Let’s talk about vegetarian burgers.
Okay, so I admit that most vegetarian burgers suck. They are dry and flavorless, or they are flavorful but chocked full of who-knows-what. Not to mention that they’re generally comprised of carbs with minimal veggies and protein, which makes slapping them on a bun gastronomically redundant. This burger is none of those things. This veggie burger is legit.
We’re talking not only vegetarian but also vegan and gluten free. Pretty awesome, no? Not only that, but this thing is bursting with rich, meaty flavor. There is a definite darkness and depth to this burger that is downright magnificent. I’ve had quite a few good veggie burgers, but I know that this is my favorite for not only its stellar flavor profile but also its wholesome ingredient list.
In addition to the succulent burger, I wanted to make sure that the condiments and bread each got equal attention. My belief is that the finishing touches are what can really make a meal, and this burger is no exception.
First off is the bread. For this occasion, I opted to make some brioche-like hamburger buns with whole grain and unbleached wheat flours (goodbye gluten free!). Because they are similar to brioche, they do have eggs and butter (goodbye vegan!). I promise to be working on a wholesome, multigrain burger bun for the future, but for now you can all enjoy the scrumptious brioche burger buns when I post them in a few days!
Finally we have condiments and toppings. I decided to whip up a batch of balsamic onions for these burgers, and let me say that they are just perfect. Their tangy sweetness compliments everything else marvelously. Other things you can put on (like I did) are baby greens, plain yoghurt, extra pepper, a crumbling of goat cheese (not pictured), and a smidge of extra Dijon.
Portobello Mushroom and Lentil Burgers
Inspired by Sarah Britton’s Wild Mushroom Lentil Burgers, http://mynewroots.org/site/2012/11/wild-mushroom-lentil-burgers-with-cashew-garlic-sauce-at-whole-living/. While my recipe calls for French lentils, I suspect that plain old lentils will work as well, provided you do not let them overcook or become watery.
190 grams / 1 cup French lentils
Knob of ghee or coconut oil
1 white onion, sliced
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
80 grams / 1/2 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
Rinse and drain the lentils. Place them in a pot with 2 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender. Remove lid to cool and drain any remaining water.
In a frying pan, heat the knob of oil. Toss in sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sauté a few minutes more. Add in the mushroom and allow to cook without stirring for a few minutes so they brown. After five minutes, stir the mushrooms and add in the soy sauce. Set the mushroom mixture aside.
In the bowl of your food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds until they resemble bread crumbs. Dump in the lentils, mushroom mixture, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until just combined. You want the mixture to have plenty of texture and to be pretty thick. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Dump the lentil mixture into a bowl and stir in the capers.
Form 6-8 balls with the mixture, slightly smaller than a baseball. Gently press the balls to flatten them, keeping in mind to let them be good and thick. Press the edges so they don’t crack.
There are two ways to cook these lovely patties, frying or baking. Since they’re already cooked, your main concern is warming them through.
Frying: Heat a knob of oil or ghee in a frying pan. Fry the patties 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve.
Baking: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet and place patties on it. Bake 15-20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Serve.
Serve burgers open-faced (or not!) on a whole grain brioche bun, piece of sourdough bread, or stuffed into a multigrain pita. Garnish with some lovely leaves, condiments, cheeses, and balsamic onions. Or just do whatever you want!
knob of ghee or coconut oil
1 white onion, sliced into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons unrefined cane sugar
kosher salt, to taste
In a frying pan, melt a pat of butter. Add in onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add in vinegar and sugar, cook for a few minutes more. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Serve chilled.
Makes about 1/2 cup