This quinoa-based vegetarian burger is adapted from the just-released cookbook by Brooks Headley, "Superiority Burger Cookbook," named for the chef's Manhattan restaurant. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

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.

Superiority Burger

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.”

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