Can we talk about the importance of a good burger? When the mood strikes, it’s impossible to shake, right?
My favorite burgers involve a whole heap of stuff. I like condiments and lots of little accessories on all the things I eat, but especially on burgers.
I love caramelized onion, melted cheddar, bbq sauce, tomato, and lettuce for crunch. But lets be real, with all of that stuff, sometimes it doesn’t really matter whether the burger underneath it all is beef or chicken or legume – especially if the meat version isn’t up to scratch, I’ll take a veggie burger in a heartbeat.
Despite my love of a perfect beef burger and obsession with toppings, I think a good-quality veggie burger can be just as badass as a meat one, albeit in a slightly more hippie kind of way.
The key to an excellent vegetarian-friendly burger begins with packing lots of flavor into the pattie. (See also various add-ons above.)
My flavor base of choice is mushroom. I add onions, garlic and herbs to really get things going. Textural elements like sunflower seeds and mashed lentils bring the whole thing together while packing it with protein. Sandwiched between a fresh, warm bun, and topped with desired add-ons, you’re in veggie burger business.
These freeze and heat back up wonderfully. So if you’re looking to keep bbqs light, or just want an easy lunch you can grab quickly, these are great to have around.
Mushroom Lentil Burgers
Makes 8 small burgers
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 ½ cups mushrooms, cut into small pieces, about ½ inch (I used Swiss brown mushrooms, but Portobello would work well too.)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 can (or 1 ½ cups) cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- ½ cup steel-cut oats
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pan heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. About 6-8 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.
Pour another glug of olive oil to the same large pan, over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms, smoked paprika, chili powder and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and soft. (If the pan gets a little too dry, add a tablespoon of water to keep the mushrooms from sticking. You can do this a couple of times if you need to, just don’t add too much.)
While the mushrooms are cooking, place the lentils and tahini in the bowl with the onions, mix together with a fork, slightly mashing the lentils until they form a rough paste.
Once the mushrooms are done, add them to the bowl with the lentils, along with the oats, sunflower seeds, egg and the parsley and stir to combine it all together. Season with salt and pepper.
Put your mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps the oats absorb any extra liquid and will keep the burgers together.
To make patties, take a heaping spoonful or two of the mixture in the palm of your hand, then shape into a disc. I made mine about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
Heat large pan or flat griddle over a medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray (or lightly coat with olive oil.)
Place the patties in the pan, giving them enough room so that you can easily flip them.
Cook for 5 minutes on each side until nicely browned and serve with any and all awesome burger toppings.
- I also added about a 1/4 cup of roasted corn kernels. They were frozen and I thawed them and pan roasted them with some olive oil, salt and pepper until golden brown. If you don’t have corn around, it’s not worth worrying about, but it adds another texture.
- The extras freeze really well. After you cook them in a pan and they’ve cooled, wrap them up individually and freeze. I reheated mine in the oven, wrapped in foil.