Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Red Lentil Burgers: Vegetarians Love BBQ's Too!

It's officially (not technically, but…) summer here in CT, and that means it's BBQ time! There's not much better than a lazy, hot, summer afternoon spent cooking out, as far as I'm concerned. But, I think it goes with out saying that typical BBQ fare isn't very vegetarian friendly - burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, the list goes on. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy an occasional grilled turkey burger, or chicken kebabs, or especially grilled salmon, but it can be hard to find alternatives to meat at many backyard BBQ's.

This weekend, after deciding to throw an impromptu cookout, I decided I would attempt my own homemade veggie burgers. I had a bag of red lentils I picked up recently from a local international market that I'd been dying to finally use, so I thought I'd use those as a base. I googled a few veggie burger recipes, to see what the basics are, and went from there.

-1 1/2 cups red lentils
-3 cups water
-extra virgin olive oil
-8 oz mushrooms, chopped
-1 sweet onion, chopped
-5 carrots, shredded
-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
-1 - 2 teaspoons curry powder
-1 teaspoon ginger
-dash of cayenne pepper
-1/2 - 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
-2 egg whites
-1/4 cup rolled oats
-salt and pepper to taste
-panko bread crumbs 

Pour the water in a pot over the lentils, and heat over medium-high heat. Once they come to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once tender, remove the pot from heat and set aside.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of evoo in a large pan, then add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic, and saute for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked lentils, curry, ginger, and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove the pan from heat and let cool. Add the breadcrumbs, egg whites, and rolled oats. 

Form into burger sized patties, and coat in Panko bread crumbs. Burgers can be pan fried in a small amount of olive oil (being careful to only flip the burgers once - they will be very tender!). Extras can be frozen in a single layer on a cookie sheet and stored in freezer bags once they are completely frozen. They can be reheated on the stovetop or in the oven.

If there's one thing I can't stress enough, it's to be extremely careful when flipping your burgers, as they will be very delicate, even with the breadcrumbs and egg whites as binders. AND, this recipe makes a LOT, but you will want every last one. I ended up with 8 regular sized burgers and 10 slider-sized mini-burgers. We made the sliders as appetizers at our BBQ, and froze the regular sized burgers for the future. AND, even my meat loving brother-in-law, who ALWAYS give me crap for not eating meat loved them! 

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