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Craving a burger this Labor Day weekend but don’t have a grill? This smoky eggplant beef burger recipe is made indoors and is simply perfect.

We’ve all been there: We’re rifling through the fridge for something to make for dinner, only to find the same old things we normally purchase from the grocery store—but lack any new recipes to whip all those ingredients into. So we end up making the same thing, over and over, sadly picking away at mediocre spaghetti.

But that certainly doesn’t have to be the case anymore, thanks to Charlotte Druckman’s cookbook “Kitchen Remix.” The food journalist has made it easy to get creative in the kitchen by showcasing how pairing just three ingredients together can result in a plethora of recipes—so you’ll never tire of the same thing. For instance, chicken breasts, mozzarella, and arugula can be transformed into a cheesy, herby chicken salad; chicken paillard flanked by an arugula salad and marinated mozzarella; and potato-chip crusted chicken, smothered with melted mozzarella and arugula pesto. 

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She offers a slew of combinations—from shrimp, tomatoes, and almonds to bread, chocolate, and olive oil—showcasing how easy it is to shake things up in the kitchen. And with grocery store trips few and far between these days, it further proves how essential it is to keep a steady stream of staples on hand, primed and ready to be transformed into an innumerable amount of dishes.

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Ahead, Charlotte shares a recipe for eggplant beef burgers, using the foundational ingredients of ground beef, eggplant, and parsnip (the other two dishes you can make with these items are a riff on shepherd’s pie and moussaka, and bobotie (a South African minced meat pie) shot through with parsnips. For the eggplant beef burgers, the eggplant is charred on a burner—to mirror the smokiness of outdoor grilling—blitzed in the food processor, and swirled with ground beef. The burgers are crisped up in a cast iron skillet, crowned with parsnip relish, and bookended between two soft buns.

Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Remix by Charlotte Druckman, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Eggplant Beef Burgers with Parsnip Relish Recipe

Sadly, for many home cooks, outdoor grilling and the charred burgers it enables are an impossible dream. But I had a thought: could you simulate that smoky, blackened experience with scorch- skinned eggplant? Anyone who has prepared baba ghanoush, the Levantine dip made from that vegetable, knows how to singe its purple skin over a burner (or under a broiler). I took my flame- darkened aubergine and mixed it into my ground beef. Then I buried cooling, salty feta in each patty. Derived from spicy Southeast Asian sambals, parsnip relish is an upgrade from ketchup; it can jazz up any burger, hot dog, or deli sandwich, and accompany meat or fish that has been grilled—or pan-seared or roasted. Because who needs a grill anyway?

Eggplant Beef Burgers with Relish

Makes: 4
Ingredients
  • Parsnip relish: 3 medium parsnips (1 pound), peeled and grated
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1½ teaspoons dried red chili flakes
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving
  • Burgers: 1 small eggplant (9 to 10 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, cut into 12 cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted (I like Martin’s)
Instructions
  1. Make the relish. In a large heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, combine the parsnips, shallots, garlic, sea salt, sugar, ½ cup water, the oregano, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stir- ring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and continue to cook until the parsnips are trans- lucent and a bit spicy, about 30 minutes more; overall the rel- ish should look like sauerkraut. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl to cool completely. Sealed in an airtight container, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Before serving, stir in as much parsley as you like.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make the burgers. Prick the egg- plant all over with a fork and place it directly over the burner’s flame on medium heat. Char the outside of the eggplant, using tongs to turn it until the entire surface is blackened evenly, about 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can do this in the oven, under the broiler, on a baking sheet.) Transfer it to a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the flesh is mushy soft, 20 to 30 min- utes. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, trim it, remove and discard the skin, and place the flesh in a food processor. Add the olive oil, smoked paprika, and kosher salt, and process into a smooth puree. Let cool to room temperature and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add the ground beef to the puree and stir just to incorporate. Di- vide the mixture into 8 small piles about 3 inches wide. Top one of the piles with 3 cubes of feta, then place another pile on top of it, gently pressing to form a thick patty and completely en- close the feta. Repeat to form 4 patties. Season on both sides with kosher salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet on the stove, gradually increasing the heat from low to medium. Add the butter. When the butter is melted and sizzling, increase the heat to high and add the pat- ties. Cook without moving them until a crust forms on the bot- toms, about 5 minutes. Flip the burgers over and cook to your liking, about 4 minutes more for medium-rare. Remove them from the skillet and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Place the burgers on the toasted buns and top each with some of the parsnip relish.

Header image by Aubrie Pick.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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