December 29th, 2010

Olive Lentil Burgers

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Serves 6
Active time: 20 minutes || Total time: 45 minutes

I like veggie burgers. Well, duh, don’t all vegans like veggie burgers? What I mean is, I like veggie burgers that are veggie burgers. I’m not looking for a burger to mimic meat. I love the idea that we can take almost any flavor profile and fashion it into a delectable burger. In this case, lentils, olive and mushroom, with a few pinches of herbs.

This burger is baked not fried (but hey, go ahead and fry it if you like, about 10 to 12 minutes.) I’m kind of particular about my veggie burger shape – I really like for it to be neat, with perfectly round, smooth sides. A veggie burger that looks like it’s on America’s Next Top Veggie Burger. To get that shape, just pat your veggie burger into a 3 inch cookie cutter like so:

Don’t worry about finger prints in the burgers, they will flatten out when you flip them.

These would be great served as you would any burger – ketchup, pickles, onions and what not. But it would also be pretty good done up with Italian inspired fixins, like roasted red pepper and pesto. Maybe a little pesto mixed into some vegan mayo? Let your imagination run wild.

If you want to make a double batch and freeze them, cook first, then stack with squares of parchment paper to keep them separated. Freeze in ziplock bags.

One last thing, I use canned lentils here. You can use french or green lentils that you cook yourself, but you’ll need to play with consistency a bit, most likely adding a little bit more breadcrumbs to get them firm enough. Don’t use red lentils, they are too mushy.

Olive oil (from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, your choice)
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (really, use any pitted olive you like)
1 15 oz can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup breadcrumbs, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan non-stick (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Saute onion for about 3 minutes with a pinch of salt. Add mushroom, garlic, black pepper, thyme and tarragon and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until mushroom is cooked.

While mushroom is cooking, place olives in food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped (not pureed.) Remove from food processor and set aside. (No need to clean it out for the next step.)

When mushrooms have cooked, add mushroom mixture to the food processor. Add all other ingredients except for 1/2 a cup of the breadcrumbs. (Did you hear me? Reserve 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs, this will give them better texture.) Pulse until mostly smooth, but there should still be a little texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to the burger mixture, along with the chopped olives, and thoroughly combine.

Divide burger mix into 6 equal pieces. An easy way to do this is divide it in half, then cut each half into 3 basically equal portions. You can do that right in the bowl if it’s large enough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Form mixture into patties, spray with a little more cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes. Flip burgers and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes, until nicely browned.

They taste great served immediately but they’re also excellent at room temperature so don’t be afraid to stuff into a sandwich and take as a lunch.

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