Chickpea & Spinach Burgers; Asparagus SaladThere’s a Burger Rule in my house, dictated by my audience and established by me. It goes like this: a “burger” (quote, unquote) must be meat, and a meat burger must be served on a bun. I’ve easily sidestepped this semantics issue by serving a non-meat burger without a bun, and not calling it a “burger” after all. The term, in my castle, is “patty.”

With this rule firmly established, I knew we could all enjoy the “Chickpea and Spinach Burgers,” from Naturally Ella, if I placed these patties -- bun-less -- atop a salad. Brilliant!

I tripled the amounts in this recipe, so I could make six patties. Everything was easily mixed in the food processor: producing a thick, green, wet mix. I pan-fried three patties at a time. They were well-seasoned and enjoyable at room temperature, when I placed them on top of the “Asparagus Salad with Turmeric Tahini Dressing,” from the same aforementioned blog.

Indeed, I tweaked this recipe. I was intentionally heavy-handed with the asparagus and scallions and olive oil. I wanted to roast a lot more than the recipe asked for, and the generous amount was delicious. This roasting step is the building block for any great salad. I also doubled the dressing, knowing I would drizzle it atop my patties too (which replaced the recipe’s hard-boiled eggs). The dressing was nice and lemony tart, colored orange by the turmeric.

Another switch: I swapped out the kamut (ancient Persian grain) for rye berries (protein-rich, Northern European grain), merely in the interest of using up a pantry item. I did soak the rye overnight, then cooked for a long two-and-a-half hours(!). But it was easy to do this in the background, while I prepped and fussed with the other components of this meal. After all that, the hearty bite of rye reminded me of farro. And the grain in my ultimate salad was certainly interchangeable: it played a minor role in the overall recipe.

Treat yourself with this salad.

PRICES:
Canned Chickpeas (15 oz.) = $1.86
Baby Spinach (.38 lb. for burgers) = $1.79
Asparagus (1.01 lbs.) = $1.84
Scallions (1 bunch) = .78¢
Baby Spinach (.52 lb. for salad) = $2.45

PREP TIMES: soak your grain overnight if you need to, cook grain for hours if you need to; pull together burgers and salad in less than 90 minutes
TASTES: red onion, sunflower seeds, oregano, and smoked paprika flavor the patties; a lemony dressing enhances the sweet roasted asparagus and scallions, with spinach and feta cheese, no less

OK. It’s cookie time. But is this possible without eggs and without butter? Let’s try the “Almond Shortbread Cookies,” from the March 2016 issue of Food & Wine, to prove some points. Come back to my site next week, to see what happens.