Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lentil-Walnut Burgers



In this installment of Adventures in Housesitting...

I keep getting locked in the bathroom.  Seriously.  It's kind of embarrassing but there it is.  Every night after I wash my face and brush my teeth I have to call to Paul to help free me from the outside.  One of these days...



Living out of someone else's house can be really disorienting.  There always seems to be something I want or need that I don't have access too.  We're also watching the Olympics every night and staying up way later than normal so that might be adding to it.  Aren't the Russian pairs skaters amazing?!  I digress..

One thing I have really enjoyed, aside from the cat (which is super surprising), is the cookbooks.  Every installment of the Moosewood cookbooks is at my fingertips.  I found a recipe I thought sounded delicious and I went for it: Lentil-Walnut Burgers.

Unfortunately cooking the burgers proved to be like trying to get out of the bathroom - it's pretty clear how to do it, I've done it before quite successfully, but it just didn't want to happen.

The bathroom door may still elude me but I refused to be beaten by the burger.  The flavor of a pan-fried fresh veggie burger is phenomenal but my determination to follow the recipe to a T produced a crispy, delicious smelling, crumbly mess.

After a few attempts at frying the perfect vegan burger I had to admit defeat and add an egg.  It helped immensely and didn't alter the flavor of the burger at all.  Pan-frying is the slightly more delicious way to cook these bad boys but they're still delicate and likely to fall apart if you're not super careful / an iron chef.  Because this recipe yields so many burgers I had the opportunity to experiment with cooking methods.  Broiling was the superior method, producing a more cohesive, evenly cooked burger that won't break apart when flipped.  However, if you're a rebel and don't mind a few extra calories, try pan frying and see what you think.

These were just absolutely delicious.  Paul is not normally a fan of veggie burgers but ate several of these.  His review: "I don't know what's in this and I don't care.  It's bloody delicious."  (He's English, dontchaknow...)

Lentil-Walnut Burgers
from The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking)
Yield 6-8 half cup patties
Active time: 40 minutes / Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup dry lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • 4 to 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • about 10 large mushrooms, minced
  • 1/2 cup very finely minced walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb fresh spinach, finely minced
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or wheat germ
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • optional: 1 egg
    1. Place lentils and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is gone.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl, add vinegar, and mash well.
    2. While lentils are cooking, heat oil in a medium sized skillet.  Add onions and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients, except for bread crumbs, and saute 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.  Add the saute and crumbs to the lentils and mix well.  Add egg if desired and mix thoroughly.  Chill for about one hour, or until cool, before forming patties.
    3. Form 4-inch diameter burgers.  Fry in a small amount of hot oil on both sides until heated through and crispy on the outside, or broil for 5 to 8 minutes on each side.

I can't wait to make these again.  We topped our burgers with munster cheese and tried a variety of sauces.  Pretty much everything tasted good.  We even tried scooping up the crumbly disaster burger with some blue corn chips and it was SO GOOD.  These burgers are gold.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

We're snowed in today, like most of the East Coast, and I've had fun playing in the kitchen.  I have so many fun things to try and I can't wait to share them with you.  Stay warm out there!