I always think veggie burgers are a good way to get some healthy stuff into the kids. I often just throw together whatever leftover cooked vegetables and grains are in the fridge, mix with some spices, binders (like oats, breadcrumbs or cereal), seeds and beans, and fry. It can be hard to make the same things twice. This version I created this week, with lots of protein-rich lentils and quinoa, was exceptionally popular among the little people — I think Zach may have eaten eight small burgers at dinner. I’m definitely planning to make this one again.
You can skip some of the steps to make the process quicker, but toasting and sautéing first improves the overall finished flavor.
But once you get the feel for the necessary texture, you can mix and match ingredients and create your own favorite burger. It’s hard to go wrong.
This recipe is especially for Angela!
1/2 cup quinoa (or about 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cups cooked green or brown lentils
1 T tomato paste
1 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 small courgette, finely grated, with liquid squeezed out
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes or breadcrumbs
First, toast the quinoa in a dry cast iron pan until it begins to pop. Then pour into a pot and cook in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or salted water. It’s done when the liquid has been absorbed — about 20 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, toast the sunflower seeds and nuts in the dry cast iron pan until they are just slightly browned. Then remove and grind in a food processor until they are crumbs.
Now add some olive oil to the cast iron pan and sauté the shallot (or onion) and garlic. When soft, add them to the food processor. Add the fresh thyme and blend.
Add the cooked lentils to the food processor and pulse for just a few seconds more so the lentils are just partly blended.
Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a large bowl. Add the tomato paste, olive oil, soy sauce, cumin, grated courgette, oats and cornflakes (or breadcrumbs) to the bowl. Mix well.
(If you would like to add a beaten egg at this point to aid in binding, you can, but I found that they held together well even without the egg, helped by the oats.)
Form into patties (I like to use a small ice cream scoop with a lever) and drop onto the hot cast iron pan, in a little oil. Press down with a spatula turner and flip over when browned.
Serve warm. You can eat them like burgers, in bread, or I like them just plain, next to a baked potato. The kids like to pick them up and eat them with their fingers.
Freeze any leftovers.