One of the posts I continue to get comments and questions about is my veggie burger recipe (Lentil Walnut Burgers). Several of the commenters have noticed that their veggie burgers are too crumbly and dry, and are falling apart. I’ve supplied a few suggestions, but decided to try these again to see if they worked well for me again or if I would have the same problem.
I made them tonight, following the recipe almost exactly. The only change I made was to modify the ratio of mushrooms and walnuts. I added 1.5 cups of diced mushrooms and 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts. I also used frozen pretzel bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs (leftover from the great pretzel fiasco of ’09.)
My burgers turned out great! No crumbling whatsoever! My patty stayed completely in tact. It was moist but dry enough on the outside that it didn’t fall apart.
If your burgers are too dry, I suggest the following:
- Make sure your lentils are really well cooked. Cook them longer than the recommended 15 minutes if necessary and only use 2 cups of water for the 1 cup of lentils. When done, they should be sticky and almost have a paste-like consistency. Some readers have wondered if there is too much water from the lentils, but there really shouldn’t be much water in the pot when you’re done. .
- Ensure that your mushrooms and walnuts are chopped finely. If you buy pre-chopped walnuts, make sure they are small and crumbly.
- When you cook the mushrooms, err on the side of them being over-cooked, making sure the liquid has evaporated. They’ll be moist but no liquid should be in the pan.
- Make sure all ingredients are well blended together and that you have massaged each portion into a nicely formed, firm patty.
- If you don’t have a barbeque (like myself) then just fry them on a pan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil.
- Only flip your burgers once. If you want to check on them to make sure they’re not burning, do so very carefully as so not to break or crumble the patty. Carefully use your hands and a wooden spatula if you can. If you let it get a good sear on each side, it will hold together better.
- Don’t squish the patty when you put it in the bun like you might do a burger. They are naturally soft and you don’t need to push it firmly into the bun.
It’s all in the toppings
If you find the burgers too dry, add lots of extra juicy toppings. On mine tonight I had sauteed mushrooms, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and a homemade sauce made of mayonnaise, hot mustard and chopped scallions. Delicious.
I really enjoyed this meal tonight. My advice for those who found this recipe not to work is simply to try it again! It’s worth it!
For convenience, here’s the recipe below. Check out my original post to see other details and comments. This recipe was adapted from the LCBO magazine. Enjoy!
Lentil Walnut Burgers
1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin (freshly ground is best)
1/2 tsp each s&p
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1.5 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 . In a small saucepan, bring lentils and water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, s&p; cook 1 minute. Stir in walnuts and mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are completely tender and no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Stir in cilantro, bread crumbs and lentils to combine. Form into patties.
3. Grill over medium heat on greased grill, turning once until crisp and golden on each side, about 12 minutes.
4. Serve on grilled whole grain buns with desired toppings.
Makes 4 large burgers (or 6 small ones).