Summer's coming. That means cookouts by the beach and backyard barbeques are coming, too. I know I'm kind of tired of always having the same old veggie burgers. Don't get me wrong, I like veggie burgers and all but sometimes the packages ones aren't so great. Not to mention that they're pretty high in sodium and usually even the best brands contain ingredients that you can't pronounce. So now you're getting all bummed because you know I'm right. Stop planning to cry in your mojitos, I have a solution - olive lentil burgers!
Okay, seriously. I've always been super intimidated by the idea of making my own veggie burgers for some reason. I know, I'll totally go crazy and make some super complicated dinner that takes all day, but I'm scared of a little veggie burger. Or, I used to be at any rate. I don't know why, but one day I got the urge to try and make some from scratch for the first time. I think it was because we had one of those first gorgeous Vancouver days that made me think about lounging around on the beach with friends and food and a few beers. But I digress.
These puppies are so easy to make and they come together fast. I got this recipe from Isa's blog, which is probably not a surprise to anyone who is used to reading about me making something or other that she came up with. I think what drew me in at first was the kalamata olives. Oh, man do I love those. These veggie burgers are full of flavor, hearty and they don't fall apart when you're eating them like so many do!
Someone in the comments over on the PPK (I think that's where I read that at least) suggested using the o-ring from a wide-mouthed mason jar to shape these if you don't have a mold. (You know, the screwy top part of a canning jar.) Seeing as how I have a ton of those lying around, that's what I used and it worked like a charm. One tip - wet your hands and the mold when you're doing the shaping and you won't get veggie burger stuck to either.
The recipe calls for canned lentils, but since I had a bunch of lentils already and they cook fast, I just made some. Just simmer the lentils with a crushed clove or two of garlic and a bay leaf until they're soft and you're good. I think it only took about 45 minutes for mine. I didn't time them, I just started tasting them after about 30 minutes until they seemed like the right texture to me.
Here's something else that's cool. You can totally make these ahead of time and freeze them for later. Just put a little piece of parchment paper in between them before you put them in the freezer so they don't stick together.
We just added some sliced heirloom tomatoes, lettuce and pickles in addition to the usual vegan mayo, mustard and ketchup. Well, James used ketchup, I didn't. I'm not really a fan of ketchup on veggie burgers. You could really put anything on these, though. Keep it simple or make it fancy, they'd be great either way. You might recognize the potato salad from my Potato Salad to Rule the Universe recipe. Yeah, that goes nicely with these, whether you're eating at home or transporting food elsewhere.
Olive Lentil Burgers (recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, copied and pasted directly from her site here.)
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)
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.