This Veggie Burger is an excellent alternative to beef and is loaded with vitamins, nutrients, minerals and fiber, all while satisfying your burger craving. It’s based on mushrooms, black beans, and lentils, holds up on the stove or in the oven, and tastes delicious!
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are pulses, which are the edible seeds of a plant. Their name is derived from the Latin term- lens, most likely due to their shape that resembles a convex optic lens. Lentils have been in existence for over 8,000 years, originating in the Near East and Mediterranean.
Then, they were known as a poor man’s food, and often shunned by the rich. Today, they are recognized as an excellent source of protein and are often a primary source of protein, particularly for vegans. About 50% of the world’s lentils are consumed in India. The flavor of lentils is a very earthy, savory flavor and, like mushrooms, they tend to take on the flavor of the cooking liquid be it water, chicken, vegetable or beef broth.
Are Lentils and Split Peas The Same?
Lentils and split peas are not the same- they are cousins. Split peas have had their outer coat removed (thus, they are “split from their outer coats”). Lentils retain their outer coat. For this reason, split peas cook quicker than lentils. Lentils differ from other pulses (chickpeas, beans, peas) in that they do not require soaking. Simply rinse and add them to liquid.
How-To Make a Veggie Burger Patty
The tricky part of preparing a really good veggie burger is getting the right consistency. Since this recipe doesn’t use an egg as a binding agent, the cooked lentils serve this purpose.
Cook and drain the lentils; toss them in the strainer a couple of times. As they toss, they begin to break down even further resulting in a mushy consistency which is ideal for a vegetarian binding agent. This recipe uses two ice cream scoops of “burger” mixture and makes about 6 small patties.
If you elect to add additional ingredients for a modified flavor, do so in the food processor, when the mushrooms and beans are pureed. At this point, you should be able to tell if the mixture is too liquid or too dry. If too liquid, add more whole grain bread crumbs. If too dry, add more lentils or cooked grains.
Additional Ingredients for Consideration
- Vegetables: waxy potatoes (Yukon gold) cook, cool, chop and add to mushroom mixture
- Grains: substitute lentils with whole grain cooked brown rice, barley, quinoa, or farro. If you use a cooked grain, drain well after cooking and use a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture.
- Greens: spinach, kale, finely chopped green beans, green peas
- Spice: chopped jalapeno, hatch peppers, red or green bell pepper, chipotle peppers
Mushrooms Provide Nutrients to Veggie Burger
Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, potassium and copper. Selenium is a component of antioxidant enzymes that regulate the thyroid hormone.
Potassium assists in regulating blood pressure by helping the kidneys excrete excess sodium. Copper is a component of several enzymes involved in iron metabolism and serves as an antioxidant.
Mushrooms are also a good source of the B vitamins: B5, pantothenic acid, which is essential for energy metabolism.
While not only providing a good dose of vitamins, mushrooms also provide trace minerals, which are essential to keep the body balanced and in-check.
Legumes Provide Fiber to Veggie Burger
Legumes provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, neither which are digested or absorbed into the blood. Insoluble fiber moves quickly through the intestinal tract, balancing the pH levels and removing toxic waste.
Soluble fiber forms a gel when combined with liquid and binds to fatty acids; this prolongs the process of emptying the stomach, thus, sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. Due to complex carbohydrates, legumes have a low glycemic index which results in the sugars taking longer to break down. Since it takes longer for the soluble fiber to break down, you feel full for a longer period of time.
Craving More Vegetarian Dishes? Try Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 scallions chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup lentils cooked
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- whole grain burger buns
- 1 large organic tomato
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped chipotle peppers
- pinch of salt
- Cook lentils: On medium high heat, add lentils and 4 cups water; cook uncovered for 30 minutes
- In food processor, add mushrooms, scallions and black beans; puree to a finely chopped consistency
- In a large bowl, combine mushroom mixture and cooled/drained lentils; combine well
- Add bread crumbs, seasoned salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to mixture
- Combine, form into balls, flatten and place on baking sheet; refrigerate 30 minutes
- Toast whole grain buns, slice tomato and onion
- In a skillet on medium high heat, add olive oil; cook burgers for 3 minutes on each side
- Assemble burger with dressing of your choice*, spinach, burger, tomato and onion
- * Depending upon your preference, some sauces that go well with this dish are steak sauce, Dijon mustard, horseradish mayonnaise, sun-dried tomato hummus
- Additions to the general mushroom mixture for flavor: drained green chiles, drained chipotle peppers, minced onion, salsa, tomato paste
- Additions to the general mushroom mixture for enhanced nutrients: flax seed, wheat germ, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Keep in mind, if moisture is added, increase the amount of bread crumbs; if grains/seeds are added, increase the amount of lentils or add an egg