There’s-No-Beef-In-These?! Burgers

Despite my ever-growing to do list, classes, teacher conferences, and shifts at the so-called superstore, somehow I found the time to cook supper this week. A few times!  It wasn’t just leftovers, nor was it a quick egg poaching. I’m talking a real recipe followed, ingredients bought, cooked & eaten by not only me, but also my husband [we actually got to eat a meal together this week!] and our friend Alyssa.

I had seen Sabrina’s mushroom lentil burgers on RhodeyGirl Tests awhile ago, but hadn’t really given them much thought in the summer as I have a meat-loving husband [fiancé at the time] and figured it would be much easier to save the “there’s no meat in these?!” discussion and just make regular burgers. Since we’ve been married, however, I’ve really done a fantastic job of weaning him off of eating meat at home, for the most part. His job provides him with meals while he’s working [he works at a group home where he is doing basic care for the six male residents, and part of that care is cooking their meals — and he is able to partake as well!], and so he gets his fill of meat there, and doesn’t care to have it [for the most part] when he’s eating at home.

When Alyssa came over to watch a movie with Joey on Thursday afternoon, they mentioned making burgers for supper, and since Heather had been tweeting the night before about how dang good the mushroom lentil burgers were, I’d had them in my head all over again and wanted to make them.

My mission was clear: make. these. burgers.

BUT. It wasn’t going to be as simple as that. obviously. Alyssa can’t eat wheat. Which obviously means trouble when you’re talking about burgers … and the inevitable bun. Also, Sabrina’s recipe called for bread crumbs as well as whole wheat flour, both of which are off-limits for the little gluten-free beauty.

I ran out to the grocery store and picked up gluten-free bread crumbs, and figured I could replace the flour with oats. To rectify the bun issue, we decided to try baby portobello mushrooms instead of bread! None of us had ever tried the ‘bello instead of bun thing [although Alyssa & I had tried the ‘bello instead of meat thing at my bachelorette tea party!], so it was quite the venture for us!

I halved the original recipe, because there were only three of us and I didn’t want mounds of leftovers just in case no one liked them! Of course, one smell of the lentils and mushrooms all spiced up and cooking way before anything looked like a burger, and I was sold! I also omitted the onion, made some substitutions to de-glutenize it, and didn’t at all measure the oats. Sorry, that’s just how I roll in the kitchen!

Mushroom Lentil Burgers

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 4 oz button mushrooms
  • ½ cup green lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • paprika, red pepper flakes, other spices of choice [to taste]
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
  • ⅛ cup [gluten-free] bread crumbs
  • ¼-½ cup quick oats
  • ⅛ cup walnuts [I kind of measured these, but then kept snacking on them!]
  • 2 tbs sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • sea salt to taste

 

Clean and chop mushrooms to a small size.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have reduced [or until they look just right; a little bit soft, and smell amazing!].

Add the lentils and water, bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.

 

This is where you want to spice the crap out of it. I’m known for putting a whack-load of spices in things, and everyone thinks I’m crazy — until they try it. Then they apologize for ever having doubted my spicing skills. Let simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. [it was at this point that I tweeted “looks like dog food, smells HEAVENLY!”]

Add the egg and bread crumbs, and combine using a potato masher. Mash the lentils until about half are completely mashed and half are still intact.

Slowly add the oats until the lentil mixture is not too wet. Add the walnuts and sundried tomatoes and stir to combine. [I used a fork when I got to this stage, because it was easier to handle than the potato masher!]

Using your hands, form a small portion of the mixture into a patty. Repeat until you have used all of the mixture. Heat an oiled skillet to medium [I used my George Foreman grill!]. Working in batches, add a few burgers and flip after 4 minutes. When other side has crisped up remove and repeat.

We served them on baby portobello mushrooms instead of buns, and topped them with olive oil mayo, tomato, and avocado.

 

This was a big deal for Alyssa: before eating this burger she had never tried lentils, walnuts, sundried tomatoes, avocado [the horror!!], portobello mushrooms as buns, or raw mushrooms at all. And she loved it all! Her only thought was that it was perhaps a bit too mushroomy with the big baby ‘bellos. She went back and took a little chunk off of a second patty so that the mushroom taste wouldn’t be quite so overwhelming as she got to the end of the burger.

 

Since Joey’s introduction to lentils a few months ago when I was making soup, he’s actually been very open to me using them in various ways, and these burgers were no different. Although, he didn’t quite realize what I was doing with the lentils until I was just about ready to make them into patties … I asked him if he thought the texture was right as I was adding in the oats, and he said that he thought it was fine. Then he turned to me and exclaimed “you mean, you’re not adding meat to that?!” He was shocked that the lentils weren’t a filler for real hamburger, but that they were in fact the whole burger! Poor beef-loving husband.

Once he tasted them, however, he [in his own way] retracted his doubtful statement, saying that they tasted almost like meat, and that the texture was even rather meaty, other than the fact that it fell apart a bit more than a traditional beef burger would have. I think I could have avoided this by adding two eggs instead of just one [the original recipe calls for three, but I figured I could get away with just one], but I thought they were fine, even if I did have to pick up a fallen chunk every now and again! Definitely worth it!

I ended up feeding a gluten-free girl and a boy who hates trying new things: I’d say these burgers were an all-around success!