February 27, 2012

Spinach burgers

There have been so many variations on the spinach veggie burgers that I never consult the recipe anymore. The original recipe called for so much oil that I tweaked it many times to get a healthier version. I had two leeks sitting on top of the fridge, and the remnants of a several days old baguette which helped me incorporate the two in the dish.

First wash and drain the spinach several times (a baby or young spinach is ideal). I use a huge bowl and place half the spinach in it. I fill the bowl with cold water and gradually shake the spinach with my hands to loosen the grit or any dirt. I drain twice. Filling up a watering can is a good option to reuse the water e.g. houseplants or garden. 

While the spinach is cooking make some homemade breadcrumbs. Remember that big bowl? Give it a good rinse and dry it thoroughly. Get out a box grater and grate the baguette stump over it. You can use the wide holes or the super pointy scratchy ones.

Wash the leeks well. Cut them into 4" segments, cut them again lengthwise and fan the layers through water ensuring that you wash the grit out. Save the rest (prepped) as you can quickly make leeks in white wine with provencal herbs.

Spinach leek feta (veggie) burgers with Za'atar and homemade breadcrumbs
Adapted from Kate's Mainly Veggie Blog Greek spinach veggie burgers
Yield: 4 servings; 8 patties, 2 per person

1 large bag young spinach
olive oil, enough for pan frying, and about 2 tbsp for the burger "batter"
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup of chopped leeks (white part only)
1/2 cup or less feta cheese, crumbled
1-1/2 cup breadcrumbs (see homemade breadcrumbs post below)
1-2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp of red chili flakes (more or less to taste)
1-2 tbsp of prepared Za'atar (or use the recipe here)
1 tsp salt
1 egg, mixed roughly

Take the washed spinach and place it a large pot (like the kind to boil pasta). Heat it up over medium-low heat and turn it several times until it wilts down. It will reduce in volume almost 4 x the amount. Once it is done, turn the heat off and remove to a plate (along with it's juices). Meanwhile, heat up a the large pot and make sure the water bakes off. Once hot, add in 1 tbsp of olive oil, add the leeks and saute 5 minutes. Once fragrant stir in garlic and spinach (along with it's juices). Let the water cook off and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, to the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, add in 1-2 tbsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp or less of red chili flakes, 2 tbsp of za'atar, 1 tsp salt and stir everything together. Stop. Smell it, does it need anything else?  Honestly it smells like pepperoni. Don't ask me why.

To the breadcrumbs add some crumbled feta cheese, the spinach and leek mixture (make sure it's cool enough to handle) and stir to combine. I use my hands. When it's warm enough for your hands add in the egg and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and combine everything until it becomes a wet mixture. It will hold up well enough to shape and place in a cast iron pan.

Heat up a cast iron pan over medium heat. To the pan pour in 1-2 tbsp of oil. Shape patties with your hand and place in the pan, cooking 5-6 minutes per side.  The patties are done when golden on each side. I suggest serving 2 patties with quinoa cooked in vegetable broth and leeks simmered in white wine.

Homemade bread crumbs
Shredding a stump of a dried out days-old baguette over a box grater is a fabulous, cheap, and resourceful way to obtain bread crumbs. If you buy bread everyday (such as is widely done in Europe) you'll know what I'm talking about with a day (or two) old very dry baguette.

Use at least a 5-7" stump of a dried out baguette to yield 1-1/2 cups bread crumbs. Shredding it over the wider holes gives the breadcrumbs a panko-like texture (hello awesome), and using those horrid spikes on the back gives you fine breadcrumbs and a decent arm workout. Season with a bit of salt or herbs. If not using that same day, store in a airtight container in the freezer.

Using a food processor would work as well. Someone comment below if you use a food processor to make breadcrumbs. You've never made breadcrumbs. Sheesh. Get to work. 


  1. Always good to have a new veggie burger recipe!


    1. Jai! Let me know if you make this eggless. I want to try it out. I'll be posting a tex-mex veg burger that I tested a few times this month too. I love these, and Karl experimented with homemade falafel.