By Freya Bellin
As someone with a lot of experience eating frozen veggie burgers, I can promise that making burgers from scratch is infinitely more delicious. These patties are meant to be appetizer-sized finger foods, but I made a couple monstrous ones to serve on rolls as veggie burgers instead. Or you could still make mini patties and serve them as sliders. Either way, these are great. You must be patient cooking them, and allow each side to really crisp up. This will help them stay together better when flipped, plus the crunchy outside is a nice texture contrast. Amazingly, the starch from the bulgur thickens up the mixture and acts as a paste to hold the ingredients together: no cheese or starch needed.
Skordalia, the dip that accompanies the patties, may be my new favorite condiment. It is a perfect complement to these burgers, but is also quite versatile, almost like hummus. It has a really unique flavor: super garlicky, nutty, and a little spicy. It would work great for crudités, pita, pretzels, or pretty much anything that can be dipped. Try it—you’ll be hooked. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Spinach-Bulgur Patties with Skordalia
Makes: 4 to 8 servings
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Skordalia is a thick, garlicky dip with the creaminess of mayonnaise but no eggs. Make it from almonds or any other nut, and it’s a wonderful accompaniment for these tender but robustly flavored Spinach-Bulgur Patties, which combine several traditional Mediterranean ingredients into one delicious dish. For the patties, try any sturdy green—kale, chard, or collards.
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying the patties
1 tablespoon minced garlic
About 8 ounces (1 pound before trimming) spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup bulgur
4 to 4 1⁄2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
Salt and black pepper
1 thick slice day-old bread, preferably whole wheat
1 cup whole, skin-on almonds (not raw)
3 garlic cloves, or to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne or 1 teaspoon not-too-hot ground dried chile, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
1. Put 3 tablespoons of the oil in a pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the minced garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the bulgur, 2 1⁄2 cups of the stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook until the grain is starchy and thick like porridge, 45 to 60 minutes. Add another 1⁄2 cup stock if the grain becomes too dry. Let the bulgur-spinach mixture cool to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, make the skordalia. Put the bread in a food processor and saturate it with some of the remaining stock. Wait a couple minutes, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the almonds, 3 garlic cloves, and cayenne. Process the mixture until the almonds are ground. With the machine running, pour in enough of the remaining stock to form a creamy sauce. Add the lemon juice and some salt and pepper and pulse one last time.
3. When the bulgur-spinach mixture is cool, put a thin film of oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Form the bulgur mixture into 1-inch balls and flatten the balls into patties. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, fry the patties until crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Drain the patties on paper towels and serve warm or at room temperature with the skordalia.