It’s a tricky business, naming things.
I had a whole list of ideas for this feature’s title, most of which were problematic. “Noshes”? Too hipster. “The Bowl” or “The Plate”? Meh. “The Chew”? Already taken. “Round the Cauldron”, with a nod to Shakespeare? Maybe not, considering the ingredients in that particular cauldron. “Much Depends on Dinner”, stealing from Herrick? Too obscure. “Oven Lovin'”? Too emotional. “Counter Action”? A little violent, but different. We’ll go with it.
These burgers are from a bygone era. It was a prairie summer. I was twenty-two, heading into my last year of university, and living in an uncooled attic. In the mornings, I worked at the college library, shelving books, moving books, and throwing books away. My coworkers and I bonded over the ninety-degree weather and the long, deep, stinging cuts left on our hands and fingers from breaking down cardboard boxes. My roommate introduced me to Doctor Who, and inspired by the amount of running the characters did, we began running together in the mornings, before the thermometer inched too high and the cicadas grew too loud.
One weekend, my boyfriend’s parents invited me on a trip to visit their son, who was taking classes six hours away. The parents and I didn’t know each other very well. It was the tiniest bit awkward.
But by the end of the trip, I felt more connected to the family. The mom apparently felt the same way, because before I left their house to drive home, she loaded me up with a box of food: sushi, spinach–chive pasta, fresh berries from a roadside stand, and the creamiest blue cheese I’d ever tasted — part of which I turned into these burgers.
I’m done with university now, living in a much cooler climate with a different roommate, and the boyfriend has long since taken a different path. But some recipes are just too good to be linked with memories forever — they deserve lives of their own. These burgers are that kind of recipe. Would they work for a Memorial Day cookout, served on toasted buns with a roasted garlic aïoli and sliced red onions? Or perhaps caramelized onions? I’m betting so.
Potato–spinach–blue cheese burgers
(adapted from the turnover recipe in Time-Life Books’ Vegetables: Great Taste, Low Fat)
- 4 red potatoes
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
- 4 oz. blue cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 c. breadcrumbs, plus more for breading
- olive oil for frying
- Boil, drain, and mash potatoes.
- Combine potatoes with green onions, garlic, spinach, blue cheese, eggs, and seasonings. Mix well.
- Form mixture into patties.
- Coat patties thoroughly in breadcrumbs.
- Fry patties in olive oil until golden brown. Remove from heat and let rest on paper towels before serving.