My latest recipe for Spicy Cauliflower-Red Lentil Burgers is up on Food52. Here is a little sneak peek…

The Veggie Burger That Turns into 3 Different Meals

Making weeknight dinners on a tight schedule is my thing (see: my book), and I never stop searching for simple, adaptable, satisfying zingers that lift me up at the end of the day. My favorite recipes are both familiar and surprising, highly adaptable, and have pieces that can be made ahead of time, leaving us with slightly re-jiggered leftovers for tomorrow’s lunchboxes and dinner.

These vegetable burgers fulfill all of my weeknight dinner criteria. To prove it to you, I’ve outlined ways you can adapt this recipe to satisfy your tastes (or what you have in the cabinet), ways to prepare pieces of it beforehand (nothing better than getting a head start), and ideas of how to transform leftover burgers into a second (and equally exciting) meal.

Click here for the full story and recipe. All photographs by Elizabeth Cecil.






I just opened our family calendar, glanced at the next two weeks, and let out a low, painful howl. This end of the school year stuff is no joke – concerts, water days, celebrations! It’s all good stuff but makes for a lot of busy afternoons and late nights. Dylan is playing the part of a 3-headed marker eating monster in his school musical and Gray will have his first violin performance next week. I will undoubtedly cry and both – it would be shocking if I didn’t.

In an attempt to plan some meals for these crazy spring days, I spent some time with my friend and fellow island gal Susie Middleton’s new book Simple Green Suppers a few weeks ago and folded down a handful of tempting weeknight dinner ideas. Last night I finally got around to cooking from it and started here with Cauliflower, Chickpea & Spinach Curry. The simple and satisfying dinner made our whole house smell amazing and was the best lunch today. I served it with a pot of rice but I’d like to try it with garlic naan bread next time.



Indian Curry with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Spinach, Tomatoes & Coconut Milk from Simple Green Suppers

3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups cauliflower florets (1-to 1 1/2-inch pieces, cut so that most have a flat side)

1 cup sliced yellow onion (about 1 medium-large onion, cut lengthwise)

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic paste (I left this out due to kids’ heat tolerance)

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar (I omitted)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3 cups packed baby spinach

1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro



1. In a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are golden and browned in spots, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chickpeas to a plate.

2. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir, cover, and cook, uncovering to stir occasionally, until the cauliflower pieces are browned in spots (they will be softened but still crisp), about 5 minutes. (If the cauliflower is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. If your pan does not have a lid, use a baking sheet or the bottom of a large skillet). Transfer the cauliflower to the plate with the chickpeas.

3. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are browned in spots but haven’t lost all their stiffness, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chili-garlic paste, curry powder, brown sugar, and cumin. Stir well to combine, and fry the spices for 30 seconds. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and coconut milk and stir well to incorporate the spices with the liquids and to soften the spinach. Add the cooked cauliflower and chickpeas and simmer, stirring, for 1 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and remove the pan from the heat. Serve hot or very warm in two or three bowls.


Twice today I hung up my phone with a huge smile on my face. For some lucky reason I was able to fit in not one but two quick calls with my girl friends. Nothing we talked about was life changing – just simple everyday stuff but it made me realize how grateful I am for my friends and how I wish I could invite them all over tonight to enjoy a big pot of cauliflower, potato, and pea curry.
Between weekend phone chats we played storm chasers – looking up into the big spring sky and driving away from the dark rain clouds. We ended up at the little Chappy Ferry and took a spontaneous ride across. Everyone ended the adventure happy and dry.
Cauliflower, Potato & Pea Curry
serves 4-6
The only hot spice (verses flavorful spice) in this curry comes from the red pepper flakes so if you are serving this to kids with heat sensitivities just cut down on it.
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup frozen petite peas
First, in a large deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and red-pepper flakes and stir. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
Next, add the tomatoes, coconut milk, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, the water, and the salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the peas and the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and cook, covered, until the peas are tender, about 2 minutes longer.


This was a totally selfish recipe decision. I knew nobody else in the house would eat it because Nick gags over raw fennel and Dylan just isn’t into tabbouleh or any foods that look like salads. My lunch time is a precious time of day. Either Dylan and I eat together before his nap and we chat, read books, get ready to cozy down, or I eat alone in a quiet house while he sleeps. Both are special but rushed in their own way.
This Winter Tabbouleh is a lunch that doesn’t require cooking or reheating, just a big spoon and plate. I happen to love raw fennel, endive, and cauliflower and find it challenging to eat raw vegetables in the winter but this is a good solution. Now I just have to finish this massive bowl by the end of the week…

Winter Tabbouleh
serves 4 to 6

The key to this tabbouleh is chopping all the vegetables very small and uniform size. Everything should be 1/2″ or smaller.

For Salad:

1 1/4 cups bulgur
1 endive, cored and chopped
1 medium/small fennel bulb, stalks removed, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups tiny cauliflower florets
big handful parsley, chopped
small handful mint, chopped
big handful pecans, chopped
small handful raisins (if hard let soak in water then drain)
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper


For Dressing:

1 garlic clove, grated on microplane
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon water
juice of 1 lemon plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
pinch salt
fresh black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Prepare Salad:
Cover bulgur with warm water by 2 inches in a bowl and soak for 10 minutes. Drain well then transfer to a large bowl and stir in endive, fennel, cauliflower, parsley, mint, pecans, raisins, salt, and pepper.

Make Dressing:
Stir together garlic, cinnamon, honey, water, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking well.

Finish Salad:
Toss tabbouleh with dressing and serve with extra lemon wedges. It can sit in the fridge, dressed, for a few hours or just toss with the dressing when you’re ready to eat.


Do you love where you live? If so tell me why. I’m in a funk because I love where we live but our little city is cursed with some fatal flaws (which rhyme with schools and jobs).  So how did you decide on where to call home? I’d love to know.

I’ve been making these burgers twice a month for five years. And I’m just sharing them now? Yup. A very similar version was posted way back when so I was worried they’d be too repetitive but I’ve realized if we eat them so much you should be too.

Dylan loves these. He smashes handfuls of the crumbled burger into his mouth then whisper-grunts “mmmooorre…”. I doubt many kids can resist a sesame seeded bun and squirt of ketchup.


Best Quinoa-Black Bean Burgers
This recipe is included in Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work