Small spaces fit big ideas. Consider the middle-school locker. Though merely 1.5 cubic feet, it offers its tenant an address, a front door, a home. She decorates, taping up selfie, groupie, fan photo: me, my squad, my dreams.
She repeats this exercise in camp bunk, dorm room and short-term sublet, its shelves full of empties, kitchen a communal clutter, bedroom the size of bed. She tacks up mirror, map and pushpins: Me, on my way.
She stops in the big city, where a big-name chef has compressed his talents into a tiny, tasty takeout. Small space. Big ideas. One bite, and she feels right at home.
Preparation: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes
- 1 cup red quinoa
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup small-diced carrots
- 4 to 6 tablespoons mild oil, such as canola
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground toasted fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 cup drained and rinsed cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup coarse breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, crushed (a molcajete is useful)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon hot chile sauce
- 2 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
- 8 toasted hamburger buns
- Shredded lettuce, sliced pickles and other burger fixins
In a small saucepan, stir together quinoa, 1-1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook fluffy, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn out into a large mixing bowl. Let cool.
Meanwhile, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 pinch salt. Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees F until soft and dark around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Tumble in onion, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the fennel and chile powder. Stir in chickpeas, and cook until very soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Deglaze with the vinegar.
Roughly mash chickpea mix with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Stir into cooled quinoa. Stir in carrots, breadcrumbs, walnuts, lemon juice, parsley and chile sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Whisk potato starch or cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Stir in this slurry (or knead in by hand).
Shape 8 patties. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a cast-iron skillet. Brown burgers, about 3 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Serve on buns with fixins.
Makes 8 burgers.
Recipe adapted from: “Superiority Burger Cookbook: The Vegetarian Hamburger Is Now Delicious” by Brooks Headley
Home on the Range is a Tribune News Service column by Leah Eskin, which offers “delicious essays and insightful recipes.”