Red Lentil, Bulgur Wheat and Toasted Walnut Veggie Burgers by Foodie’s Markets Chef Laura Brennan
May 11, 2018
Cooked red lentils are very similar in texture to cooked split green peas; that is, they don’t hold their shape and tend to become very soft. That’s why you most often see them in soup or Indian ‘dal’ recipes where a firm texture is not the end-goal.
They are surprisingly delicious as a vegetarian burger when mixed with a sturdier grain. The bulgur wheat expands during cooking and binds the lentils together by absorbing liquid. Chopped, toasted walnuts add texture as well. I have not added flour or egg as an additional binder; I spread my cooked mixture on a sheet pan and refrigerated until firm. (If, after a couple hours of chilling your mixture still seems wet and won’t hold a ‘patty-shape’ you may want to add a tablespoon or two of AP flour (all purpose).
I shaped them into 2 ½ -inch patties and coated them a ‘standard breading’ treatment, which in turn, provides structure and a crust. I pan-fried (sauté) them and served them warm with some savory accompaniments: caramelized onions, hummus, yogurt seasoned with Syrian Aleppo pepper flakes and drizzles of both pomegranate molasses and tahini sauce. Sliced cucumbers and thinly sliced dill pickles would add a bit of crunch and a touch of piquancy.
- Prep: 15 mins
- Cook: 15 mins
- Yields: 6-8 patties
¾ cup red lentils
¼ cup bulgur wheat
1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced, (to yield ½ cup)
¼ cup grated, peeled carrot
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon paprika (not smoked)
1 tablespoon honey
1 bay leaf
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
Fresh ground pepper
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose plus 1-2 tablespoons more if needed as a binder to form the patties
3-4 cups Panko-style bread crumbs (about 6-7 ounces)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil (for both breading and panfrying the patties)
Put the lentils and bulgur wheat together in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Drain. Set aside.
Finely dice the red onion. Peel and grate a small carrot. Measure ¼ cup. Peel and finely mince 2 cloves garlic.
Heat a medium saucepan and add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to heat. Don’t let the oil get too hot----don’t let it smoke. Add the onion and carrots and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook over medium-low heat until softened. Add the minced garlic. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems too dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the dried spices: the ginger, the turmeric, the curry powder and the paprika. Stir to combine the spices and cook them at very low heat for a few minutes or until they become fragrant. Add the honey. Add just enough water to cover the mixture by 1-inch. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let cook at low heat/ simmer until water has all been absorbed and lentils and wheat are tender when tasted. If necessary, add more water to finish cooking. If satisfied with the texture, first season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Turn out onto a sheet pan and let mixture cool. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight is best.
When mixture seems firm, put in into a large bowl. Chop the walnuts, either by hand or pulse in a food processor. Add the walnuts to the mix and combine. Grab a small amount of mix in your hands and see if it will stay together. If it does not sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the mix. Let it absorb for 10 minutes (refrigerated) and try ‘clumping’ together again. When satisfied, form into small patties and arrange individually on a clean sheet pan. (The number of patties will depend on the size you make. On average you should get 6 to 8 patties.)
Gather 3 shallow bowls or aluminum pie plates. Crack the eggs into one of the pie plates or bowls and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Whisk again to combine thoroughly.
Fill the second bowl/plate with panko-style breadcrumbs.
Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour to the third dish. Season with a pinch of salt and a bit of ground pepper.
“Standard Breading Procedure”:
a. Get a pastry brush, a small spatula and a clean sheet pan.
b. Take one patty at a time and dip first into the flour. Coat thoroughly and pat off the excess.
c. Next dip the patty into the egg-oil mixture, coating both top and bottom. Use the pastry brush to coat/brush the top and sides with the egg-mixture. Lift out with the spatula, let excess egg drain off a bit.
d. Lower the patty into the panko crumbs and press the crumbs firmly onto the surface, top and bottom, coating completely.
e. Remove to sheet pan and continue until all the patties are coated.
Have a 2nd clean sheet pan at the ready. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan by 1/8th - inch. Gently lower the patties into the hot oil. Cook and flip over until both sides are browned. Remove to clean sheet pan or until all the patties have been browned. If the centers are not warm, heat in the oven (at 350 degrees) for 6-8 minutes.
Serve with the garnishes mentioned in the headnote or make a true ‘burger’ with pita bread and lettuce.
a.) Gathering mise-en-place (ingredients)…………………………………….. 10 minutes
b.) Preparing ingredients, cooking the mix, forming the patties……..35 minutes
c.) Letting the mix chill before breading………………………………………….15 minutes
d.) Breading the patties ……………………………………………………………… 10 minutes
Cooking time: (pan frying/sautéing the patties) ……………………………………………15 minutes
( note: optional overnight chilling of the mixture is not included in this timetable)