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.
Prep: 50 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Makes: 8 burgers
1 cup red quinoa
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
1. Boil: 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.
2. Roast: Meanwhile, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 pinch salt. Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees until soft and dark around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
3. Brown: 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.
4. Mix: 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).
5. Sizzle: 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.
Provenance: Adapted from “Superiority Burger Cookbook: The Vegetarian Hamburger Is Now Delicious” by Brooks Headley.
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