Spicy Lentil Burgers
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I think it goes without saying that most Americans rarely, if ever, eat lentils. I made the mistake of including an entire chapter in my book on lentils and got a few emails that basically went: “Lentils? Dude… who eats lentils?!”
Oh… you know… just the entire continent of Europe for starters.
I have a theory that the reason they aren’t popular in America is because you can’t find a canned or frozen/pre-ready version of them. In other words, you have to actually cook them if you want them.
But, you should cook them. They are easier than many other legumes to make. Even the sturdier lentils (like the green ones I used for this post) can be ready in 30 minutes. Also, they are so good for you. By weight lentils have more protein than ground beef (by a lot actually). They are also jam-packed with fiber.
I could go on, but let’s just say that they are delicious. One of my favorite ways to use them is in a really thick burger. They have a really meaty texture and flavor actually.
1) Cook lentils according to package. Drain lentils and set aside.
2) In a large skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for a minute until they start to soften. Then add garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, and a pinch of salt. cook for another minute.
3) Add corn, Serrano pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon juice. Cook for another few minutes.
4) Add cooked lentils and toss to combine ingredients.
5) Transfer mixture to a large bowl and mash well with salt, egg, flour, and breadcrumbs. Form four large burgers with the mixture.
6) Sear burgers in a large skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil until the burgers are browned well on the sides, 5-6 minutes.
7) Serve seared burgers on a toasted bun with mayo, sriracha, fresh mango, roasted red peppers, and avocado.
TIP: You can also grill these burgers. Wipe your grill grates clean and oil them lightly. Be careful when flipping them. They should hold together okay though as long as you don’t mess with them too much.
The Lentil Prep
The nice thing about lentils is you don’t have to soak them or anything. You just gently simmer them until they are tender and then drain them and they are done. It’s basically like pasta!
One thing I would recommend though is sorting through your lentils quickly. Occasionally, you might find a little pebble or something in them. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever found one in a bag of Bob’s Red Mill lentils. They do a really good job of sorting, but if you buy bulk lentils, definitely go through them.
I just simmer these in water until they are tender (taste one every five minutes or so).
Then drain them and they are ready to go.
I like to make a big batch of lentils and use the leftovers for these spicy lentil burgers.
Making the Spicy Lentil Burgers
Besides the lentils, which act as a great base for the burger, there are some big flavors here.
Don’t forget the sun-dried tomatoes! These really up the savory flavors in the burgers.
Start the burger mixture by adding some olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the onions and herbs for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic after a few minutes so it doesn’t burn.
Then add the corn, sun-dried tomato, Serrano pepper, lemon, and lentils. Cook that all together for a few minutes and season it with salt and pepper.
Scoop the mixture into a large bowl and let it cool a bit. Then mash it with a large fork or a potato masher. You want to combine everything but you still want some real texture to the burgers. I wouldn’t put this stuff in a food processor. It’ll over-process the mixture.
Once the mixture is room temperature, add the egg, flour, and breadcrumbs. Then make four large burgers out of the mixture!
You could grill these, but be careful with them. You wouldn’t want to flip them too much.
Personally, I like to pan-sear them for 5-6 minutes per side in a skillet over medium heat. This gets a good crust on the burgers and makes sure the egg is cooked.
There is a lot of flavor in these burgers. You could do traditional burger toppings with them, but I went a little out of the box here. I sliced up some avocado, roasted red pepper, and mango. For the mango, it’s actually okay if it’s a little under-ripe. Slice it thin and the mango is really crispy which is a nice texture.
Stack all this stuff on a toasted bun with some mayo and sriracha on the bottom.
Even as a meat-eater, I gotta say this is one delicious burger.
If you wanted to skip the bun, serve these on lettuce. That would be great also!
Okay, raise your hand if you’re a lentil fan! If you are, cook these for non-lentil fans and bring them into the lentil world!