Welcome back to Aubergine Land

Some interesting things have been occurring lately in Aubergine Land.

Just last week, while walking back to work from a library lunch -- no, I did not eat the books, though I may have nibbled on some of their covers -- I so fantastically caught one of my heels in a subway grate as I caught a glimpse of this glorious book in a storefront window.  I recently discovered that a burger joint around the corner from me has been offering a gluten-free bun option on all of their burgers for some time now -- for a whopping $.75 extra. Apparently I am finished eating sausages with mustard at midnight, leaning over the counter like the uncivilized eater I am.

 On Saturday, while picking up things to can and freeze at the St. Lawrence Market (North), the owner of Acropolis came up to me. "Do a shot of olive oil with me!" he exclaimed. It's 9:30am, I thought to myself. But then again, how often do Greek men approach me asking me to do shots with them? And who would I be if I were to refuse? I'd barely recognize myself. So as I stood there in the middle of the market, weighed down with fresh local fare, I did a shot of extra-virgin olive oil with my left leg up, muttering 'Opa!', as, according to the man, it makes the oil taste more delicious. The thing is, it was. Grown in a bio region on the island of Crete, it's brought over in oak barrels and bottled in Canada. Light and grassy, I imagined it would add the perfect finish to a serving of asparagus risotto. We followed this with a shot of honey balsamic, which was terrifically sweet and syrupy, and a couple varieties of black olives. 

And most interesting, at least to me, is these veggie burgers. Now I'll be the first to admit I do not care one bit for the words "veggie" or "burgers." Too cheerful? Cheesy? I'm not sure what it is. But when I spotted this new release, I gave in. Most of the recipes that appear in the book are not gluten-free and, according to the author, not easily adapted, but a few are and they are worth trying out. This is the first and only recipe I sampled from the book and am therefore ill-equipped to provide a thorough review, but I'm impressed with the flavours and how easy so many of the recipes are to pull together. This one is no different. From beginning to end, this recipe takes a maximum of twenty minutes -- and that's stretching it.  What I loved? It's nutritious, healthy and comes together quickly. It's delicious and economical. What I didn't love? The instructions provided insufficient detail as to what the finished batter should look like, and some of it didn't make sense. I've revised the recipe here in hopes of making it easier for you so that you, too, can enjoy them. Now, these will not form easily into patties. My ingredients bound together, but they were too moist. Instead, I spooned batter into a hot cast iron pan and flipped them once the first side was cooked through. Once heated through, these burgers stay together well, though, and freeze easily.

Chickpea Spinach Burgers
Adapted from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger
Yields 5-6 burgers

1.5 chickpeas
5oz fresh baby spinach
2 eggs
2 - 3 tbsp lemon juice, or as needed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour

Combine 1.25 cups chickpeas, spinach, eggs, lemon juice, cumin, and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles a chunky hummus. Add to a large bowl and set aside. In the bowl of the food processor, add the remaining chickpeas and process until just crumbly. Add to the other mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle in chickpea flour until the burger mixture thickens. You may not be able to make patties with this mix exactly, but the flour will bind the burger together nicely once cooked. I take 1/3 cups of the mixture and plop it into a cast iron skillet over medium-high. 3-4 minutes on each side yields a burger that is crispy on the outside but deliciously moist on the inside. Serve with your favourite condiments on a bun, or on a bed of butter lettuce (my preferred way.)


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