Setters & Spotters

Our son Russell was a bit of a trend setter at his Montessori School. During the winter months he didn’t want to stop wearing his favorite short-sleeved tee shirts so he simply layered them over turtlenecks or long-sleeved tops. More than one mother came up to me came up on the playground during pick up time to moan about how their kid insisted on dressing just like Russell (which given the winters in New England seemed like a good thing so I was unclear what all the moaning was all about). Then there was a “unicorn horn” phase, which is where he made a ponytail from his bangs and give this tuft of hair the illusion of being more horn-like he gloped on copious amounts of hair gel (there were not too many copy cats for that trend). He really knew how to rock the mix and match look as you can see below, I’m sure you’ll agree the dinosaur tie is an inspired addition. My son’s personal style was unique and a perfect reflection of who he was. Sometimes I wished I was as self-assured as he was when it came to wearing clothes.Russells favorite mix and match outfitMy Mom likes to tell me I too had some trendy moments in my youth, though they were more focused on food. Thinking back it seems totally logical. Julia Child had opened culinary doors in the 1960s so that by the time I was a teenager, busily taking every home ec course offered at my high school, all sorts of foods were starting to appear in restaurants, cookbooks, some of the more upscale grocery stores, and on TV. Looking back I realize I wasn’t a trend setter like Russell, but rather a trend spotter. Which makes complete sense since my hyper focus on food and cooking allowed me to know when something new, exciting or different was happening. One of the advantages of middle age is that, much like a five-year-old, you really don’t have to give two figs for what other people think, which leaves you wide open to follow your own path – starting a trend, finding one to follow, or merrily pursuing your own non-trendy path. Your choice.Cauliflower on cutting board Though I have practically no interest in current food trends, it doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to what they are. In case you were wondering cauliflower is the trendy vegetable of 2017 (bye-bye kale and brussel sprouts). At least according to Bon Appétit and the James Beard Foundation. Perhaps my Mom was right about my being on the cutting edge of cool, because I’ve been loving the white (and occasionally orange or purple or green) cruciferous vegetable for years now.Oven roasted cauliflower, parsnips and carrotsOf late our daughter has been chopping up a whole head of cauliflower (and sometimes adding in a few root vegetables), tossing it all in olive oil, then throwing it into a hot (400ºF) oven to roast. Sublime.

A favorite side dish in our family is Cauliflower Cheese which is nothing more than lightly steamed florets of cauliflower layered up in a baking pan with handfuls of shredded cheese, then topped off with toasted seasoned panko bread crumbs, and baked until the cheese is all melty and oozey and starting to crisp up along the edges. Hard to resist.Italian parsleyA few years ago, before cauliflower turned into the “it” vegetable, Sara Forte of Sprouted Kitchen blog posted a recipe for Quinoa Cauliflower Patties which she had adapted from David Frenkiel’s book Vegetarian Everyday. I, in turn, tweaked it for my family and have been making these Cauliflower Quinoa Burgers ever since.IngredientsingredientsCQB ready to mix togetherWhile Forte’s version calls for feta cheese I subbed in chevré since it’s something I seem to have on hand most of the time. These burgers are so yummy, I recommend using a full head of cauliflower, which essentially doubles the recipe (and does take a bit more time). You won’t regret having more CQBs around since they’re easy to turn into another meal or  a quick snack. My final tweak to the original recipe is to bake the patties rather than fry them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re delicious fried, either in olive oil or ghee. I find when you’re making them en masse baking is easier and less messy than frying.

Cauliflower Quinoa Burgers

1 head of cauliflower broken into florets (5-6 cups)

2 cups quinoa

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal

2-4 large bunches of scallions, chopped

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (1 cup)

2 cups crumbled goat cheese

7-8 eggs

Zest of 2-3 lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for cooking

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a few jelly roll pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Start by cooking the quinoa. First give it a quick rinse under water, then pop the rinsed quinoa into a medium size pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, cooking until all the water has been absorbed – about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked spread it out on the jelly roll pan to cool (though you can leave it in the pot with the lid off if you’d rather).

Next put the oatmeal, scallions, and parsley in a food processor and pulse until well combined. If your food processor is big enough add the cauliflower florets and pulse some more until the mixture resembles small, crumbly grains. If you have a smaller food processor you can do this in stages. Since you are making a huge batch of these burgers pour everything into your largest bowl, adding the goat cheese, cooled quinoa, 7 of the eggs, lemon zest and a hearty sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix well. If the mixture seems to not be holding together add another egg. At this point you can refrigerate the mixture for up to 12 hours.

I confirm that the seasonings are to my taste by taking a small scoop of the mixture and frying up a test CQB in a bit of oil. Correct salt, pepper and lemon zest if necessary, then go into production mode. Sprinkle some olive oil on the parchment paper and also oil your hands before forming the burgers. When you have filled a tray drizzle a little bit more oil on top of the burgers then pop them into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until browned on the edges.

Serve the cauliflower quinoa burgers with a dollop of mango chutney, a squirt of ketchup, or drizzle them with some tahini dressing (I like this one and also this one). Stir fry some greens to serve along side the CQBs or just make a salad and call it dinner.

Makes approximately 24 – 3″ burgers

Cauliflower Quinoa BurgerWant to jump on the cauliflower bandwagon so you too can be cooking en vogue? Try some of these recipes (and note they were all published well before cauliflower rose to its lauded position of vegetable of the year):

Cauliflower Kuku from Splendid Table

Smashed Cauliflower Sandwich on White on Rice Couple

Cauliflower Flat Bread from Elissa Altman

Shaved Cauliflower Salad on Happyolks

Deb Perlman’s Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup



Filed under 50 Recipes

4 responses to “Setters & Spotters

  1. Anna Purves

    I have been roasting cauliflower for years but like the idea of the burgers. Any good way to account for the cheese effect without using cheese (or soy cheese which is pretty gross in my opinion) ?

    • Hi Anna – I’ve been thinking about this and I don’t know what would be a good way to substitute for the cheese. It’s a substantial amount and helps to bind the burgers together. I wonder if some mashed cooked beans would work? Navy, pinto or black, and perhaps an extra egg. If you try it let me know how it turns out.

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