Monday, January 18, 2010

Making Friends with Veggie Burgers

Red Lentil Chickpea Burgers with Peanut Sauce

We try to follow a relatively flexitarian diet in our house - meaning we don't eat meat with every - even most - meals. It's a choice we've made for financial, environmental, and ethical reasons...and having several vegetarians in our lives that often eat meals with us hasn't hurt, either. The biggest reason we often eat meatless meals, though, is simply because there are so many delicious vegetarian recipes that have become our favorites. The veggie burger - that quintessential veg-friendly offering at many bars and burger joints - has not generally been one of my favorite entrees. Although the concept is great, I rarely meet a veggie burger that I like: they are too often tasteless, dry, and crumbly. Determined to find something palatable, I've been experimenting with recipes at home...and after running the gamut of veggie burger options, I've finally found one that I'm excited about:

And here it is. The base of these burgers is a combination of red lentils (which are wonderful all on their own) and chickpeas, which add extra substance and bulk. Add a few spices, vegetables, and some bread crumbs to hold everything together, and you've got yourself one decent veggie burger. Notice I said decent. These burgers aren't bad on their own, but what really makes them something special is the tangy, slightly spicy peanut sauce that accompanies them. A basic Asian-inspired peanut sauce, it's whipped up in a blender and ready to go in less than a minute - and we wouldn't love these burgers so much without it.

While the sauce is quick to put together, the burgers themselves are a little tedious - particularly because they have to chill before they are cooked. Luckily, they keep (and freeze) well, so the easiest way to enjoy these is to make a big batch when you've got some time, form them into patties, and keep them in the freezer the same way you would those pre-packaged Boca burgers - just take out a couple at a time when you're ready to cook them. We usually eat ours over brown rice, but they're great wrapped in pitas, too. They're healthy, filling, and tasty, but the best part? I can finally call the veggie burger my friend - my work on this front is complete.

Want more veg-friendly fare? Try a Rice Omelette or Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese.


Anonymous said...

I am so excited to try these! I have tried making my own veggie burgers in the past and have not been successful - good advice on letting the patties chill.

Jay said...

Hooray veggie burgers! I enjoy mine bun-less, with cheese and Tabasco.

Elisabeth said...

Yes, most anything like this, if you're skillet-frying (fried rice, patties or cakes of any kind...), will crumble and/or be soggy if you don't chill first.

Cheese and Tabasco? Interesting. Sounds like that would be right up DR's alley, if we subbed sriracha for Tabasco.