( picture here: http://saverqueen.com/2011/04/13/veggie-burgers-revisited/ )
Although I now eat just about anything, I went through a large period of my life where I was vegan or vegetarian, and my passion for vegetarian cooking stuck with me. People who are used to eating meat at every meal don’t get it, but I think that once you get used to eating vegetarian, you realize that there is a lot of flavour and texture to be had in legumes and vegetables.
Vegetarian cooking is great because, if done well, it pushes you to boost the amount of healthy stuff in your meals – relying on an assortment of veggies, beans, lentils and other nutritious foods. But vegetarian cooking is not only good for you; it’s also easy, healthy, often less work than cooking meat, and much, much cheaper.
Having said all that, if you’re vegetarian, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the same cravings that non-vegetarians do, or that you don’t want to participate in the fun of BBQ’ing. Now that spring is slowly making its appearance, so are BBQ’s, and you don’t want to miss out on the fun. The answer? A great homemade veggie burger.
Good veggie burgers are hard to find. There aren’t a lot of choices out there. If you buy something pre-made at the store you risk winding up with something rubbery that bears very little resemblance to real food.
As such, I have perfected my own veggie burger recipe. Let me be upfront by saying that these do not resemble the texture of meat. But that’s a desire only new vegetarians cling to. If you’re eating vegetarian, be prepared for a big change. Vegetables are not meat. It takes a lot of processing to get them to feel or taste like meat. Committing to vegetarianism is about letting go of your expectations and being able to appreciate the unique tastes and textures that your new diet has to offer.
These patties are soft, because they are made with lentils and mushrooms, and are not firm and chewy like a hamburger patty. But who cares? They are delicious. They are healthy, packed with fibre, protein and other nutrients (unlike hamburger meat). They are easy to make. And they certainly quench my desire for a hamburger (especially when paired with delicious, albeit fattening, toppings, and French fries or chips, just like a real burger.)
I cannot take credit for this recipe – I found it in an LCBO magazine – but I adapted the recipe, modifying the ratios somewhat and making a few other changes to make them less crumbly.
Lentil Walnut Burgers
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin (freshly ground is best)
1/2 tsp each s&p
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1.5 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 . In a small saucepan, bring lentils and water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, s&p; cook 1 minute. Stir in walnuts and mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are completely tender and no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Stir in cilantro, bread crumbs and lentils to combine. Form into patties.
3. Grill over medium heat on greased grill, turning once until crisp and golden on each side, about 12 minutes. You can also use a frying pan – also on medium heat for the same amount of time. Only flip once; otherwise you risk breaking the patty apart.
4. Serve on grilled whole grain buns with desired toppings: I recommend garlic or curry mayonnaise, grilled mushrooms, and cheese.
Makes 4 large burgers (or 6 small ones).