I love a good sandwich/burger but switching to a vegetarian diet can make that endeavor seem boring. There aren’t many option out there for us non meat-eating foodies. Some restaurants will offer the lonely veggie burger on the menu but I’ve found (based on portion size) that a lot of places assume being a vegetarian means that you don’t want to eat that much (couldn’t be farther from the truth in my case) but what if you want to have one at home?
Buying veggie burgers at the store can be disappointing. Maybe they taste terrible or you have to eat two to even feel satisfied. I have to admit, I’ve been scared to embark down the road of constructing my own. It seemed like such a daunting task, so I kept giving in and buying Morningstar, which I like, but they can’t even step in the ring with The Ultimate Veggie Burger. I got this recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, which I would suggest getting a copy of if you don’t have one already. It has tons of recipes and teaches you how to make/do the fundamentals…like veggie burgers :-).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup dried green lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3/4 cup bulgur
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, washed thoroughly (dirt can build up inside), and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup of light mayonnaise
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- Hamburger buns, or however you wish to eat them. I have yet to use a bun, I put it on top of salad or alone with some BBQ sauce and veggies on the side (broccoli b/c that’s my favorite)
Get all your ingredients prepared and chopped before you start cooking.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil with lentils and 1 tsp. of salt in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until falling apart, about 25 minutes, drain in strainer.
- Line a baking sheet with paper tower and put lentils onto paper towel, patting lentils with paper towel to remove excess water. Let cool to room temp.
- While lentils simmer, bring 2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. of salt to boil in small saucepan. Stir in bulgur and cover immediately, remove from heat and let sit until water is absorbed. About 15-20 minutes. Drain in strainer and use spatula to press out excess water, put into large bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, leek, and garlic. Stir occasionally until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Spread vegetable mixture onto baking pan to cool and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the same pan over high heat, add mushrooms and stir occasionally until golden brown. Spread mushrooms onto pan with vegetable mixture and cool to room temp.
- Process cashews in food processor until finely chopped and stir cashews into bowl with bulgur (do not rinse food processor) then stir in cooled lentils, vegetable-mushroom mixture and mayonnaise.
- Put small portions of mixture in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (15 to 20 pulses) mixture should be cohesive but roughly chopped. Transfer to bowl and repeat for entire mixture.
- Stir in panko and 1 tsp of salt and pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with paper towel (to absorb excess moisture).
- Divide mixture into portions, about 1/2 cup each. Shape into tightly packed patties and place onto baking sheet. I made 16 patties.
- You can leave patties in fridge for up to 3 days or you can freeze and save for later.
- If you are going to freeze, you need to add extra panko to absorb the excess moisture from freezing. Add 1 tsp of panko to mixture (before shaping) for each patty to be frozen.
You can cook patties on stove in a pan over medium heat for about 4 minutes each side or you can cook on grill for about 5 minutes each side.
If you freeze patties, which I did, just thaw out overnight in fridge with paper towel to absorb extra moisture. I stored each patty separately in a zip-lock bag since I only eat one at a time and I just put a paper towel, folded, in the bag before I put it into the fridge.
These burgers taste really great and have a lot more nutritional value than the frozen ones you buy from the store. The leeks give it a nice taste and the nuts add some great texture.