During the summer, especially when grilling is involved, meat tends to take centre stage. Although I’m not vegetarian in the strict sense of the word, I love experimenting with plant-based recipes. One recipe I haven’t managed to nail down yet is a good veggie burger.
The fact is, vegetarian burgers can be tricky to pull off. Measuring ingredients can be tedious, but when it comes to meatless burgers the wrong proportions can go horribly wrong. Think brittle or goopy or falling apart all over your grill. Not good!
It’s worth seeking out a good basic recipe from a trusted resource and building on it from there.
When the good folks at Ricardo Cuisine asked me to recreate a recipe, I jumped at the chance. My goal: to find an easy vegetarian burger recipe that tastes great and holds its shape when slapped on the grill. (Well, maybe slapped is a bit dramatic, as veggie burgers can be delicate no matter how good the recipe. But you get the picture!)
Enter this lentil burger recipe from Ricardo. Paired with white button mushrooms, lentils make for a sturdy burger patty just dense enough to withstand both the grill and your favourite toppings. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re virtually undetectable in both taste and texture in this recipe. It’s more about bulking things up than anything else.
I followed Ricardo’s recipe closely to get the right consistency and then started experimenting with flavours. Drawing inspiration from the curried chickpea burger I had for lunch last weekend at the Cambridge Mill (see the photo on my Instagram feed), I added a spoonful of curry powder to the mushrooms and shallots near the end of cooking. That mixture went into the food processor along with the lentils, egg and breadcrumbs. After a couple of pulses, it was the perfect texture for burgers: not too smooth but not too chunky, either.
To keep the Indian theme going, I made a small batch of Greek yogurt raita, a cooling condiment made from tangy plain yogurt and chopped cucumber. I used Greek yogurt because that’s what I typically have in my fridge, but you can use regular plain yogurt for a thinner sauce.
As for other condiments and toppings, you can’t go wrong with crunchy lettuce leaves and sliced red onion along with a generous dollop of the raita. You could also add a squeeze or two of sriracha for a spicy, garlicky kick.
Did I mention that lentils also happen to be nutritional powerhouses? Like other legumes, they’re rich in dietary fibre, lean protein and micronutrients (think folate, vitamin B1 and iron), making them the ideal stand-in for meat.
These burgers are also much lower in calories than regular beef burgers and don’t contain any of the unhealthy saturated fats found in animal products. I used a small whole grain bun in this recipe to add even more fibre.
If you’re looking to think outside the box this summer (and eat a little healthier in process), go veggie! This is a great first recipe to try if it’s your first foray into meatless burger land.
For more delicious summer recipes (vegetarian and otherwise), hop over to Ricardo Cuisine and browse the extensive recipe collection. See something you like? Go ahead and bookmark, share and pin to your heart’s content!
Click this link to get the lentil burger recipe. For my curry spiced twist, simply add 1 tablespoon curry powder to the pan with the mushrooms and shallots when they’re almost done cooking. Remove from heat once the curry powder is fragrant and slightly darkened, and then proceed through the recipe as usual. Easy peasy! I’ll be posting the raita recipe in a few days so be sure to check back.
Disclosure: I received a subscription to Ricardo Cuisine magazine in exchange for writing this post. The views and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.