Lentil Walnut Burgers

My mom used to make these for us growing up, and when she put together a family cookbook for my brother and I, I was delighted to find this recipe. I (of course) have changed it slightly to suit my tastes.

Ingredients:
– 1.5 cups dried brown lentils
– 1/4 pound fresh mushroom (button, crimini, shitake, or other type), finely diced
– 1 cup of walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
– 1 small carrot, peeled, finely diced
– 1 small onion, peeled, finely diced
– 1 stalk celery, finely diced
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/4 cup raw rolled oats (or more if needed)
– 5 tablespoons tomato paste
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
– 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon chili powder
– 1 teaspoon curry powder or garam masala
– 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Soak lentils overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, add a pinch of salt, and cook in a medium pot over medium-low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain excess water and set lentils aside in a large mixing bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, carrot, onion, celery, and garlic until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add in spices, including chili powder, curry powder or garam masala, black pepper and dry mustard. Mix through veggies. Add tomato paste and mix to combine.

Scrape veggie mixture into bowl with lentils. Stir to combine, mashing slightly. Add walnuts, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and eggs. Stir to combine. Add oatmeal and stir again, adding more oatmeal by tablespoonful if the mixture is too wet.

Form mixture into patties, using about 1/2 cup of mixture per patty. Place on a platter, cover and chill for 1 hour or more.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry lentil burgers until brown and crisp and heated through, about 8 minutes on each side. Melt slices of cheddar cheese over each patty if desired. Serve lentil burgers on buns or in pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, or plain over some salad greens.

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