Vegetarian burgers are standard on the menu here in the summer. I make a recipe and if not using all the burgers immediately I freeze them individually, well wrapped in plastic bags and pull them out as I need them. They reheat beautifully in a 375℉ oven or on a grill. I make them with cooked lentils and whatever vegetables I have on hand. For these burgers you need brown or greenish lentils that cook to a soft texture. Black beluga or du Puy lentils will not work the same as they tend to retain their shape and be somewhat crunchy (great for lentil salads or side dishes). I also use the Indian daal lentils, they are small, flavourful, cook quickly and have a good creamy texture that makes the burger patties hold together well.
If you have a food processor then making these is very easy. I do all the vegetable chopping in the processor. You can use everything raw although I prefer to sauté a couple of the vegetables, especially the onion, as I feel it gives better flavour to the burgers. I make these either vegan or with eggs. Eggs tend to help this kind of vegetarian “cakes” or burgers keep their shape and be more sturdy. This recipe produces burgers that hold together nicely thanks to the starchy potato and a couple of tablespoons of whole wheat flour. Both add a starchy-sticky element that helps hold the patties together. If you are worried then add the eggs, 2 for the entire recipe (12 large burgers). Sometimes I make half without eggs and the last half with eggs, to accommodate my vegan guests. I prefer to cook the burgers on an electric flat surface griddle, the kind I cook pancakes on. I can cook several at the same time and they cook evenly. You can cook them in a skillet on top of the stove, it just takes longer. Serve the burgers in nice buns with special homemade mayonnaise, condiments, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, even a pickle is nice. Your friends will love you.
2 cups lentils (see note above), rinsed and drained
5 cups water (you can use stock but it is not necessary
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red pepper (yellow, orange), finely chopped
1 Idaho baking potato (or another brown skinned starchy potato)
A handful of flat leaf parsley
1 cup fine bread crumbs plus more for sprinkling on the formed burgers before cooking
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 eggs, optional
Canola oil for cooking the burgers
Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Rinse and drain the lentils, then place in a 2 quart pot with a lid. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover the pot and cook until water is almost absorbed and lentils are cooked. This doesn’t take very long so be sure to check the pot often. When the lentils are cooked (taste a spoonful) drain excess water and place lentils in a large bowl.
While the lentils are cooking heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the finely chopped the onion and garlic. when onion is translucent add the chopped pepper and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add to the lentils and mix well.
Peel the baking (Idaho) potato and cut into chunks. Place in a food processor with the regular blade and process until finely chopped. It will be a creamy consistency. Immediately pour into a sieve and drain excess water over the sink. Press down on the potato mixture with a spatula to release any moisture. Add the drained potatoes to the lentils and mix them well into the lentils. If you let the potatoes sit around they will oxidize and become reddish brown and be rendered unusable, so mix them in with the lentils quickly.
Chop the carrots into a few chunks and add them to the food processor together with the parsley. Process until the carrots and parsley are chopped together into a beautifull orange-green mixture. It’s so pretty. Add that to the lentils.
Add the spice mixture to the lentils and mix well with a spatula.
Add bread crumbs and mix them in. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.
Add eggs and mix well (for vegan version omit eggs).
Form the mixture into a test burger. It should hold together nicely. If it doesn’t, add more bread crumbs, a little at a time, until you can form burgers that hold together.
Heat up a little oil (1/4 cup) on a non-stick electric griddle. You don’t need much, only to coat the surface of the griddle. I often spray the griddle with non stick oil and just brush the canola oil over with a silicon brush.
Scoop up the lentil mixture with a 1/2 cup measuring cup and form into 4″ burgers. sprinkle with a little bread crumbs to dry the surface (not to create a coating, just a sprinkle).
Lay the burgers on the hot grizzle and cook until nicely golden on the bottom. Turn them over and cook the other side.
Remove to a paper lined tray as you cook them.
Either save immediately with burger accoutrements or cool, place in freezer bags, one or two to a bag, and freeze until needed. The burgers also keep nicely in the fridge for a few days, well wrapped.