Suspiciously Meaty-Looking Lentil Burger (vegan)

Nope. I didn’t go back to eating meat. I created this recipe because I wanted a veggie burger that:

  1. I can afford (I’ve seen veggie burgers here being sold for €5. What.)
  2. Is tasty and not mushy
  3. Doesn’t involve 4 hours, a bucket of sweat and an improv workshop in profanity to make.

Believe me when I say that the recipe took me a few (!) attempts and there are still some things I want to try. But thanks to this burger, I don’t feel like I am missing out on something any more. I made sure to keep the recipe fairly neutral for two reasons: I actually like the taste of the original patty AND this way you can use this recipe as a base and add your own spices. You won’t fool anyone into thinking this is meat when they taste it, but the texture comes pretty close and the burger suspiciously looks a lot like a meat patty. And although it’s not meat, there are plenty of umami flavours in it so a meat-eater would probably even enjoy it. I put this burger on a bun with some cooked beetroot (trust me and the Australians on this), tomato, ketchup and mustard and it was great!

Ingredients (makes 4 small or 2 giant burgers):

  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped finely (not too small so you can still see the onion bits in the burger)
  • 2 medium sized cloves of garlic, grated finely
  • 1 cup of frozen mushrooms, defrosted and chopped finely (same note as for the onion)
  • A 400 gram can of brown lentils (about 1 cup if you boiled them yourself)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of marmite (you can sub this with vegemite but whatever you do, don’t omit!)
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of cashew butter (you could also use macadamia nut butter or walnut butter, don’t omit because it helps the burger to stick together and adds some fat)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup strong white (bread) flour (you need this for the texture, don’t try with cornstarch)
  • Black pepper and salt, to taste
  • A glug of rapeseed oil, to fry the burgers (you can use any neutral tasting vegetable oil)

Method:

  • Heat up the olive oil in a medium sized or large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  • Fry the onion until it just starts to brown. You do this to get more flavour out of it.
  • Lower the heat and add the garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic because it will make the burgers bitter!
  • Squeeze the water out of the mushrooms and also add this to the pan. Let the mushrooms cook until they brown slightly.
  • Rinse the lentils, squeeze the water out of them and add to the pan. Cook until pretty much all of the water cooks out and the lentils look mushy.
  • Add the marmite and stir it through.
  • Then add the balsamic vinegar and let the whole mixture cook until the vinegar thickens.
  • Let the mixture cool until you can handle it and knead the cashew butter, flour, pepper and salt into the mixture. Don’t be afraid to slightly overseason, in this case overseasoning is a good thing!
  • Shape the patties and put them in the fridge for half an hour before panfrying them. Don’t skip this step, it’s necessary for the burger to properly stick together.
  • Panfry (with or without salt) over low-medium heat and eat!

Storage and tip of the day:

These burgers taste even better the next day so you can definitely cook them and keep them in the fridge for a few days. You can keep these, uncooked, for 1-3 months in the freezer.

Don’t make veggie burgers too thick because it’s more difficult to cook them that way. That’s because it takes a while for the heat to reach the inside, so the outside burns before the inside is properly cooked.

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