cm.
  5. Prick the middle section of the pastry base with a fork. This will stop the middle rising in the oven.
  6. Using the back of a spoon, spread the mustard over the base of the tart and arrange tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the feta, salt and pepper and basil leaves and drizzle the olive oil over it all.
  7. Using a pastry brush, coat the edges of your tart with a little milk.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot or cold.
A boy with a plate of tomato and feta tart
Tomato and feta tart ©Ian Garlick
Hands hold a bowl of french onion soup

More delicious recipes

Get family cooking with this jam-packed book of recipes and growing tips.