As a previously meat-consuming vegetarian, I can honestly say that I do not miss meat. I can only think of one instance where I was watching TV and really could have taken a bite out of the lobster grilled cheese they were showing, but that's it. Even being around others eating a steak or burger does absolutely nothing for me. This coming from a girl whose high school graduation present was a 7 course foie gras tasting menu. Man have the tables turned.
I rarely make things to compensate for my lack of animal-based protein. Sure I will add black beans to my salad or cook some lentils every now and then, but I don't go out of my way to ensure I get that all-important protein. Veggie burgers are almost never on my radar. I have made them once or twice and although they tasted fine, they were just texturally lacking. All the recipes I have found that claim to be the "meatiest" call for about 100 steps from cooking brown rice, to sautéing veggies and chopping nuts. For what the end product is, I just don't feel it is worth it most of the time.
Well have I got news for you. As it turns out, you can make pretty decent veggie burgers in about half an hour (including prep and cook time). They don't taste like meat but they definitely taste good. Canned lentils are the key. I am not usually a fan of pre-cooked ingredients but they make this recipe way more efficient without sacrificing flavour. Stipulation #2; do not over mix the burger dough (apparently I am likening veggie burgers to bread now). I literally pulsed it 3 times in my food processor and that was it. You want crunch, not baby food. The fact that you stir in the bread crumbs by hand also helps with this.
This is one of those recipes that I wish I had discovered ages ago. Has it changed my outlook on life? Probably. Well at least it has changed my opinion of veggie burgers.
Lentil Walmut Veggie Burgers
Adapted from Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal
Makes 6 patties
2 cups cooked canned lentils
1 cup walnuts (but feel free to substitute any other nuts you like)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp. onion flakes
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko but any variety would work)
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a food processor, pulse together the lentils, walnuts, eggs and spices. This will literally take 5 seconds, you want it to bind together while still remaining its texture.
2. Pour the puree into a bowl and stir in the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the burger mixture to sit for 15-20 minutes, in order for the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture.
3. Form the mixture into burger patties. Cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side, or until golden. You can use oil to do this but I cooked them in a dry pan.
4. Serve with lettuce, tomato and mayo on the bun of your choice. If you are making them for less than 6 people, feel free to only cook off what you need and save the rest of the veggie burger mixture to cook at a later time (it can keep for 3-4 days in the fridge).