Quinoa Spinach Burgers with Radicchio Tahini Slaw / by Alexa Arnold

A couple of years ago, not too long after G and I first met, I learned to cook. We were poor college students, and after exhausting all of the entertainment options that the tiny town in North Carolina, where we spent our first summer together, had to offer, we turned to the kitchen. It started innocently: G suggested we take turns cooking each night. He'd been gifted a new set of cookware from his parents when he moved away for graduate school that he was eager to use. Our culinary strategy was simple, and one that required little skill or knowledge outside of knowing what we liked: throw any assortment of vegetables into a pan or a pot, add some seasoning, and cook. We kept this up for a few days; the two of us standing over the stove, evaluating whether or not we should add an extra tablespoon of red chili flakes to reach the level of heat we desired. Or in the case of G's first attempt at making homemade chili with the fresh tomatoes and peppers we picked up at the market, whether or not he should mix in a whole bag of oyster crackers (spoiler: he went for it; huge mistake). As projects I'm excited about tend to go, I approached learning to cook with equal parts excitement and ambition, that quickly turned into borderline obsession. And then almost without meaning to, I completely took over. 

Sometime after I'd started cooking nearly every night, I got on a veggie burger kick. Red beans with chickpeas; black beans with tiny chopped peppers; quinoa with oats and cheese. I fell in love with coming up with new combinations as the seasons changed. Over that summer, we must have eaten every single combination of beans and grains and vegetables, mixed together, grilled, and stacked between two buns. 

Until this spring, it's been years since I've made veggie burgers, though over the last few months, I've been making this slaw and these patties – separately, together, always in bulk. I always forget that spring doesn't come until late April in New York, yet by February I'm already craving greens and herbs and lighter lunches. Thus began my search for the perfect surge of greens, yet still something warm, comforting and filling enough to get me through the last of the cold days. The slaw on its own is tangy and nutty, but not too sweet, and the burgers are hearty enough to enjoy sans-bun, which is how I've mostly been eating them. 

Quinoa Spinach Burgers with Radicchio Tahini Slaw

Makes 10 burgers.
Recipe inspired by Green Kitchen Stories' patties and Faring Well's slaw.

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
> 2 cups cooked quinoa
> 3/4 cup rolled oats
> 4 cups spinach, chopped
> 1 cup parsley, chopped
> 1/2 cup feta
> 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
> 3 cloves garlic, minced
> Pinch each salt and pepper
> 3 eggs
> Coconut oil for frying
> Burger buns (I used these whole wheat buns, but feel free to substitute!)
For the slaw:
> 2 heads radicchio
> 3 tablespoons tahini
> Juice of 1 lemon
> 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
> 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
> 1 clove garlic, minced
> Pinch each salt and pepper

Preparation:
1. In a heavy bottomed skillet, sauté onion and garlic in coconut oil until soft and translucent in color. While it cooks, finely shop the spinach and parsley.
2. Add quinoa, oats, spinach, parsley, feta, onion, garlic, eggs, salt, pepper to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine completely. Set aside in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the slaw. Using a mandolin, finely slide radicchio and place in a large mixing bowl. Combine tahini, lemon, mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small jar and shake until emulsified. Pour the vinaigrette over the radicchio and mix until combined. 
4. Once the burger mixture has set, form 10 small patties with your hands. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Add each patty to the skillet, flatten them a bit, and fry on both sides for 2-4 minutes each, or until crispy. 
5. To serve, place each patty on a toasted burger bun and top with a hearty pile of slaw. Add a smear of mustard, if you like.