Vegan Lentil Burgers Recipe: a Quick, Tasty and Ethical Game Changer
Time: prep. 15 mins
cook. 10 mins
Yields: 8 burgers
Cholesterol (the bad one) is bad for us, as are saturated fats, sugar and salt; and do you know where these public enemies of our arteries are found most? That’s right, in fast food choices(1). A single hamburger of a meagre 106 grams (we know too well that one alone would not satiate even a child) contains 13 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fat and 1.3 grams of salt, I repeat, in just 106 grams! Let’s add the diabolical french fries that take possession of our fingers, forcing them to go back and forth between the mouth and the medium portion box at the speed of light: which contains 16 grams of fat, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein and 0.5 grams of salt; and of course the famous brownish ice-cold soda: incredibly sweet with 39 grams of sugar in 400 ml of liquid, ice and air that makes us do bubble from all sides.
With this choice we may have saved money and even time (eating that burger would take you only few minutes), but also gained a heavy burden on the liver, stomach, kidneys, bile, arteries and heart (your body can digest it in not less than 24 hours)… without even feeling full for more than 1 hour.
Thanks to the growing number of consumers who are aware of both health and ethical issues, times are changing even for the Bigs in the fast food sector: in fact, the marketing operation known as green-washing, useful for not losing an important slice of the environmentalist market, sees them modify their menus by adding tasty “vegetarian or vegan burgers”. We could say “finally” and all the better for the world, if it were not for the fact that the planet will never be safe, as long as multinationals continue to exist.
So if you just can’t resist the temptation of meat, here is a truly perfect recipe to prepare some excellent lentil burgers at home, without spending a fortune: with high quality ingredients, 100% plant-based, zero packaging and without spending half a day in the kitchen.
Someone will think to choose the shortest way, buying them ready to cook from the supermarket; and probably the latest vegan burgers could be really “sensational“, but they also have an “incredible” cost, both for the budget and ethics-environment and sometimes also for health. So please give a chance to this recipe, a great combination of the various criteria of sustainability; besides being without ifs and buts, as DELICIOUS as the commercial ones!
If we also want these lentil burgers to become “fast”, always keep some cooked lentils in the freezer, so that the only thing you have to do is to thaw them out in time.
Ingredients for 8 lentil burgers
350 grams of green lentils, already cooked and well drained
70 grams of seitan (you can also prepare it at home)
60 grams of nuts or other dried fruit
50 grams of peppers
40 grams of old bread (or breadcrumbs)
1 chopped raw beet (about 100 grams)
1 boiled potato (if you are not vegan use 1 egg)
2 tablespoons finely chopped leeks (or onion)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh favorite herbs (parsley or basil or dill etc)
½ teaspoon of chili pepper or paprika (hot or not, optional)
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 pinch of baking soda
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of olive oil for cooking
For the burgers (I put two burgers in one bread)
4 round whole grain/cereal buns
8 lettuce leaves
8 slices of tomato
8 slices of onion
4 tablespoons homemade ketchup
4 tablespoons homemade tahini sauce or Greek yogurt or vegan mayonnaise or a mix of all
4 tablespoons mustard
16 slices of pickled cucumbers
Chop the ingredients in the food processor one by one, but without turning them into “flour”; start with the walnuts, and set them aside.
Then chop the seitan more or less in the same size and transfer it to the plate of nuts.
Now it’s the turn of the peppers, then the beet, but chop the vegetables only after they have already been cut into cubes so as not to fatigue the chopper unnecessarily.
Once you have reached the desired size put everything aside.
If the stale bread is too hard, chop it up after you have thoroughly soaked and squeezed it; otherwise you can put it in the bowl of the food processor as it is, together with the leeks (always cut into slices), garlic, spices and lentils; chop everything together: it must not become too homogeneous, it is pleasant to feel the different textures under your teeth.
The potato, on the other hand, should be added only after having mashed it with a fork: its binding effect will reach optimal levels in this way (to learn about other egg substitutes read this article).
To make this recipe you will need already cooked green lentils; as I always emphasize, even if lentils do not need it to be cooked well, it would be advisable to soak them for at least 1-2 hours, changing the water 1-2 times, in order to reduce their phytate content(2), (here is all you need to know about cooking dried legumes). I also suggest to cook them in large quantities, in order to freeze them already portioned, and use them when needed
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Now combine all the ingredients in a large container and mix them well with a spoon.
In the meantime, put a fairly large frying pan on the stove, greased well with a little oil.
Create the lentil burgers using a specific mold; or use a food ring mold and a jar of the ideal size (see video below).
It takes about 5 minutes of moderate cooking per side; but to avoid a disaster, wait to flip them only once the base is well hardened.
Like any respectable burger, lentil burgers are at their best when served with a typical round bun, freshly warmed and loaded with lettuce; tomato slices, pickled cucumbers, a few slices of raw onion, homemade ketchup (I use tomato paste and add a few drops of balsamic vinegar of Modena), homemade mayonnaise (for the vegan version you should definitely read this recipe); and a generous amount of tahini (see here how to make it at home) mixed with lemon juice, minced garlic and a pinch of cumin. All these condiments, rich in vitamin C and carotene, in addition to enriching the taste of your burger, allow the assimilation of most of the iron contained in lentils, reducing the chelating effect of absorption antagonists(3).
Enjoy your burgers and good revolution to all
1) Duffey, Kiyah J et al. “Regular consumption from fast food establishments relative to other restaurants is differentially associated with metabolic outcomes in young adults.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 139,11 (2009): 2113-8. doi:10.3945/jn.109.109520
2) R.Y. Khattab,S.D. Arntfield. (2009). Nutritional quality of legume seeds as affected by some physical treatments LWT – Food Science and Technology ISSN: 0023-6438, Vol: 42, Issue: 6, Page: 1113-1118.
3) Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419.