I remember back a few years when I gave up on making veggie burgers. For some strange reason, every single one I ever tried to put together fell apart while cooking. Thinking of those times, I’m left wondering why. Just last night, I said to Laura, “I can’t even remember why those things fell into pieces back then. These veggie burgers do anything but fall apart.”
There’s a trick to making veggie burgers. The trick is called: use 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. If you include these two ingredients with whatever you put into a large bowl, you’ll end up with something that sticks together. Why it took so long to learn this is unbeknownst to me.
The primary ingredient in this recipe is lentils. If you aren’t aware, lentils are very good for you. Take a look at this:
“They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate and iron. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods like lentils can lessen your risk of many serious medical problems.” Source.
Just like my last veggie burger recipe, we’re starting off with a good base. In this one, we’ve got some additional ingredients that really add a lot. They are onion, clove, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg – you get the idea. If you’re a spice lover like I am, you’re getting excited right now.
This recipe is prepared in a few parts. First, the lentils needs to be cooked. In doing so, a tremendous amount of flavor is infused into the legume. After that, the onion needs to be caramelized, again, infusing flavor simultaneously. Finally, the ingredients are mixed together and cooked. These aren’t the fastest or easiest veggie burgers to prepare, but I think the flavor and texture make the effort worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a challenging recipe by any means, it’s just not something to quickly throw in a bowl either.
I’d again like to thank Lukas Volger and his fabulous cookbook called Veggie Burgers Every Which Way for the inspiration for this great recipe. I’m working my way through each one and am thrilled with the quality of these vegetarian meals. Two thumbs up.
Makes: 5 Burgers
For the Lentils
1 Cup Dried Lentils
1 Teaspoon Regular Olive Oil
1/2 Large Sweet Onion, Sliced in half From the Core
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Clove
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
For the Burgers
4 Tablespoons Regular Olive Oil, Divided
1 Large Sweet Onion, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Clove
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Toasted Breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Regular Table Salt
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
For the Topping
5 Good Quality Burger Buns
3 Large Plum Tomatoes, Sliced Lengthwise into 4 Pieces Each
1 Cucumber, Sliced into Pieces 1/4 Inch Thick
1/2 Red Onion, Sliced Thinly
Horseradish/Mayo Sauce Combo
There’s an ingredient out there called Allspice that consists of the ground up dried fruit from the Pimenta dioica tree in Greater Antilles. From what I hear, it tastes out of this world. I’ve never had the opportunity to try this spice because every store I’ve ever been to hasn’t carried it. The reason I mention this is because the original recipe calls for 1 3/4 teaspoons of Allspice. Since I didn’t have any available to me, I adjusted the amounts of some of the other spices and added some nutmeg. If you have Allspice and would like to use it in this recipe, add it to the For the Burgers part of the ingredient list above and simply cut the amounts of those other spices in half.
Cook the Lentils
Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is to temperature, add the onion pieces, clove, ginger, garlic and cinnamon. Cook for 1 minute until things smell great. After that, add the lentils.
Also add 2 cups of water and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. If there is any left after the lentils have become soft, drain it out. You can also remove and discard the onion pieces.
When this part of the recipe is finished, remove the saucepan from heat.
Cook the Onion
In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is to temperature, add the chopped onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cayenne pepper.
Cook the onion, while stirring, for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown. At that point, add the garlic and ginger. Cook for a few more minutes until the onion is fully soft. Don’t overcook because the garlic will be off-taste.
When finished, remove the skillet from heat.
Process Onions & Lentils
Add the onion mixture and 1/2 cup of the cooked lentils to a food processor. Also add the 2 eggs. Process for just a few seconds until all the ingredients are combined.
Pre-heat the Oven
Arrange your oven racks so one is in the center position and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make the Burgers
Add the just-processed lentils and onions to a large bowl. Also add the remaining unprocessed lentils. In addition, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and lemon juice and mix together. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs until the mixture firms up and doesn’t stick to your hands. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl together well.
Then, shape the mixture into 5 (or so) patties.
Cook the Burgers
In another (or the same, if clean enough) skillet, add the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil and warm the pan over medium heat. Then, place the burger patties into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. The goal here is to get some browning on both sides.
After this, add the entire pan to the oven and cook for another 12 minutes. This part is to make sure the patties are cooked all the way through.
When finished, remove the skillet from the oven and turn the oven off.
The Final Burgers
Now that everything has been prepared, go ahead and put the burgers together. Place a burger patty on the bottom of the bun, add some horseradish mayo and then the sliced onion. After that, add the tomato and the cucumber and finally the top of the bun. Perfect.
If you’re interested in looking at some more vegetarian lentil burgers, please take a look at these posts:
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