I absolutely love veggie burgers, but finding good ones that aren’t overly processed and loaded with chemicals, fillers, preservatives and other junk, is really hard on its own, but then add in the additional challenge of finding them gluten-free, it’s damn near impossible. Since I have cut processed foods out of my diet, whenever I want a veggie burger, I have been enjoying organic garden herb burgers from Sunshine Burgers that are not only gluten-free, but they only have 5 ingredients, sunflower seeds, brown rice, carrots, herbs and salt, that’s it. I am quite impressed with how delicious they are, but as with everything, I get bored and I want to figure out how to make my own, since, I really hate buying packaged foods.
I decided I wanted to experiment with making homemade lentil burgers. I had seen quite a few recipes in different cookbooks and online, and I was excited to see if using lentils as opposed to brown rice or other grain-based fillers, would hold up better and not fall apart. In my experience, that seems to be the biggest challenge with homemade veggie burgers. I was also excited to finally have a good reason to use the delicious toasted gluten-free breadcrumbs that I picked up when I was in Colorado earlier this year. The company that makes them is called, Outside the Breadbox and I found them by visiting Granny’s Gluten Free Zone in Loveland. I need to email them about having them shipped to me, they are THAT good. Finally I decided this is the recipe where I would use the beautiful dried Greek green lentils that I picked up a few weekends ago at the Greek Festival here in Buffalo. By the way, a little side note about me, most people buy souvenirs like t-shirts or key chains to remember certain events or trips, not me, I buy food, ingredients, cooking tools, etc. What better way to remember a place or a day then by remembering and recreating the food or cuisine. If a taste or a smell can’t take you back somewhere, I don’t know what can. I have actually been stopped at security in an airport before trying to take olive oil in my carry-on. (oops)
Now that I have played around with this recipe, I am excited to make it again and again, there are so many variations you could take on the recipe. You could play around with different lentils, change-up the fresh herbs, add in some crumbled feta or other cheeses. Maybe try adding in some sunflower seeds or gluten-free rolled oats or shredded vegetables like zucchini or carrots. I think as long as you adjust your moisture content and breadcrumb content to account for the different ingredients, the sky is the limit with this recipe. Obviously if you aren’t gluten-free you can use your favorite gluten-containing, toasted breadcrumbs.
I served mine on a Rudi’s gluten-free whole grain hamburger bun. This is definitely the best packaged gluten-free roll I have found, yet. I am sure I can make a better gluten-free hamburger roll at home, but I have yet to experiment with a recipe. That is on my to-do list for this summer. If you have a recipe to share, send me a link.
** Vegans – if you don’t want to mess with packaged egg replacers, do some looking around online, there are ways to use even more ground flax-seeds mixed with water to create a paste that acts as an egg replacer. I have done something similar with a pizza crust recipe, so I know it works. The general ratio is 1 tablespoon of ground flax-seed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg, but do some looking around for recipes and do some experimenting. It’s pretty incredible.
Gluten-Free Lentil Burgers
Makes 8 burgers
3 1/4 cups cooked green lentils (follow package directions to cook)
4 large local farm fresh brown eggs (**to make vegan, use your favorite egg replacer or make a flax-seed egg substitute, see above)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium onion, grated with box grater or diced very small
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax-seed (you can skip this if you don’t have any on hand, it isn’t necessary to the recipe, just a nice way to add in some Omega-3 essential fatty acids and even more fiber)
1 cup toasted gluten-free bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Cook your dried lentils according to package directions and allow to cool slightly. Combine 3 cups of the cooked lentils, eggs and salt in a food processor or sturdy blender. Puree until well blended and mostly smooth. Put the mixture in a large mixing bowl and add remaining whole lentils, onion, garlic, fresh herbs and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the ground flax-seed and then begin adding in the breadcrumbs slowly, a little at a time and stir to combine. You may not need all the breadcrumbs and you may need more, so go slowly so you can get the consistency right.
You should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into patties. If you need more moisture, you can add more egg or a bit of water. If it needs to be drier you can add more breadcrumbs. Form eight – 3-1/2 to 4-inch patties and set on a plate.
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add two patties at a time and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the face down side begins to brown and get a crispy crust on the outside. Flip the burgers and allow to cook on the second side for another 8 to 10 minutes until browned and crisp, add more oil as you cook the additional burgers, if you need to. Remove the finished burgers from the skillet and serve, or if cooking the remaining patties allow the cooked patties to cool on a wire rack while you finish. You can store the uncooked patties in the refrigerator for up to a week, so pull them out whenever you are ready for a quick bite.
Place the cooked lentil burger on your favorite gluten-free roll and top with your favorite toppings. We kept it simple and just went with lettuce from our garden, tomato slices and a slice of organic swiss cheese. These burgers are so good, you could also just skip the roll and serve on their own, topped with your favorite things or served over a bed of baby greens.