Lentils are definitely one of those things that fall under the category of ‘should eat more of’, and every time I cook with them, I am reminded of the glory of their versatility.
As someone with a decent memory of what beef tastes like, I’m confident that when cooked lovingly with softened onions and aromatic spices, they can bring the weighty, umami-full flavour you seek in a burger.
This idea for a Middle Eastern inspired burg came to me on a lazy Sunday indulging in the food network. A certain spiky blond haired character was grilling up what he called ‘Kofta Burgers’, a juicy beef patty smothered with a yogurt tahini sauce and quick pickles. This guy was onto something.
The brilliance that is spiced meat, spattered with tahini and squished between warm bread is by no means new. But something about sticking the idea between two toasted burger buns reminds me why I love playing with food so much.
PS – if you’re looking for a bunless variety, this burger is equally divine wrapped in a crisp romaine leaf.
- 1 cup raw brown lentils
- 1 yellow onion, small diced
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/3 cups oats
- 1.5 tbsp tamari
- 2 eggs or 2 chia eggs (1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 2 tbsp water)
- spices: 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp za'atar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold water
- around 2 cups of your favourite veg, thinly sliced. I used beets and cucumber.
- 2 tbsp tahini
- the juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 3-4 tbsp warm water
- sea salt
- brioche buns or pita bread
- romaine lettuce
- hot chili sauce.
- Make the pickles: Divide the sliced vegetables into jars. I kept mine in separate jars to preserve their colour, but its not vital. In a medium pan, heat the sugar, vinegar and salt over medium heat. Stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cold water, stir and remove from the heat to cool down. Pour over the vegetables and shimmy them around to coat them with the pickling mixture. Keep in the fridge until ready to enjoy. Upwards of an hour is best.
- Cook the lentils: In a medium pot, heat 2 tsp of oil over medium high heat and add the onions and spices. Cook for 3-4 min, until softened a bit. Add the lentils and 2 1/2 cups water. (may vary, check the instructions on the lentils you are using) Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat, cover the lentils and cook for 20-25 min (again, may vary) until the lentils are tender to your liking. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Prepare the burger filling: Preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the oats and walnuts to a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the cooked lentils, tamari, and eggs. Pulse 3-4 times, so the mixture forms a wet dough. Everything should be well combined. The mixture will be wet, but not too wet to form patties easily. Fold in more oats if needed.
- On a lined baking sheet, drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil and arrange 6 round patties on the sheet.
- Bake for 16-18 min, until crisp on the outside.
- Mix the tahini: In a medium bowl, add the tahini, water, lemon juice and salt. Whisk well until it is creamy.
- Serve the burgers on toasted buns with tahini, pickles and hot sauce over.
*pickle recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen